Idyllwild, Ca.

Idyllwild, Ca.

What I have to say about the gem hidden away in the Southern California mountains. 

A little over an hour detour from the 15 south towards San Diego you find yourself no longer driving on rounds lined with palm tress, but fir and rising pines. For those living in the most southern region of California this micro road trip is the closest and fastest  to a mountain escape.

Idyllwild, Ca. A gem found in the San Jacinto Mountains.

On a trip to California for the the holidays I visited the area three separate times, and will definitely find myself there more in upcoming trips. My first adventure to the tucked away gem was for a mini sunset hike on the Cedar Springs Trail with my boyfriend. Now i’ll admit it was cold. Not the kind of cold where you have irrational thoughts of losing your fingers to frostbite, but the kind the sinks into your clothes and sticks to your bones. Other than feeling like Frosty’s off spring, the hike was well worth it.

  The trail is actually located in Desert Divide, about 17 miles from actual Idyllwild, but makes for a good pit stop before heading into the little community. from the trail head the hike is about 5.9 miles round trip. It’s a short little hike but with quite a few switch backs the last half mile. Patches of snow covered the ground through out the entire trail. Matt took this as an opportunity to make himself a miniature snowman. Pretty cute huh?

We made it to the top in about an hour and were greeted by 360 panoramic views. I have seen my fair share of sunsets, but there is something about the golden hour reflecting of snow and turning the surrounding mountains different shades of pinks and purples that just marks this certain one noteworthy. This part of the trail offers views of Palm Springs and surrounding peaks, this is also where the trail intercepts the Pacific Crest Trail.


Our time was limited at the top of the trail with it already being sunset and we did not arrive equipped with flash lights other than our phones, and the temperature was dropping almost faster than the sun was setting.

We made it down the mountain in record timing, which was good because neither of us could honestly say we could feel anything at that moment.

We drove about 17 miles from the trail head to the main strip of Idyllwild. We were desperate for a warm drink to help us defrost the imaginary icicles hanging from our noses. Then there it was. The neon sign presented by God himself. There was a coffee shop still open. Now I have a certain love affair for coffee and cute coffee shops. I love when they are quaint and unique, and this one was exactly that. When we walked into Higher Grounds we were immediately greeted with the smell of espresso, the sounds of a family playing chess in the corner and a Christmas tree by the window. We ordered the Alpine drink  and took our seats of the sofa right beside the Christmas tree. They provided ornaments for you to write your name and where you were from. From what I could see, we were the only ones from Honolulu. We were there for about an hour before it was there closing time, but it was the perfect ending to a great late afternoon escape.

I fell in love with this region so much that I ended up returning to it two more times within a week.  On one of the excursions I convinced my brother and mom to join me so I could see the area in the daytime. We packed up my brother’s jeep and the dog headed out to the snowy town. To no one’s surprise I found myself right back at Higher Grounds coffee, although they were a lot more packed, the coffee was still up to par.


The last time was for another hike on the Deer Springs Trail with my friend Meghan on New Years Eve. We had about 30 minutes of clear views of the surrounding mountains while sitting on a wide rock vista until a thick fog began to crawl across the horizon and encircle us. We made the most of the weather until the temperature was dropping to point that was becoming uncomfortable in the clothing we had on. We listened to the Mogleys until we came to a stop at no other than Higher Grounds.. Do you see a theme here? Or maybe it’s just a personal problem. This time we both tried out their specialty drink, the Cozy Cabin. Again the tiny shop was a little too crowded so we found some outside seating beside a small art gallery behind the coffee shop. We took our turns laughing at the way our breath froze in the air, talked about the new year approaching and watched the many dogs roaming around with their owners dawning their own little winter sweaters. Sitting there in those chairs, and drinking our coffee we both discussed camping in the area during the summertime to explore a few more trails in the area. I don’t mind the idea at all.

Higher Grounds Coffee Shop. 54245 N Circle Dr, Idyllwild, CA 92549

While reading more about the little community, I found out that there is also an abundance of rock climbing routes and bouldering locations throughout the area. If that isn’t enough, there is also year round camping, cabin rentals, and there is fishing at Lake Hemet just about 8.5 miles away. I can find myself here again many times in future adventures, and would suggest it as a great area to visit for just about anyone.

 

What little mountain town is YOUR favorite? Let me know in the comments! 🙂

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