The 4-Hour Rule: Idyllwild

A cabin, a butt-busting hike and an unsung foodie mecca

By Reuben Brody

Idyllwild: The Old-School California Mountain Town You Need to Visit
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11 October 2018

Stipulated: the perfect travel time for a three-day weekend getaway is four hours. More, and you waste your vacation. Less, and you’re still near home. Hence our series, The 4hr. Rule, dedicated to revealing the best destinations that are far away, yet still close to home.

This month, we’re Idyllwild bound for a cool escape from the city. There’s a rustic cabin with your name on it, a massive hike to get the ticker in high gear, a quaint lake to bring things down and solid restaurants for grubbing and tippling.

stay (4 images)

STAY: Idyllwild-Pine Cove Cabin
This well-appointed cabin boasts a gourmet kitchen, plush beds and an outdoor hot tub, which was the clincher for us: hot-tubbing on a 40-degree starry night is not a terrible way to spend an evening. Especially after a few hoppy beers. And maybe a joint. It’s also close to town and the trails.

Images: Present HomeAway

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HIKE: Tahquitz Peak
If you’ve followed us this season you know we’ve done two major hiking trips: one on the lesser-known trails of Joshua Tree and the other up to the region’s tallest peak, Mt. Baldy. Now we’re conquering another mountain: Tahquitz Peak. And we’re going the long way, an 8.3-miler (round trip in and out) that climbs 2,400 feet. You’ll end up at a max elevation of 8,846 feet, which — given its location in Riverside County — means that on a clear day, you’ll be able to see the ocean, Catalina, Joshua Tree and Palm Springs. Tahquitz is Cahuilla Indian for evil shaman, and given the rocky climb, it’s a name well-earned. The Cahuilla migrated to this mountaintop to escape the sweltering heat of the valley below, and though it’s cooler up here, try to start your ascent in the a.m. to avoid midday thermals. Here are the directions.

Images: Glenn Fogarty/All Trails

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LOUNGE: Lake Fulmor
Plan to spend an afternoon at Lake Fulmor on either Saturday after your hike or Sunday before heading home. You can and should picnic here, and maybe drop a line, as the waters are stocked with lake trout. It’s peaceful, redolent of pine and gives us the Yosemite feels.

Images: Ferran Porta/Flickr

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WHERE TO EAT
Idyllwild is a hidden gem of a town, and so too are its restaurants. Granted, nothing is too fancy in this laid-back hippy town, but if you want something nice, Ferro is a solid Italian spot with an amazing deck. Coffee snobs should hit Higher Ground for locally roasted brew before heading for the hike, or give The Town Baker a try if you want some bomb pastries (it gets crowded, so consider yourself warned). For a post-hike lunch, hit Cafe Aroma for a sloppy chicken parm and a beer (you earned it). One night, plan to visit Idyll Awhile, a wine and cheese bar with a strong charcuterie board and live music. After that head to the Idyllwild Brewpub, a Belgian-style taphouse with around 14 ales and standard pub fare. They also have live music and are the only spot in town open past 9 p.m.

Images: Ferro/Facebook

Main Image: Arvinder Bir/All Trails

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