Last week was National Park Week and in celebration, we went to Idyllwild, CA and visited Humber Park! Idyllwild has many easily accessible trails for all level of hikers. Mom and I did the easy 2.6 mi (5.2mi round trip) Ernie Maxwell Scenic Trail, but I can’t wait to go back and do a more strenuous path soon!
Trails in Humber Park:
|Ernie Maxwell Scenic Trail – Easy, scenic, 2.6 miles (5.2 RT)|
|Palm Canyon Trail – Difficult, 9 miles. You will need written permission from the Agua Caliente Tribal Council to hike certain portions of Palm Canyon Trail that crosses tribal lands (call 619-325-5673)|
|Cahuilla Mountain Trail – Moderately difficult, great views, 2.5 miles|
|Webster Trail– Strenuous, 2.5 miles long with 1800 ft. elevation change.|
|South Fork Trail – Medium/Difficult, about 1000 ft elevation change, access to fishing at the River.|
|Black Mountain Trail (2E35) – Medium/ Difficult, 3.6 miles, 3200 ft. elev. change|
|Ramona Trail (3E26) – Medium, 3 miles, climbs 1500 ft., views of Garner Valley.|
|Fobes Trail (4E02) – Medium, 1.5 mi trail, gain of 800 ft., great views, part of the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT)|
|Cedar Spring Trail (4E17) – Medium, 3.2 mile hike, gain of 800 ft, on PCT|
|Pacific Crest Trail – The Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) extends 2,600 miles from Mexico to Canada. A hiking permit is required for travel through the wilderness section. Read “Wild” by Cheryl Strayed to get inspired!|
I’ll be talking about the hike we completed: the Ernie Maxwell Scenic Trail
This is a great trail to get your blood flowing and get a great sense of the area of Idyllwild without being too easy. It took us about 2 hours at a leisurely pace to complete the round trip hike. Bonus: Awesome view of the famous “Tahquitz” or “Lily” Rock.
First: You will need a Parking/ “Adventure Pass”
If you’re planning on driving up to ANY of these hikes, check with the visitors’ center or wherever you’re staying about where to, or IF you should, buy an “Adventure Pass”. They’re very easy to come by at pretty much any of the stores on the main road in Idyllwild. You will need to display said Adventure Pass on the hood of your car if you want to park at or near the trail heads. We didn’t know that and almost got stuck but luckily, it was #NationalParkWeek and it was free all week! Yay for good karma!
See “How to Get There” for parking info…
Second: Pack accordingly
Even though it was only a short distance, we were VERY happy that we brought our water bottles and a couple of snack bars on our little mini-hike. I would definitely advise having sunscreen and a hat as there are portions of every trail without a lot of tree cover.
As far as what to wear; regular running/walking shoes would have been totally fine on the Ernie Maxwell Scenic Trail, but I’m glad I wore my boots anyway. Sunglasses are a must. And of course, always nice to have layers- the mountain air is quite a few degrees cooler than town, and a good 20-30 degrees cooler than the bottom of the mountain!
Third: How to Get There
Original directions from hikespeak with some additions by yours truly:
Take Route 243 to Idyllwild and turn east on North Circle Drive. After 0.8 miles, bear right on Pinecrest Ave and make an immediate right on South Circle Drive. (It’s almost like a 3-way fork in the road, so make sure you take the right “prong” of the fork!
*FYI: you can buy an adventure pass at the antique store on this corner, and there is a wonderful restaurant here called IDYOLOGY- great for after-hike burgers!).
Make the next left onto Fern Valley Road and drive 1.7 miles to the trailhead (after half a mile, you will need to make a left turn to stay on Fern Valley Road). The trailhead is on the right (it’s the wooden sign pictured in my first photo), directly across from the big official sign at the entrance of “Humber Park”. There are parking spaces along two bends of Fern Valley Road just above Eddie Maxwell Scenic Trail. If you reach the loop at the top of Fern Valley Road where there are bathrooms and the start of Devil’s Slide Trail, you’ve gone too far. The other end of Eddie Maxwell Scenic Trail is located across from 54980 Tahquitz View Drive in Idyllwild.
Trailhead address: Fern Valley Road, San Bernardino National Forest, Idyllwild, CA 92549
Trailhead coordinates: 33.764735, -116.687213 (33° 45′ 53.04″N 116° 41′ 13.96″W)
Fourth: The Hike itself!
Super easy, super beautiful. If you have 2 cars, you can park at either end of the trail, but honestly I would do it as a loop because the views are unique both ways. Be sure to get a “money shot” of the famous Tahquitz Rock (aka “Lily Rock”) before you go!
The terrain was mild, only gained about 600 ft, definitely feels like a walking path without any big obstacles to cross. Also very well populated and attended so it felt very safe (esp. important for young women who are skiddish to go alone). There are restrooms up the hill from the first trailhead on Fern Valley Road.
Bonus: Fido is allowed!
Dogs are allowed on the Ernie Maxwell Trail as long as they’re kept on a leash. Thanks for throwing our furry friends a bone! Also, FYI, Idyllwild was one of the MOST PET FRIENDLY PLACES I’ve ever visited in my life. The “Living Free” Animal and Wildlife shelter was really moving and beautiful to see- totally worth a pit stop.