A Visit to Hemet, CA

Hemet, CA

As we make our way toward San Diego for the month of December we had a week to explore somewhere new.  It is about 160 miles from our last stop in Twentynine Palms to San Diego so we decided to split the trip in half.  We looked at a map and found the town of Hemet, CA almost exactly at the half way point, so we reserved a spot there in the Golden Village Palms RV Resort.

Hemet is a city of over 80,000 people located in what is called the Inland Empire.  We spent a relaxing time here, doing some cleaning and minor repairs to the motorhome.  But we did find time for a couple of decent hikes near the city.

Just a few miles to the south is Diamond Valley Lake.  The lake is one of the largest reservoirs in California and one of the newest, completed in 2003.  The water for the reservoir is pumped from just north of the Parker Dam on the Colorado River along the California – Arizona state line, over 200 miles away.  A number of hiking trails go around the lake.  We decided to hike the North Hills Trail about 2.5 miles up to a viewpoint overlooking the lake.

The trail goes up and down over a series of small hills before it turns to the south, going  around a water tower, then steeply uphill to the overlook.

Going steeply up toward the vista

As we climbed the steep trail the lake came into view behind us.

Near the top of the hill is a flat area with a picnic table.  We continued past it and headed further up the next hill behind the table.

At the very top of the hill we had a great 360 degree view of the lake to the south and Hemet to the north.

The view south across the lake

Walt Whitman ponders his next poem

The city of Hemet to the north

Hemet sits on the western base of the San Jacinto Mountains.  One day we drove almost 30 miles up into the mountains to the town of Idyllwild, where we found our way to Humber Park located at 6,100 ft.  The small park located above the town serves as the trailhead to a couple of trails.  We went there to hike on the Ernie Maxwell Scenic Trail (Maxwell founded the town’s newspaper).  Towering over the parking area for Humber Park is Lily Rock (also know as Tahquitz Rock, part of Tahquitz Peak), a popular spot for climbers.  The rock is said to have a lily white appearance, which might account for the name.  Another theory is that it was named for Lily Eastman, who was the daughter of one of the founders of the nearby city of Riverside.

Lily Rock looms over Humber Park

Ernie Maxwell Scenic Trailhead

The Ernie Maxwell Scenic Trail goes slowly down the side of a hill for about 2.7 miles for a 675 ft overall descent.  We hiked about two miles before stopping for a snack and returning back up the trail.

At one point we caught a glimpse of Diamond Valley Lake to the west.

Manzanita Trees lined the trail

Nice view of Lily Rock from the trail

Just to our north we could see Suicide Rock.  According to legend, the name of Suicide Rock comes from a story of a Native American princess and her lover who, after being ordered to separate, instead committed suicide by jumping off the rock.  It is speculated that this story originated in an attempt to boost tourism to this area in the late 19th century.

Suicide Rock on the left

Driving back down to Hemet we enjoyed some great views of the valley below.

After a pleasant week in Hemet we will now complete our journey south to San Diego where we will be spending a month in Mission Bay.  More on that later . . .

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18 Responses to A Visit to Hemet, CA

  1. The Ernie Maxwell Scenic Trail is a gem. Thanks for sharing. Can’t wait to read about your month in San Diego.

  2. Nancy says:

    Those Manzanita Trees are beautiful to see along with those great views. Looking forward to your San Diego photos. We plan on a trip there very soon!

  3. Hans Kohls says:

    See you soon, I have the beers chilling!

  4. Jodee Gravel says:

    Looks like a nice park – I’ll have to remember that one. A lovely view for Walt to get inspiration 🙂 Idyllwild is a family favorite and you had a nice clear day to enjoy it. Love that giant rock along the trail!!

  5. Jeff Pierce says:

    We certainly like Idyllwild, and the Ernie Maxwell trail is a favorite. Now that you where the trail ends park, we like to park there and hike up to Huber Park.
    Welcome to San Diego!

  6. Susan Bank says:

    Love Walt Whitman in the weeds. We’re jealous that you’re in SanDiego for the month. The grass is always greener isn’t it! Merry Christmas to you both, I know you’re looking forward to seeing Jessica et al soon.

  7. Debbie L says:

    Wow, what a great stop over! That’s our kind of place….you just can’t find this on the east coast. We are afraid once we get out there, we won’t want to come back east…..Looks so addicting…..

  8. We have never stayed in Hemet, just drove through. Nice to know there are some hiking trails nearby…and it’s always great to head into Idylwild. It’s been ages, but I remember the hike up to suicide rock being very steep!

  9. Laurel says:

    The Ernie Maxwell trail looks fabulous! We’ve always wanted to explore Idylwild but haven’t gotten around to it yet. The list grows ever longer. Can’t wait to see you in a couple of days….and Walt can read us his new poem! :-))

  10. Love those manzanita trees–we want to plant some in our yard, they grow wild just up the road from us. Mike’s mom and dad once owned a park model in Hemet.

  11. georgeyates says:

    Looks like a nice hike and wonderful views. Now to enjoy your time in San Diego.

  12. Jim and Barb says:

    Incredible that they divert the water over 200 miles to fill the reservoir, That is an engineering feat in itself,

  13. Sherry says:

    I just love that you look at a map and pick a place half way to San Diego. What a great way to plan. Pumping water from 200 miles away just seems problematic to me. That is a gorgeous view at the top of Diamond Valley Lake. Amazing that you ran into Walt Whitman. What luck. Those are some seriously big rocks on the Ernie Maxwell Trail. The story of suicide rock actually almost makes me laugh since I’ve heard that Native American jump off something at I don’t know how many different place. How wonderful to be in Mission Bay for a month. The longer I full time the more I seem to enjoy extended stays.

  14. Steve & Dianne Colibaba says:

    We had a snowball fight in Idyllwild a few years ago. Cool little town. That looks like a great hike too. Safe travels!

  15. heyduke50 says:

    We sure enjoyed our stay in Hemet last year…

  16. pmbweaver says:

    The Maxwell trail is wonderful. I love the view from the top. I have never heard of Manzanita Trees. They are so cool.
    Is Walt willing to share his latest poem?
    Enjoy San Diego. Looks like gorgeous weather.

  17. LuAnn says:

    I have only hiked one trail in Hemet in Simpson Park but have hiked a couple in Idylwild, with more on the list. It was wonderful to catch up with you and John the other night. Looking forward to more visits during your stay in SD.

  18. geogypsy2u says:

    I am impressed how you find trails wherever you go. Moving Colorado River water 200 miles makes no sense to me at all.

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