Making it to Hell has always been a goal of mine, so imagine the thrill felt to finally discover Pasadena's Devil's Gate (aka the "portal to hell") which promised me a personal meeting with the big red man.
Nestled amongst the aptly titled Devil's Gate Dam-- a sprawling concrete behemoth that lies below the 210 Freeway-- the journey to Satan himself is a path as sketchy as they come.
You'll traverse creeks, broken paths, bogged down bushes, slippery rocks, muddy slopes and terrible gps directions (thanks, internet!) in an attempt to soak in the evil vibes and become united with beelzebub...or you could just trespass down the steps below and be there in 5 minutes.
Either way, the journey begins at Hahamongna Park, a lovely piece of greenery that resides on the border of the LA mountain town La Canada Flintridge. As stated above, it's a pretty unique public space due to the terrain being blended in with an enormous concrete dam and the always busy highway, making for a very weird hybrid of nature and urban decay.
And look at the size of that dam! Maybe I haven't experienced enough of these in my lifetime, but there's something strange and hypnotic about looking into the vast/empty vessel of an abandoned dam. Random staircases abound at every turn, and the vibrant cream-colored cement radiates with the sun. Gazing upon it, one could only imagine the better days of Devil's Gate Dam, a simpler time where the water flowed like wine. Now it lies dormant as a shell of its former self: dry, desolate, and looking slightly awkward amongst the trees.
But enough about that; let's get down to business. You came here to visit Satan's lair, so we'll start the directions from square one: park the car and start walking in the direction toward the freeway. You'll come across this snazzy bridge, which actually has some pretty killer views of the surrounding Valleys.
Walk past the bridge and you'll find a tunnel on the right (there's also one before the bridge, don't go to there) that takes you underneath the highway.
Just keep following the path downhill until you come across some creepy wooden things (you'll know what I'm talking about). Then turn right, which will lead you toward a creek in the woods. From here, you'll scale an unkempt "path" with the goal of making it toward any area under the bridge. Just keep making your way forward, even if it takes switching paths or knocking bushes down.
And now you've finally made it: The so-called portal to Hell!
Graffiti welcomes you as you inch closer to your eternal doom, but where's the man with the horns and pitchfork?
Ah ha! The large rock you see above, which is where the tunnel gets its evil moniker from, is said to resemble Satan's profile. Looks like he was too busy to say hi himself, leaving you with a rocky doppelgänger instead. However, does the satanic resemblance hold up as proof that this is an entrance to the netherworld?
Not sure about that...but admire it and prepare yourself to enter the gateway that lies below. This is where the real fun starts
Just look at this decrepit tunnel...I mean, portal...to the underground. It's like something straight out of a cracked out Death Wish 3 era NYC, and it goes back about 100 feet. So if you're feeling randy and up for it, dive right in; it doesn't disappoint those who have the courage to march on.
Pure darkness awaits, assuming you went at dusk like I did, and walls of graffiti that would make the Candyman proud welcome you to "hell", which, in reality, is really just a concrete dead end. In reality, this is pretty scary and unsettling stuff, which is a feeling that increases as you walk deeper and deeper into the abyss.
Just let the flashlight guide your every step and pray the fence doesn't close up on you.
And once you've finally made it to the end of the line and realize that hell is just a concrete wall, you can scurry back to the mortal world. It's time to now live life in peace, knowing damn well that your satanic phase is finally behind you.
In all, Devil's Gate Dam might not actually be hell itself, but it's still pretty satisfying to find the thing (which is a hellish journey in itself) and explore.
HOW THE HELL DID THIS HAPPEN?
The dam was built in the 1920s and named Devil's Gate because of the rock formation's resemblance to Satan. In the 40s the area became a ritual magnet, bringing in a group of occultists (spearheaded by L. Ron Hubbard and some early disciples of Aleister Crowley) who attempted to evoke an antichrist from within. Following decades brought reports of missing children in the area and bouts of manic laughter coming from the tunnel.
Nowadays, Devil's Gate Dam is a hotbed for adventurous hikers, paranormal activity investigators and has been featured on numerous TV shows about the world's most haunted places.