To find the trailhead take Hwy 199 north from Crescent City about 28 miles or Hwy 199 south from Grants Pass about 53 miles. Drive carefully because Hwy 199 is narrow and crooked in spots with large trucks and RV’s slowing progress and hogging the road. Turn east on Little Jones Creek Road. Little Jones Creek Road is paved but it is narrow and only one lane wide in many areas. Stay on Little Jones Creek Road for about 10 miles where a gravel road designated 16N02 forks to the left. Stay left and follow the signs to Doe Flat. The road ends before you get to Doe Flat at a large parking area at about 4,400 ft elevation. There is a modern outhouse, a few campsites, and a few picnic tables next to the parking area.
As of October 2006 there is a new forest service trail that takes a more direct approach to Devils Punchbowl. Refer to Bob Burd's Route Description of the Northeast Ridge Route and the attached topo from his trip.
The old trail follows an old roadbed east from the parking area. The trail is easy to follow and continues to follow this roadbed through a couple of washouts that cross the road. After about 1.5 miles and descending about 400ft you come to a signed fork that leads to Buck Lake. Buck Lake is a nice destination for a picnic and some fishing, but if you want to climb mountains, continue straight ahead to the east.
The trail eventually becomes a real trail as it parallels Doe Creek. At about 3.7 miles the trail again forks. This is at elevation 3,278 ft according to the topo’s. Pay attention here, because you want to go to the right, head south, cross Doe Creek and start heading up to Devils Punchbowl. The trail climbs steeply up from the creek. There are dozens of switchbacks that seem to go on forever. After climbing about 1,100 ft in about a mile you reach a ridgeline the scenery changes from forest to a glaciated open granite basin.
Follow the cairns up this little glaciated valley, cross the outlet stream and continue on the east side of the stream towards Devils Punchbowl. Pass the small lake that sits down stream from Devils Punchbowl and continue to the end of the trail at Devils Punchbowl. The elevation at the lake is about 4,747 ft. and it is about 5.5 miles back to the trailhead from here. The easy part is done. Relax take some noutrition, hydrate, and make sure you have enough water to get to the summit and back to the lake. It will take about 3 hours of hard work.
From the end of the trail look across the lake and you can see Bear Mountain looming over the lake directly south. It is only a mile or so to the summit but it is all cross country with about 1,650ft of climbing. It is important to pick the correct route up to the ridge above the lake. Take the right chute that has vegetation. Refer to the pictures for a good look at the route. The left chute ends at a cliff that you don’t want to climb.
First, you have to make your way around the lake to the south side. Go to your left and proceed in a clockwise direction around the east and south side of the lake. Stay on the rocks as much as possible because the brush is dense and difficult to break through. It seems to be easiest if you stay down close to the water for most of this rock hopping journey.
Next, you have to climb the correct chute. If there is still snow in the chute you are going to have difficulties and may not be able to be successful without ice axe and crampons. There is no developed path, but you may find an occasional “use path” that ascends part way. Use your own judgment and climb using whatever natural vegetable belays that present themselves. The footing is mixed with some scree, some talus, some larger rocks, some scrambling. It will take at least and hour to climb this chute, so take your time and be safe. Be careful not to knock rocks down on your hiking partner.
Once on the ridge, turn left and follow it up the last 450 ft to the summit. Pick your way through brush and trees as best you can. The summit is worth the view.
Return the same way you came. Take care descending the chute because you don’t want your butt getting to the lake before the rest of your body. Save some energy for the hike out because there is about a 1,200 ft climb from Doe Creek back to the trailhead. Total hike is about 13 miles with a total elevation gain of 4,500ft. Plan on an all day hike of 8-10 hours.
The 10 essentials. Lots of water in the summer. Maybe ice axe and crampons early in the season. Rock Helmet if your partner is ahead of you going up the chute.
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