We can’t seem to get enough of hiking in the snow. The weekend comes, and we head out in search of another snowy hike. We crave the fresh air and activity that comes with a winter hike in the mountains. Since we weren’t completely sure of our final destination, we decided it was best if we left the dogs at home this time around.
After packing a few snacks, we hit the road with a basic destination. We were heading towards the snowy San Jacinto Mountains. Trails pepper the entire area. We would make our final hike decision once we arrived. Our plan, if possible, was to stop by a ranger station to see what they recommended for a day hike.
Up the mountain we went. Narrow switchback roads did not play well with our poor motion sick girl, but she toughed it out. Eventually, the road eased up. People were parked here and there along the road as they played in the snow. When you live in a desert community, everyone seems to gravitate towards the snow. It was a holiday weekend which means many people decided it was time for a snow day.
M was glad to arrive at the ranger station in Idyllwild as it allowed her to get some fresh air and settle her turning tummy. We talked to the park ranger about the different options and explained that we didn’t want to be in a highly crowded area. He recommended the Ernie Maxwell Scenic Trail, but he suggested not going to the main trail head as it would be super crowded due to the snow play area there.
Our trip to the Ernie Maxwell Scenic Trail trail head didn’t take long. The pavement ended and the muddy, snowy road began. It was a mess. We eventually found a pull-off that worked for parking not too far from the trail head. We had a bite to eat before bundling up and hitting the trail. It was chilly!
It was quickly apparent that this trail was going to involve a great deal of uphill hiking. With my short little legs, I found myself lagging behind once again. It’s okay though as I was able to get several good pictures of daddy and daughter hiking together.
The trail was well traveled without any deep snow on the actual trail. You could definitely see where the sun was hitting the trail versus the shaded areas.
The shaded areas were snowy and in some places icy. If we keep up with the winter hiking, we’ll probably want/need to invest in some crampons. Several of the other hikers that we passed were wearing the crampons, and they had an easier time navigating the slicker parts of the trail. The sunny areas of the trail were, at times, quite muddy.
I was reminded that I need to look into a different coat for hiking. While a Carhartt is great for working outdoors around the homestead, it’s a bit on the warm and bulky side for hiking. It wasn’t long before we were shedding different pieces of our cold weather gear. I was also wishing I had brought my trekking poles with me for the more slick areas of the trail.
Even if the going was tough at times, the views were stunning and worth the trek. High altitude and cold don’t always play nice with my asthma, but I choose to push through it as I love being outdoors hiking with my family. The beauty of nature surrounds us. The fresh, cool air nips at our skin and fills our lungs. It’s nice to take a break from the dusty desert air.
The trip back towards the trail beginning was much faster as most of it was downhill. We continued to take in the gorgeous views and peaceful nature around us. We enjoyed the snowy hike and look forward to more hiking in the future.
Ernie Maxwell Scenic Trail Facts
- The hike on the Ernie Maxwell Scenic Trail is roughly 2.6 miles one way.
- The elevation change is around 1,000 feet.
- The trail has moderate steepness.
- The hike, depending on the trail conditions, is considered an easy hike.
- The trail is open year around, but hikers need to be aware of the weather conditions for their own safety.
- Dogs are allowed on the trail, but a leash is required.
The Ernie Maxwell Scenic Trail was our first hike in the 2017 52 Hike Challenge. We’d love to have you follow us on our year-long hiking adventure.