The Burkhart Trail from Devil’s Punchbowl has been on my bucket list ever since the first time we hiked to Devil’s Chair and the Punchbowl loop. I wanted to get this one out of my system before the weather got too hot knowing that much of the trail is exposed. This hike is kind of like two for the price of one. It has a lot of diversity along the way taking you from the desert floor to the alpine zone. The first part of this hike drops you down to Cruthers Creek which is lower then the elevation from which you started at the trailhead. This section is a beautiful trek unto itself, but you have to remember to save some fuel in the tank since you’ll have to hike back up out of the canyon later on. Next, you cross over Cruthers Creek and from here on out it’s a long, steep haul toward Burkhart Saddle. Personally, I didn’t find the climb all that difficult. BUT… what I didn’t expect were the lengthy sections of trail with loose rock on sometimes very narrow and mostly exposed slopes. This trail has all kinds of terrain to hold your attention from beginning to end. We encountered soft sand, loose scree, talus, and pine needle covered track. I really enjoyed hiking through the different plant communities in this unique transition zone. As we continued onward and upward, there was a nice, cool breeze coming up out of the canyon to keep us comfortable. The higher we went, the more the temperature cooled and trail seemed to become more and more rocky with very few breaks in between. At about 6 miles in, just one mile short of the saddle, we hit our turn around time. We looked over at the saddle which seemed so close, yet so far! Then we looked at the trail ahead of us... More rock! Ugh. We contemplated making the final push anyway, but we both agreed it would be even more slow going on the way down and decided we should start heading back. We also still had to make the climb up out of the canyon. Carefully we negotiated our way down the slope. My trekking poles came in handy here. When we arrived back at the creek, I got distracted by all the little Lotus Hairstreak butterflies. I spent some time chasing them around trying to get a good photo. (Or maybe I was just procrastinating the climb back up.) As I tried to focus my camera on the tiny green butterfly who was posing so patiently on a leaf, a hummingbird mistook my bright fuchsia tee shirt for a flower. He swooped so close I could feel the flutter of his tiny wings. He swiftly flew away when I looked over my shoulder at him and he realized he was mistaken. As we began the final climb up out of the canyon a hazy cloud cover kept the sun at bay, and I enjoyed snapping photos of the ever changing scenery on the trek back to the trailhead. Overall, I really enjoyed this hike and would do it again. Perhaps next time we’ll start a little earlier now that we know what to expect with the rugged terrain.