Idyllwild Adventures - Hike Suicide Rock - Bike Inspiration Point

06.16.11


Go Idyllwild

With a name like Idyllwild, vast wilderness and idyllic outdoor settings are to be expected. And this mile-high town in the San Jacinto Mountains delivers. From sweeping summits and forested hikes to pleasant pedals and tranquil lakes, make Idyllwild your base camp for a weekend of wanderlust.


Suicide Rock Idyllwild

Rock New Heights

To get the lay of the land (i.e., gorgeous views of Idyllwild’s bountiful surroundings), take a 6.6-mile round-trip hike through a smorgasbord of scenery that tops out at a classic peak. The steady ascent to 7,500-foot Suicide Rock (named for a local legend of two Cahuilla Indian lovers who threw themselves off the rock rather than be separated by the tribal chief’s orders) burns the thighs but rewards the senses. Manzanita trees with smooth, chocolate-colored bark and patches of bright wildflowers like lupine decorate the high-desert terrain at the start of the hike. Black oaks pepper the path, and towering pines mark the arrival of a more alpine landscape as you near the pinecone-strewn summit. When the trail ends, walk 100 feet to your right, circling around giant boulders to a secluded lookout spot with spectacular vistas. South across Garner Valley, you’ll see the rolling hills of the Pacific Crest Trail and glittering Lake Hemet. To the southeast, Lily Rock and Tahquitz Peak feel a stone’s throw away across Strawberry Valley. Lie back on one of the white granite rocks and enjoy.

Suicide Rock via the Deer Springs Trail is 6.6 miles (round-trip). The Deer Springs trailhead is located across from the Idyllwild Nature Center, less than 1 mile north of town center on Hwy. 243. Park across from the nature center on a large dirt pull-out. A few paths begin at the pull-out, but all lead to the Dear Springs Trail. Follow the well-marked route 2.3 miles to the signed Suicide Junction. Continue straight as directed for 1 more mile to the summit. Free wilderness permits are required for this hike and can be obtained at the Mount San Jacinto State Park Ranger Station, 0.5-mile south from the trailhead on Hwy. 243. No dogs.

Bike Idyllwild Inspiration Point

High Roller

One of the best ways to explore Idyllwild is on a cruisy “Electra” bike from Hub Cyclery (note: “Electra” does not mean electric). Owners Mary and Brendan will set you up and give you the beta on some sweet rides. A 3-mile (round-trip) loop around town showcases Idyllwild’s galleries, funky shops, and eateries. Make pit stops to check out the art and grab an ice cream at the old-school Candy Cupboard, where you can make your own sweet masterpiece. Finish the ride passing views of towering Lily Rock. Or put your pedal to the metal on the 6-mile (round-trip) ride to Inspiration Point. The hilly ascent passes through peaceful manzanita-lined residential streets, up to the point, for a ridges-and-peaks view that’ll inspire a pop-a-wheelie. Lion Peak, Little Thomas and Thomas Mountain, Rouse Hill, and Cahuilla Mountain are all part of the ensemble. On clear days, you can see all the way to the Pacific. 

BONUS:
Take a breather at local hangout and live music venue Cafe Aroma (54750 N. Circle Dr.), an eclectic bistro/rotating art gallery. Pair the Shrimp Jalapeno Pesto Fettucine with a Chimay Blue brew. Adventurous!

The Hub Cyclery, 54425 N. Circle Dr., Ste. 9. Bike rentals: $45/full day or $25/half day. Bring a helmet or buy one for $20. Directions for town loop: Take a left out of Oakwood Village on N. Circle Dr. Turn left on Hwy. 243, then left on S. Circle Dr., which connects back to N. Circle Dr. Take a left on N. Circle Dr. and follow to the starting place at Oakwood Village. To Inspiration Point: Take a left out of Oakwood Village on N. Circle Dr. Turn left on Hwy. 243; after 0.2 mile, turn right on Toll Gate Rd. Follow for 0.7-mile and take a left on Meadow Glen Dr.; after 0.3-mile, turn right on Double View Dr. Follow for 1.2 miles to Inspiration Point. Return the way you came. Cafe Aroma has a dog-friendly patio!

Lake Fulmor San Jacinto Mountains

Idyllwild Wind-down

For some waterside downtime, head to Lake Fulmor (pictured), nestled in the San Jacinto Mountains and just 10 miles from town. Statuesque pines encircle the lake, which crisply reflects surrounding boulders. Before heading out, pick up a fresh deli sandwich from Nature's Wisdom (54235 Ridgeview Dr.). Picnic tables with BBQ pits and a few flat bedrocks make ideal spots for whiling away the afternoon. To stretch your legs, take a half-mile stroll on the easy loop around the lake.

STAY: Dream easy at the Strawberry Creek Inn. Its nine rooms (and one cottage) are instantly welcoming, as are hosts Rodney and Ian. Cozy up to the wood-burning fireplace in the reading room or relax in the garden hammock. Wake up to gourmet organic breakfasts like puffed pancakes with fresh fruit and toasted almonds or a corn strata casserole served family-style in the sun-filled dining room. A short set of stairs takes you down to Strawberry Creek, where strawberries are ripe for picking in summer. It’s a half-mile walk to town on a sun-dappled path that chases the bubbling creek. For a less expensive option, try sister property Strawberry Creek Bunkhouse. The knotty-pine interiors and open-beamed ceilings have a kitchen or kitchenette plus a private balcony. For tent camping, the forested and relatively private Idyllwild Campground in Mount San Jacinto State Park has 31 developed sites within walking distance of town. 

Lake Fulmor is located 10 miles north of the town center on Hwy. 243. Parking requires an Adventure Pass ($5/day pass; $30/annual pass). You can usually buy passes at the Mount San Jacinto State Park Ranger Station, but call ahead to ensure they have them available (909-382-2922). No swimming. The lake is dog-friendly! Strawberry Creek Inn (no dogs) is located at 26370 Hwy. 243; 951-659-3202. Strawberry Creek Bunkhouse (dog-friendly) is located at 25525 Hwy. 243; 951-659-2201. Rates at the inn start at $109 per night; rates at the bunkhouse start at $89. Camping at Mount San Jacinto State Park (951-659-2607) is $25 per night. Make a reservation through reserveamerica.com Dog-friendly. 

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