Wednesday, July 1, 2009

More Idyll Than Wild


Idyllwild is the gateway to the San Jacinto Wilderness. Sprinkled around the town are trailheads that lead the intrepid hiker into the high country. I have used all of these trailheads and hiked all of these trails, many of which are quite challenging. Today, however, I found a trail that I have never done before. Why hadn't I hiked this trail that is right near the town center? It's too easy.

This morning I drove up to Idyllwild looking for a hike. Since I needed to be at work by 2 I didn't have a lot of time. I thought I might hike up the Deer Springs Trail to Suicide Rock. Nice views, easy access, not too tough for my son Nikolas were all good reasons to do this hike. But when we went over to the trailhead we saw something interesting.

What is this? I wonder if they have any trails in here.

So we went in to check it out and found out the Nature Center is a little museum-like building with all kinds of hands on displays for kids,

Exhibits about the history of the area,

stuffed native animals like this Mountain Lion,

and this Golden Eagle. It is a very interesting little museum and we both really wished we had more time to enjoy it but we had a hike to do. Our hike was short since our time was very limited today. But we are going to have to come back, and soon.

Our hike was probably the easiest hike I have done this year. That doesn't mean it wasn't great fun, though. The sign says it is only 1/2 mile and will take 3/4 of an hour to cover. We'll walk slow to make sure it does.

There are numbered areas along the trail that correspond to various points of interest. We learned that the bark of the Jeffrey Pine smells like vanilla. Smell one sometime because it really does.

There are lots of things to see along the trail and plenty of lizards for boys to catch. Just make sure they let them go, though. You cannot take anything from the center.

There is a great spot with 13 bedrock mortars where Cahuilla Indians ground acorns into meal. The mortars are perfectly situated under an oak tree.

After our hike, we saw this little guy trying to steal seeds from the bird feeder. He ultimately was unsuccessful but we enjoyed watching his persistence.

To finish off, we did the short hike up to a viewpoint near the Nature Center. You could see San Jacinto Mountain, Suicide and Tahquitz Rocks behind Nikolas and other various ranges in the direction Nikolas is now looking.

Here's a closer look at Tahquitz, or Lily, Rock.

Although this was my first visit to the Idyllwild Nature Center, I certainly will not be my last. It should be on the list of things to do for anyone visiting Idyllwild and at the top of the list if you are bringing kids along. While the hikes are easy--there are more than the ones we went on--they are rewarding and, more importantly, the weather is much cooler than in the desert right now. I can't wait to go back.

No comments: