Idyllwild and Deer Springs Trail: An Artsy Town with Backpacking Practice
Less than an hour's drive from Palm Desert, Idyllwild is an oasis of Redwood trees and granite peaks. About a mile above sea level, Idyllwild has a boarding school for burgeoning artists. In the summer, when the kids are away, Idyllwild Arts Academy has intensive art classes for adults including a "metals week" for jewelry making. The coolness factor of a town consisting of artists, teachers, and musicians is increased by the picturesque hiking trails.
If you're new to backpacking like me, Deer Springs Trail offers great views and wild animal sightings. Don't worry about bear proofing because it is said that bears do not reside here. Strewn about the trail are granite boulders at chair level. If you over-stuff your pack to where it's almost unbearable to carry like I did, you can still rest on a boulder every five minutes.