Hiking Idyllwild: Ernie Maxwell Trail
Sometimes you want to hike up a mountain to a peak, but other times a hike around the mountain is just as grand. This is what the Ernie Maxwell trail is.
I spent a few years living in Idyllwild as a very young child and this is the trail I remember hiking as a kid. It was easy enough for my brother and I to do as active 6 year olds, which gives you an idea of what this hike is like.
The Ernie Maxwell Trail, from Humber Park, in Idyllwild, California - the details:
Distance: 5 miles round trip - out and back
With an anticlimactic ending, any distance can be done on this trail - just turn around when you’ve walked enough.
Elevation Gain: 700 feet
We started from Humber Park which means hiking slightly downhill on the way out and up hill on the way back. This is not a peak trail, so mostly gradual up and down along the way. This is not a strenuous hike by any means.
Average time: 2-3 hours.
We spent about three hours on this trail, including a peaceful twenty minute break for lunch on a big rock off the trail.
Special features: While there aren’t really any epic views from this trail, there are a few things to note that you will see:
A lot of big boulders - one of my favorite features about the Idyllwild forest. These boulders can be covered in beautiful bright green moss. We hiked this the middle of January after a few days of rain and snow, so the colors were popping!
Peekaboo views of Suicide Rock, San Jacinto and Tahquitz Peak (Lily Rock).
There are at least three seasonal creek crossings, so be prepared for some rock hopping, especially just after rainfall.
Dog friendly! This is the only trail leaving from Humber Park that allows dogs so expect to come across them on your hike. If you have a pup and want to hike in the San Jacinto National Forest, this is a great trail for you!
We hiked this trail in January, during the government shutdown. Trying to avoid overcrowding at our nearby National Parks we chose to do a hike in the woods. This trail is at a National Forest trailhead however, so the gate was closed to most of the parking. If you plan to go on this hike, be prepared - Humber Park requires a National Forest Adventure Pass to park in the parking lot.
Idyllwild is a great little town, with a ton of hiking and camping and other adventures to enjoy. Per our tradition, we stopped in town on the way out and grabbed a delicious cheeseburger and a cold beer at the Lumber Mill. This town provides an amazing mountain getaway, and some great forests adventures!