Climb the mountains and get their good tidings. Nature's peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees. The winds will blow their own freshness into you, and the storms their energy, while cares will drop away from you like the leaves of Autumn.
My flatmate in I were craving a forest escape, and found one within an easy few hour drive from Orange County. Idyllwild, a small mountain town in the San Jacinto Mountains, felt like an oasis. Full of firs, cedars, pines and adorned in the thin-air scent of dirt and sap - we felt cleansed and giddy as soon as we opened the car door to begin our day hike.
We made a stop at the Idyllwild Ranger Station to ask inquire about a recommended day hike. Since I'm nursing a minor foot injury, we asked for one that was not the most rigorous, and the cheery ranger recommended the Deer Springs Trailhead that leads up to Suicide Rock (No Adventure Pass needed, but you fill out a a Wilderness Day Use Permit at the ranger station which is free).
From the Deer Springs Trailhead (5600 ft elevation) it is a 3.3 mile gentle climb with a gain of only 1700 ft to get to Suicide Rock. We were happily surprised to find significant amounts of snow on the ground. However, due to my on-the-mend foot I stopped short of the Suicide Rock summit since the trail conditions got a bit slick. My flatmate experienced the view for us both however.
The panoramas going up were stunning, and I, with Audubon Tree Guide in tow was happily making my first attempts at using it to identify trees on the trail. We ended delightfully tired from the hike, but not exhausted, and all in the afterglow of being outside all day and at elevation.