Devil's Canyon Trail #237

Important Note

Most maps show the trailhead starting further to the west than its actual location. An old trail/roadbed is present in this location and it's possible the trail did once begin there. The route shown on those maps has its northern terminus within private land, which would be a reasonable motivation for changing the position of the trail. The modern trailhead exists just inside a small corner of the National Forest boundary.

The trailhead sign at the western terminus of the North Bruno Trail identifies that point as still being part of the Devil's Canyon Trail, which appears to be incorrect based on other information. For now, this guide will treat the Devil's Canyon Trail as only going as far as just past North Bruno Creek and hitting the North Bruno Trail there.

Length: 3.29 mi

Difficulty: moderate

Condition: moderate

Elevation range: 5515 ft – 6250 ft

Elevation gain/loss: 805 ft ↑ / 540 ft ↓

Average slope: 1.5%


The Devil's Canyon Trail is accessible from two locations.

The northern terminus is located at a small turnoff on the south side of Rucker Canyon Road (FR 74). (31.75343, -109.38138) A sign stating "Trail" is visible from the road here. A sign identifying the trail as being the Devil's Canyon Trail is not visible until walking 200 feet up the trail. (31.75306, -109.38099)

The southern terminus is at a creek crossing, where it connects with the North Bruno Trail. (31.71191, -109.38402) As the eastern portion of the North Bruno Trail is difficult to see, it may not be obvious that the Devil's Canyon Trail has ended here and the North Bruno Trail begun.

Trail Description

Rucker Canyon Road to Bruno Saddle

The trail begins along a small creek in a minor riparian area and remains at this level, crossing the frequently dry creek several times, for the first 0.46 mile, after which it climbs to a ridge above Devil's Canyon Tank for 500 feet and makes a sharp turn to the left. A faint dead-end trail may be observed 40 feet before the real bend, and another path departs along the ridgetop, heading north-northwest—this path's route matches where most maps now incorrectly show the Devil's Canyon Trail, suggesting it may be the original route before it was moved to the present location. (31.74664, -109.37949)

From the bend, the trail begins a constant, but reasonably gradual, climb up the western slope of Devil's Canyon to Bruno Saddle. After 700 feet, an old metal signpost can be observed, the sign missing. (31.74480, -109.37875) A faint trail is visible for about 150 feet, to a small viewpoint. If it once went any further beyond, it is no longer obvious where to.

For the next 0.74 mile to Bruno Saddle, the trail provides views of completely unburned terrain, with the rock outcrops that reportedly gave Devil's Canyon its name visible on both sides of the canyon (recent visitors have been unable to find anything devilish about them, however). Catclaw is often present growing across the trail in numerous places through this stretch, so long pants are a good idea on this hike. Just before Bruno Saddle, Devil's Canyon angles off away from the trail to the east, towards Rucker Peak. Bruno Saddle is marked by a sign (31.73524, -109.37750) and a fence with both a pedestrian and horse gate just beyond.

Bruno Saddle to North Bruno Trail

30 feet beyond Bruno Saddle the trail passes through the pedestrian gate in the fence. (31.73516, -109.37748) The Rucker Peak Trail is reported to begin from this location, heading east, but little evidence of it has been found at this time beyond a few stretches of aligned rocks and cairns in several places. From the gate, the trail immediately begins to descend into Bruno Canyon, with beautiful rock cliffs visible to the west. After 0.36 mile, the trail enters a meadow and begins to gradually angle to the right. The next 800 feet continue along a roughly southwestern course before turning back towards the south. At the bend, a large expanse of exposed white granite becomes visible. This rock stretches south from here for roughly two thirds of a mile. A good place to walk out onto it comes 550 feet past the bend. (31.72763, -109.38104)

From this point to the southern terminus, the trail can occasionally be difficult to find. Numerous parallel paths sometimes branch off the main trail and it's not always obvious which should be taken. The best path is sometimes marked with a cairn, but these can be obscured in times of heavy grass growth. Often, the paths eventually join back together. If you keep heading roughly south and stay west of the creek bottom you will often pick up the path again a bit further down-canyon.

0.88 mile from the start of the white rocks, the trail enters a grassier zone where the true path can be much more difficult to discern. After two tenths of a mile, the trail then begins to angle to the right, skirting the edge of the woods, and then after 240 feet enters the woods and begins gradually angling back to the left. After 190 feet, the trail crosses North Bruno Creek, (31.71224, -109.38374) and 150 feet later reaches its southern terminus at a second creek crossing. (31.71191, -109.38402) The North Bruno Trail heads east from here to North Bruno Tank and beyond to its trailhead on Forest Road 4818, as well as across the creek to its western terminus and junction with the South Bruno Trail. There are no signs at this junction, but there are aligned rocks and several cairns indicating its general location. The eastern segment is more difficult to spot initially but if you stay right along the north edge of the creek and walk for approximately 100 feet, you should pick it up.

Last updated February 1, 2014.