About four years ago, I wrote a column about a hiker asking me if there were any “sights to see” up ahead on the trail. I was just coming down from Saddle Junction (he was heading up). This inquiry surprised me and I answered, “Just more of the same; trails, mountain peaks, trees and rocks.”
It was almost like he expected something like Disneyland at the top to make his hike worthwhile.
In reality, if you love to be outdoors and like beautiful scenery, Idyllwild offers so many “sights” that it is hard to recommend just one. What can be an incredible view one day may seem to be ordinary the next depending on the weather, clouds, time of day and a myriad of other factors. However, a few places always seem to stand out and I go back to them over and over.
Some of them are obvious, such as Tahquitz and San Jacinto peaks, but others are a little out of the way, such as Red Tahquitz Peak.
Reaching a mountain summit is always fulfilling and most everyone will savor the moment and take time to enjoy and absorb the views. San Jacinto Peak offers an unobstructed 360 degree view and Tahquitz Peak is a close second for dynamic views. But you do not have to go all the way to the top of a mountain to see great scenery.
My three favorite spots, to which you can drive, are Humber Park, Lake Fulmor and Lake Hemet. Humber Park can be crowded on weekends but it still is a great spot for views of Tahquitz and Suicide Rocks and has a beautiful creek within easy walking distance.
Lake Hemet and Lake Fulmor are my two favorite places for photography since they both offer beautiful scenery year round.
If you want to hike, the Devil’s Slide Trail has great views particularly after you get past the first mile and a half. The trip down is very scenic with great views of Marion Mountain, Strawberry Valley, Tahquitz Rock and peak and looking down at the top of Suicide Rock with Diamond Valley Lake off in the distance.
Deer Springs Trail offers great views particularly if you hike up to the top of Suicide Rock. Even if you don’t feel like going the 3.2 miles to the top of Suicide you can get some great views about half mile up the Deer Springs Trail. Just look for the obvious side trail to the right at the top of a long switchback (the trail jogs left).
If you are adventurous, there are so many spots in the high country that surrounds Idyllwild that it would take a book to mention them all. A few of my favorites include Round Valley and Little Round Valley in the San Jacinto State Wilderness and Tahquitz Valley and Skunk Cabbage Meadows in the San Bernardino National Forest.
I have a soft spot in my heart for Red Tahquitz Peak as the views are spectacular and hardly anyone ever goes up there. The side trail to the summit goes right off the Pacific Crest Trail just south of Tahquitz Valley. Although off the beaten path, it is well worth the effort to hike to the summit.