Since ancient times, inhabitants of the area around the Devil’s Gate Gorge in the Arroyo Seco have believed it to be a whirlwind of spirit activity and sinister undertakings.
The original Tongva inhabitants of the Arroyo held that the laughing sound the rapids made while passing through the gorge was the sound of the coyote spirit laughing, and 20th century occultists like Jack Parsons and Aleister Crowley were reportedly convinced that the gorge was one of the seven portals of Hell. The gorge’s namesake rock face–which resembles a devilish profile–has surely helped stoke the interest of modern ghost hunters, and web searches turn up pages of results dedicated to exploring the mysteries of Devil’s Gate.
When not busy collaborating with L. Ron Hubbard on an unsuccessful attempt to create a “moonchild”, JPL co-founder Jack Parsons worked on rocket fuel at the nearby Jet Propulsion Laboratory. The proximity of JPL to Devil’s Gate has led some imaginative enthusiasts to draw a conspiratorial connection between JPL, the Devil’s Gate hellmouth, the Masons, and Parsons’ Pasadena mansion that also served as a Thelemic temple and hedonistic playground for Hollywood’s high occult society. What that connection might be is shrouded in myth, tall tales, and active imaginations.
What is clear is that the Gate was dammed in 1920 as part of the Arroyo Seco flood control scheme designed to tame destructive rain-driven flooding as far south as downtown Los Angeles, whose river the Arroyo feeds. Though a dam now reaches across the gorge, the water still laughs as it flows through the sluice gates, and the Devil’s face ominously remains intact.
Know Before You Go
Easiest access is through hiking on ground level if there has not been any rain or debris clogging entrance to tunnel.