Well, I hope I can keep up this idea of 52 hikes in a year. I may have to change the criteria and on a few occasions venture to the same place for a hike. We will see how things go. My intention for these weekly posts is to continue to get outside with my family and share new hikes together. I always feel this pull telling me, I don’t need to make such an effort to get outside and on the trail. But, once we are in the car and on our way…I am always happy we did.
I am including this first hike as a new hike even though my family has been here before. It was the first time all four of us hiked the trail together on our own two feet. Usually at the end of the hike, my husband looks like an acrobatic act carrying both boys up the trail to the car. One on his shoulders, one in his arms and a backpack on his back. This sight invites comments from every person we meet on the trail. The truth is, our boys love these rides from their Dad. He is such a good sport about it and honestly, we wouldn’t be able to go the places we do without his ability to carry such a load once in a while. Both my husband and I think it is thrilling to see our boys walking back up to the car rather easily. Our minds instantly start calculating just how far we think they could go if given snacks and bribes along the way. A first backpacking trip is not too far off for our family, I can hardly contain my excitement.
Devils Punchbowl is a beautiful spot on the north side of the San Gabriel Mountains. The views of this incredible geologic setting are hidden by the trees until you walk beyond the small visitor center and out to the start of the trail. These tilted to almost vertical rock layers and the backdrop of the snowy mountains (this time of year) add an extra element of beauty to these surroundings. There is a small stream that flows through the base of the canyon perfect for a picnic or rock throwing contest. There is a small visitors center and you need an adventure pass displayed in your car to park in their parking lot.
We walked the Punchbowl Loop Trail. It is about 1.5 miles round trip, with a steep downgrade to the stream with switchbacks and a few steps to help you down. Our boys have been here before, they understand when we say stay to the inside of the trail (most of the time). If you have young kids, take great care to hold hands, walk slow, explain the danger of getting to close to the edge. There are steep drop-offs on this trail, pay attention.
I am always amazed at the difference in my boys when we are out in a natural landscape like this. I think they are incredible, lively and ready to learn at the drop of a hat at home. But, when we are outside…nothing is forced. Our voices are quieter (or at least they sound quieter with more room for them to travel), the questions just flow, the conversation is constant and there is a bounce in their step that is undeniably happy.
After some time exploring and a snack it was time to walk back up the trail. My husband is always thinking ahead, I am so thankful for him. He brought our boys light sabers (their most prized possessions now) in his backpack thinking they might distract the boys just enough to make the walk up to the car enjoyable. He was right. Our boys fought “sand people” around ever switch back, protected us from “bad people” and ran to find the next adventure around every corner. They never asked for help, a ride up the trail, they were happy and engaged in the walk.
This was a brilliant day full of adventures and new possibilities. I can’t wait to hike with them again. We have taken advantage of the unseasonable cold weather lately and have gone sledding multiple times this month. That is an adventure in itself.
Any favorite hikes in the Southern California area that are around 1-3 miles? I would love to hear from you, I have a few on my list but I am always looking for new favorite places.