On July 29, 2010, ten members of the SoCal Freehikers gathered to hike the Cedar Springs Trail above Idyllwild, California – 8 men and 2 women. This trail is a seven-mile round-trip hike rated year-round and moderate. In “140 Hikes In and Around Palm Springs”, this is hike #93: Jo Pond Trail to Cedar Spring. It was a wonderful hiking trail.
PJ and I carpooled with friends the just over one hour trip from Olive Dell Ranch where we live. Talking about the area and anticipating the hike on the way made the drive time go fast.
We waited at the trail head until most of those who were expected had arrived. It was great to see our freehiking buddies – especially those who were hiking with us for the first time. There is always a special camaraderie with others who understand the joy of freehiking.
Gil, our leader for this freehike, explained that we would have to hike clothed for a short distance at first because we were near a scout camp - we could hear the kids below. At 9:15 we started up the trail. Soon we were past the camp boundary and were able to undress – so much more comfortable than walking in sweaty clothes.
The trail was improved and easy to follow. The first part meandered through meadows and shady groves of oak. Then the trail climbed for 1.5 miles up switch backs, making for a fairly easy uphill climb.
Scenery along the way was unforgettable. Yucca, prickly pear, Manzanita, scrub oak, so many other types of vegetation, wonderfully colored granite, amazing vistas – so much to see and feel. Walking along the trail mostly single file, the breeze cooling our bodies, gathering at lookout points to rest and enjoy the view - freehiking with good friends in nature – it just doesn’t get any better than that.
Climbing from just over 5000 feet to over 6800 feet in about two hours, we reached the top of the ridge where the trail crossed the Pacific Coast Trail at Desert Divide. We paused to eat lunch in the shade of an oak. Here was a geocache filled with trail foods that some members of the group exchanged with items they had brought. The entire town of Palm Springs could be seen down the canyon in the distance below.
After lunch we decided to turn back rather than to continue down the slope to Cedar Spring. PJ led a fast pace back down the trail. Along the way we paused several times under shady oak trees to rest. Near the end of the trail we dressed, and soon after greeted the only other person we saw on the trail – a young man riding a mountain bike.
Soon we returned to our vehicles, and said goodbye to our SoCal Freehiking friends. This was such an enjoyable hike for all - unforgettable. It’s too sad other members missed this exceptional freehike. Hopefully many members will attend our next hike; we’ll share the location soon.
We’re still looking for new areas to hike. Let us know of any likely locations.
Here are a few photos from this wonderful Cedar Creek freehike (be sure to click on “show all” near the bottom to see all of the photos): http://www.imageevent.com/kenandjane/idyllwildhike