Idyllwild: My Weekend Away

20 Nov

Idyllwild is the unloved stepchild of Southern California. Everyone adores our iconic beaches, but no one comes to Southern California for the mountains, which is where you’ll find Idyllwild. Even locals prefer Big Bear, with its decent ski slopes.

As for me, I’d visited Idyllwild a few times, usually for a retreat, but it wasn’t until my trip a few weeks ago that I fully succumbed to its charms. Maybe it had something to do with the time of year. Unlike San Diego, Idyllwild has fully settled into fall.

Perched at 5300 feet and surrounded by the San Jacinto Wilderness, the town feels a world away from the pulse of modern life. In fact, it’s not far from Los Angeles or San Diego. Just a two hour drive from either metropolis, Idyllwild’s rustic cabins and dense forest welcome city-dwellers seeking rest and simplicity, even if only for the weekend.

Rest, however, was not what we were after when we drove up two weeks ago. Originally, there were talks of Cory going on a last minute hunting trip to North Dakota, but when that fell through, Idyllwild seemed like the next best option for a weekend adventure. Once in town, we grabbed a copy of the Idyllwild Visitor’s Guide (available at various stores, including Mountain Harvest Market) and perused its list of day hikes. In the end, we picked Deer Springs Trail, a moderate 3.3 mile hike to the top Suicide Rock. The 1700 foot climb ends with expansive views of the Coachella Valley and Idyllwild’s other notable outcrop, Tahquitz Rock.

The hike itself is almost as stunning as the views. We wound our way through a dense forest of manzanita, pine, and black oak. Halfway through, a small creek cut through the path. The crystalline water looked pure enough to drink as it gurgled down the mountainside and disappeared into a thicket of grass green vegetation. We didn’t try it, of course. But when we passed by a toppled granite slab with smooth pits ground into its face, it struck us that the forest around Idyllwild, with its abundant acorns and water, must have nourished many generations of Native Americans.

In contrast to those ancient people, we escaped to a heated cabin after our three hour excursion. With wine and buffalo burgers in hand, we watched Toy Story 3 in front of a crackling fire. Our muscles ached just a bit when we left the next morning, but our souls felt refreshed. For a weekend getaway, Idyllwild in autumn offered the perfect balance of activity and leisure.

Photo Credit: billaday and don.lee

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2 Responses to “Idyllwild: My Weekend Away”

  1. kathy stevens November 20, 2010 at 1:00 pm #

    I agree about Idyllwild. The women at our church usually go there for our annual retreat. It is a great getaway, fairly close, and very relaxing…

    • Chris November 20, 2010 at 2:07 pm #

      Yeah, I think we used to go there for band leader camp.

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