Are you looking for something fun to do? Is COVID giving you the blues since life still hasn’t returned to “normal”? Have you ever thought about hiking but didn’t know exactly where to go?
Look no further, there are plenty of fun hiking spots and trails within an hour of Victor Valley College! I got the chance to speak with an experienced hiker and former VVC student, Jennifer Downard, on her hiking advice and personal experiences on some of these trails.
To start off I wanted to know how long Downard had been into hiking and what exactly got her into it.
“I have been into hiking regularly for about 6-7 years now,” said Downard. “The first time I hiked was at the JPL trail in Wrightwood with my future mother-in-law and sister-in-law, and they inspired me to get outside and just go!”
One of my personal favorite hiking spots, and number one on our list, is Devil’s Punchbowl. This hike is located in Valyermo, CA, which is almost exactly one hour away from VVC. If you’ve ever driven out to Palmdale or Lancaster, you’ve passed the road that leads to this beautiful, breathtaking hiking.
Not only is this hike good for beginners, but it also features a more complicated, longer hike for those that are up to the challenge. Along with a few different trails to explore, there’s also a small museum and nature center featuring owls, reptiles of all kinds, and even bees. Be sure to bring lots of water, sun block, and possibly a snack with you for this hike.
“My favorite part about hiking the Devil’s Punchbowl is the high elevation mountains to breathe the fresh air, the vegetation and the birds,” said Downard. “I’d say the level of difficulty on the longer hike is 8 [out of 10].”
The next hiking spot I would recommend you check out is Big Horn Mine Trail. This hike is located just past Wrightwood near Azusa and Valyermo, a little under an hour from VVC. This is an easier hike but does have some small hills, and depending on the time of year, can be covered in snow.
The coolest part about this hike is that it leads to an old, abandoned mine. While I can’t suggest you go into the mine and check it out due to safety concerns, if you’re brave enough to go inside, it’s pretty cool to see. Make sure to bring flashlights, water, and sunblock of course.
The last hiking spot you should definitely check out is Inspiration Point and Grassy Hollow. This hike has plenty of beautiful mountain scenery that can make for some amazing pictures. This spot is located at the top of one of the mountains in Wrightwood, near Valyermo, about fifty minutes from VVC. This is another moderately easy hike, but it is a more popular hike, so be prepared to run across fellow hikers when you come to enjoy the views and trails this place has to offer. Once again bring water and sunblock with you!
“My favorite part about Inspiration Point and Grassy Hollow is definitely the pine trees and woody smell and the vast views of the desert,” said Downard. “I’d say it’s a level 6 difficulty.”
Hiking can definitely seem intimidating at first, so I wanted to know what kind of advice Downard had for someone new to hiking. “For someone new I would tell them to go at your own pace and take all of your surroundings in,” she said.
It’s also important to know what you’ll need or want to bring with you when you start hiking. I asked Downard what she thought was essential to bring with you. “My essentials are good, supportive shoes, a hat, plenty of water, and a camera/phone to capture a pic of whatever you find eye catching,” she said.
Hiking isn’t something that everybody loves to do, but for some it’s a passion. It’s an excellent way to get in some exercise while taking in fresh air and maybe even seeing some sights you haven’t seen before. Go by yourself to enjoy some quiet time or take a group of friends with you when you go. You never know, you may be climbing mountains in no time.