Hike and mountain bike the day away in Idyllwild
Idyllwild is a small mountain town at the foot of Mt. San Jacinto that can be jam-packed full of tourists and vacationers on the weekends, but if you time it right during an off week, the middle of the week can be quite quiet. On a recent trip, I set out in the cool morning air to hike up to the PCT at Saddle Junction via the Devils Slide route, a popular outing. Along the way as I stepped some 2.5 miles with a little under 1,700 feet of elevation gain, spectacular views of Tahquitz Peak and Suicide Rock across the way appeared and disappeared from the forest canopy. PCT thru-hikers bopped their way down the trail, the town being a long-standing refueling spot. Bird songs lifted as the sun reached higher into the sky. Viewing Tahquitz, a well-known climbing spot in southern California with a history nearing 100 years, I thought to myself: Idyllwild has all you need for a few days to recharge oneself.
On the other side of town there are The Hub trails. No maps exist for them, other than in a few corners of the internet. I had long heard of the trails, but never really put forth much effort to locate them until this latest trip. Built and maintained by local mountain bikers, they twist, turn, climb and descend in classic cross-country rhythms of yesterday, so to speak. I marveled at what I “found,” declaring to friends via text that they were the best mountain biking trail network in southern California. Up on a ridge trail, looking across to Mt. San Jacinto and having not seen another person for nearly two hours, the day spring-time-warm and sunny with a soft breeze, I experienced a moment of blissfulness. Sometimes things align and the energy feels so good, despite the onset of tiredness, that you tell yourself to push on a little more, riding the stoke a little longer.
At the end of the day, after hiking Devils Slide in the morning and pedaling The Hub trails for a few hours in the afternoon, I sat on a boulder and had an IPA from the local beer maker: Idyllwild Brewpub. They recently started canning six-packs of it. First impression: it is not a west coast IPA. It is not loaded with hops. My goodness, it reminded of IPAs brewed back east in the 1990s, with a little more malt presence than what we see today in a lot of IPAs. Not really sweet, but something along those lines. I would say it is easily drinkable, especially when sitting in a forest, which I guess is to say: why complain?
When in town, be sure to stop by the brew pub. The patio setting is very relaxing, has a pretty view with all the trees around, a perfect spot to simply chill out. Grub and grog in that setting will satiate more than your belly.