Idyllwild Park is a great place to take your dog when you're visiting this unique mountain town in Riverside County. Compared to the farming valleys to the west and the desert valleys to the east, Idyllwild is cooler and more lushly forested. Up here, streams run through dense stands of conifers and grass grows thick in alpine meadows. Rocky peaks loom in the background and snow is common in the winter.
Idyllwild Park is a popular camping and picnicking site and also boasts a network of over five miles of trails. It's a great option when you want to get in a good hike with your dog, but want to stay close to town. Do note that the park charges a day use fee per person and per dog to use the park rather than a single parking fee. To use the park, you will need to pay $6 per adult, $3 per child, and $2 per dog. You do get lots of amenities in return—in addition to bathrooms for human hikers, Idyllwild Park provides running water and doggie waste bags.
Despite these conveniences, you won't feel like you're close to a town here. The hiking trails take you through rugged wilderness, up rock-laden slopes to vistas overlooking acres of unspoiled forest. Manzanita bushes and Ponderosa and Jeffrey pine pepper the air with
scents and the meadows burst with flowers in the early summer. Giant
boulders are fun to scramble over, and clean mountain streams in hidden,
sun-dappled dells are a great place for water-loving canines to take a
quick splash. It won't be long before something else captures their attention, though. Squirrels, chipmunks, and songbirds keep the forests alive with their chirping and chittering and bursts of scurrying motion.
Named trails here include the Campground, Hillside, Summit, and Perimeter Trails and you can make any combination of them into a satisfying loop hike. One popular two-mile loop takes the Campground Trail to the Hillside Trail with a return along either the Summit Trail or the Perimeter Trail. It's a good idea to examine a trail map, though the trails are well-groomed and marked.
After a day spent in this pristine forest paradise, you'll be more in tune with your senses, noticing so many new smells that you might gain some insight into how your canine companion experiences the world.