Not usually much of a dot on the tourist map, the artsy, pine-shaded town of Idyllwild, and the surrounding San Bernardino National Forest, offer a mountain playground both charming and challenging.
Trip length: 2 days, Total distance: 39mi/62.7km
SAN BERNARDINO NATIONAL FOREST. This Forest Service office, on the corner of Pinecrest and Highway 243, is the place to get tips on hiking trails, fishing spots, and where to camp. The region is also mountain biking heaven, with miles of dirt fire roads and challenging single-track trails, such as Hurkey Creek, Coyote Run, Sylvan Meadows, and 17-mile Romona Trail Loop. Get advice and rent bikes at Hub Cyclery.
IDYLLWILD (0.7mi/1.2km; 2min). Get picnic supplies at Country Farms , then head for Deer Springs Trail (6.6 miles roundtrip) to grimly named but dramatically beautiful Suicide Rock (popular with rock climbers). Hike back down to visit the Idyllwild Nature Center near the trailhead, with nature walks and natural history talks. INFO at San Bernardino National Forest.
IDYLLWILD (0.7mi/1.2km; 2min). Gyros, chicken kabobs, and baklava, washed down with strong Greek coffee, make a terrific way to end the day at The Greek Place (54200 North Circle Dr). INFO at Idyllwild Chamber of Commerce.
IDYLLWILD (14mi/22.5km; 30min). Explore the town’s eclectic galleries, from The Idyllwild Gallery of Fine Art and The Courtyard Gallery, to funky Café Aroma featuring local art, Italian fusion cuisine, live music, and really good scones. INFO at Idyllwild Chamber of Commerce.
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