Our trail system: A priceless legacy

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A group of hikers stop to admire the view along Wellman Trail in 1961. Photo: Ernie Maxwell Courtesy: Idyllwild Area Historical Society

A pack train makes its way up a trail; circa 1920. Courtesy: Idyllwild Area Historical Society

The San Jacinto Mountains are a hiker’s paradise, with more than 200 miles of trail to explore. We owe a debt to many for pioneering and developing such a superb resource, among them Cahuilla Indians, ranchers, 19th-century campers and innkeepers, individual explorers and entrepreneurs, the U.S. Forest Service, the California State Park Service and the Depression-era Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC).

The primary gateway to the high country above Idyllwild is the Devil’s Slide Trail from Humber Park to Saddle Junction. As you hike it, try to imagine the earliest traffic up this mountainside — herds of cattle. The idea of cows scrambling straight up the steep headwall of Strawberry Valley may seem preposterous, but between about 1870 and 1900 the migration to summer pastures from the dry flatlands below was an annual ritual.

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