Lake Hemet camping picnic area

Take a road trip to Lake Hemet area to escape the heat of the desert

Lake Hemet camping

Coachella Valley is famous for its music festival, golf, casinos, and restaurants. The mild winters draw many people from Los Angeles and from across the country. Sometimes though the weather can be too hot, even in wintertime, and some of the snowbirds miss snow or just want a break from the heat. One does not have to go far to cool off. Take a road trip to the Lake Hemet area, which is located up in the mountains, and enjoy the fresh air and moderate temperatures. Occasionally, there could be snow and ice. What a change from the weather in the valley.

Snow-covered mountains
Santa Rosa and San Jacinto visitor center

Highway 74, also known as Pine to Palms highway starts in Palm Desert at the intersection with Highway 111 near the El Paseo shopping district and close to the Living Desert Zoo. The road goes straight up for about 2-3 miles. Then on the left, you will see the entrance to the Mountain Center, where you can learn a lot about Santa Rosa and San Jacinto mountains. There are also several hikes that start at this Mountain Center. Route 74 continues the climb, and that’s where the driving fun begins. The road has to reach almost 5,000 feet, and the car and driver have to negotiate about 7 tight hairpin turns. It gets quite a bit easier to drive after the initial ascend.

Coachella Valley vista point is a lovely scenic stop where people take a break from driving, have a snack, and snap some pictures. Continuing further up, there will be another opportunity to stop and explore the interpretive walk by the Cahuilla Tewanet people. Many displays explain the history of the Coachella Valley, Tewanet people, plants, and animals.

Byway 74 hairpin turns and view of Coachella Valley
Coachella Valley vista point at highway 74
Cahuilla Tewanet Vista Point at highway 74
Wilderness trail at Cahuilla Tewanet scenic stop

Ramona trail is a moderate hike about 3 miles long. The weather is much cooler on this hiking trail, and the trees are much larger too. Tall pine trees line both sides of the hike, and the air is fresh and filled with a pine aroma. Further up the highway is lake Hemet which has camping and day-use areas. Here you can see many aquatic birds while having lunch at the picnic table. Almost across the road is Hurkey Creek Park, which offers similar facilities. This road trip will probably take anywhere from 2-4 hours to complete depending on the time spent at each point. It is pretty and different from the desert in the valley.

Young couple looking at beautiful Coachella Valley
Couple enjoying the scenery from highway 74
Romantic full moon above the mountains
Scenic view of the valley from above
Santa Rosa and San Jacinto National monument
A sharp turn at highway 74
Coachella Valley as viewed from the high elevation at highway 74
Dry flowers near the trail
Beautiful dry grass flowers
Birdhouse at the tree
Tall pines around Ramona trail
Pine forest surrounding the Ramona Hike
Hiking trail leading into mountains
The Ramona hike near lake Hemet
Light green grass at the hiking trail
Wild grass with dry flowers at Ramona hiking trail
Blue Wildflowers
Blue wildflowers
Tall grass branch
Tall grass near Ramona trail
Birdhouse at Ramona trail
Birdhouse nailed to the large pine tree
Logs marking parking lot of Ramona trail
Ramona trail parking lot
Bright blue pinyon jay in flight
Bright blue pinyon jay in flight
Curious pinyon jay wild bird
Pinyon jay peeking through the branches
Wild birds at Hurkey Creek Park
Two pinyon jays in the bush
Wild blue bird - Pinyon Jay sitting on the pine
Blue Pinyon Jay wild bird perched on the pine branch
Hurkey Creek Park and mountains in the background
View from Hurkey Creek Park
Flock of geese feeding near the water
A flock of geese feeding near the water
Two geese near the lake Hemet
Boat at Lake Hemet and couple of geese
Pine cones close-up view
Pines near the lake
Shores of lake Hemet
Lake Hemet and surrounding hills

   29.03.2024  by FPImages


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