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Hiking Local

Hiking Local

Hiking Local – Heart Rock Trail

We live in the best place in the effing country. We live an hour from Joshua Tree. An hour from LA. An hour from Disneyland. And only 40 minutes from the very, very wonderful Heart Rock Trail in Crestline.

Our friend, the creek

Our friend, the creek

Driving up to the small town of Crestline is via a wonderfully windy mountain road just North of San Bernardino. The trailhead is just to the left of Camp Seely, a mountain camp owned by the City of Los Angeles (which sounds weird to me, too), but make sure NOT to park in the Camp Seely parking lot. Instead, veer to the left at the fork and find a parking spot in any number of dirt parking spaces on the side of the road. Obviously, if you block the road or others, you are a dick. Don’t be a dick.

Heart Rock In All Its Glory

Heart Rock In All Its Glory

Once you hit the trail, you are immediately surrounded by a variety of pines, some of which have fallen across the trail, which is the only real hazards you may encounter on your journey. There’s also a beautiful creek that the trail clings to, which is pretty dang sweet. We were fortunate enough to come across a 10 week old red husky baby that reminded me of Gozer when we first adopted him. In all of our ooing and aahing, we forgot to ask her name. But it’s OK, I saw it in her eyes, her true name was Nala.



After a straddling a few fallen trees to get over them, we came across the namesake landmark: Heart Rock. It’s a pretty straightforward moniker: there is a rock with the shape of a heart hollowed out inside. After the requisite photoshoot, we started heading back down the trail. We made sure to stop along the creek, poking at some weird bugs and judging the turds who carved their initials into the trees like some real fuckos. Aaaaand that’s it. It’s a short hike, only about ¾ mile each way, but absolutely worth the drive to go check it out. Go check it out.

Hiking Local

Hiking Local – Santa Rosa Plateau Ecological Preserve


Meadows and mountains alike at Santa Rosa Plateau

I love where I live. If I drive an hour East, I’m in Joshua Tree National Park. An hour and a half West lies the Pacific Ocean. And hour northeast and I’m in the amazing mountain community of Big Bear Lake. And an hour south? The Santa Rosa Plateau Ecological Preserve. Post Christmas, and with a shiny new zoom lens, Cal & I headed out, snagging her mom along the way.

Located near Murrieta, CA, the Santa Rosa Plateau boasts over 9,000 acres with a variety of interesting ecosystems. There’s meadows of low brush, forests of Engelmann oak, and plenty of chaparral. There are also miles of hiking trails, but on this particular day, we opted for the Vernal Pools and Historic Adobes trails.

The vernal pools come and go with the rains, but we were lucky this time around to see them in nearly full force, even if they did give me a bit of the Dead Marshes vibe (from Lord of the Rings). No, you’re a nerd. There’s a nifty circular dock that allows you to look at the pools from within their border, looking directly down into the water without getting your boots covered in muck. If you’re lucky, you’ll get to see some fairy shrimp, one species of which ONLY exists in these pools and nowhere else in the world. I know, that’s nuts.

Vernal pools in winter? California doesn’t care about “seasons.”

The pools themselves aren’t far from the parking lot, and COULD be a stop off before any number of other trails, but we continued on to the Historic Adobes, which, having been built in 1846, are the two oldest standing structures in Riverside county!

The trail to the Adobes, which the area’s cowboys used to crash in, is up a quick hill, down a narrow trail with bushes on either side (and was quite muddy on this particular day), up another hill, and finally down through a wide valley with a beautiful view of the snow-capped San Jacinto Mountain range. On the way, you get to see plenty of prickly cacti, a wide range of wildflowers, and a generous helping of picturesque panoramas.

I didn’t find the Adobes themselves particularly interesting, but we were surrounded by a 400-year-old oak tree and its avian residents. An acutely adorable Acorn Woodpecker aspired to be a model, thus posing for me for an extended period of time. Not to be outdone, a Scrub Jay pranced about in a tree, demanding equal opportunity for a contract.

Acorn woodpecker looking quite smug.

As we left the Adobes for the last 1.4-mile leg of the hike, we climbed a short, albeit mildly steep, hill until we found ourselves flanked on the right by a stunning meadow. While we did see plenty of coyote tracks, we didn’t get to witness any bouncing around. After kicking the mud off our boots, it was but a short jaunt to our perfectly-located home.


Santa Rosa Plateau Ecological Preserve:


Costs:$4 each adult pedestrian, $3 each child between 2-12.

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