Ever Been to Hell and Back? Tips for Hiking San Diego's Devil's Punch Bowl

Ever been to hell and back? Grab a gallon of water, and your sturdiest spandex shorts, and head out to Cedar Creek's Trail in Ramona [CA] to see if you have what it takes to make it the Devil's Punch Bowl. Don't let Cedar Creek's quaint name and “Mc-Mansion” zip code fool you. These four and a half grueling miles through Ramona's unforgiving rocky terrain, will make Dante's journey through the Inferno look like a stroll down the Avenue des Champs-Élysées. The well marked trail winds you around the steep dusty hills of East County San Diego, and spirals down into the lush green valley below, where a 75 foot trickling waterfall, and heavenly hidden pool, called the Devil's Punch Bowl, await.  The first half of the trail is downhill, so save your strength for the uphill battle back to the Ranger Station.

It is best to visit after a recent rainfall so you are guaranteed to catch a waterfall. 

It is best to visit after a recent rainfall so you are guaranteed to catch a waterfall. 

This hike is notoriously dangerous if attempted by unprepared and novel hikers. The trail to the valley is shadeless, and the desert hills can reach temperatures of 115 degrees Fahrenheit, so leave the pets and less active members of the family at home.

The appeal: the photo opportunities and the overwhelming sense of accomplishment. Instragram a picture with the epic WARNING SIGN on the mountain's edge at the entrance gate, and post the Garden of Eden-esk waterfall picture at the end. Both your rugged granola crunching camping buddies, and artsy hipster comrades will be jealous of the views and the achievement. Bonus, you'll have buns of steal from the kick butt hike. If you really want to push your adventure to the limit, join the fellow hiker's you'll inevitably run into on the trail, for some cliff jumping into the shallow pool. Swimmers beware; in late spring and early summer baby rattle snakes have been know to join in the frolicking, but you can't have Eden without a few serpents. They don't call it the Devil's Punch Bowl for nothing.

A permit is required for hiking this trail, and it is a heft fine if you are caught without one. Visitors can obtain $6 permit at recreation.gov. Only 75 permits are awarded per day, and the permit is good for 5 participants. Happy Trails!

Writer/ Creative Content Specialist
Virago Fitness

Jillian started her career in creative content as a Writer and Editor for Sister Speak Magazine while getting her BA in English from James Madison University, but it was her commitment to community service and veteran's affairs that lead her home to Virago.