Rock New Heights

To get the lay of the land (i.e., gorgeous views of Idyllwild’s bountiful surroundings), take a 6.6-mile round-trip…

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To get the lay of the land (i.e., gorgeous views of Idyllwild’s bountiful surroundings), take a 6.6-mile round-trip hike through a smorgasbord of scenery that tops out at a classic peak. The steady ascent to 7,500-foot Suicide Rock (named for a local legend of two Cahuilla Indian lovers who threw themselves off the rock rather than be separated by the tribal chief’s orders) burns the thighs but rewards the senses. Manzanita trees with smooth, chocolate-colored bark and patches of bright wildflowers like lupine decorate the high-desert terrain at the start of the hike. Black oaks pepper the path, and towering pines mark the arrival of a more alpine landscape as you near the pinecone-strewn summit. When the trail ends, walk 100 feet to your right, circling around giant boulders to a secluded lookout spot with spectacular vistas. South across Garner Valley, you’ll see the rolling hills of the Pacific Crest Trail and glittering Lake Hemet. To the southeast, Lily Rock and Tahquitz Peak feel a stone’s throw away across Strawberry Valley. Lie back on one of the white granite rocks and enjoy.

Suicide Rock via the Deer Springs Trail is 6.6 miles (round-trip). The Deer Springs trailhead is located across from the Idyllwild Nature Center, less than 1 mile north of town center on Hwy. 243. Park across from the nature center on a large dirt pull-out. A few paths begin at the pull-out, but all lead to the Dear Springs Trail. Follow the well-marked route 2.3 miles to the signed Suicide Junction. Continue straight as directed for 1 more mile to the summit. Free wilderness permits are required for this hike and can be obtained at the Mount San Jacinto State Park Ranger Station, 0.5-mile south from the trailhead on Hwy. 243. No dogs.

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