Posted by: Brendan | July 5, 2010


This one’s been on the tick list for a long time.

When the time came to head West some five years ago, this was one of maybe only three trails on the USFS website designated for mountain bike use. I studied the maps and counted the contour lines, pondering singletrack bliss, and arrived wide-eyed and ready for mountain biking on real mountains.

When I asked about the Webster Trail, most locals responded with something along the lines of “Why would you want to ride that trail?! It’s full of poison oak and the only way out is a long and arduous hike-a-bike. Awful!

I heeded that warning for all this time, until last weekend.
Dave agreed to join me in the adventure.

We met at the trailhead, between Idyllwild and Pine Cove on the main control road. The sign at the trailhead warned about the Poison Oak.

Ironically, we had some trouble finding the trail beyond the sign. There had been a lot of bulldozer work in the area in the recent fuels reduction project, and the first 1/4 mile of trail has been obliterated. Fortunately, we found our way and were soon underway on nice, canopied singletrack.

The trail started out steep, then got a bit steeper.
The chaparral greeted us with big views of the valley below.
Then it got really steep.

The final section of trail was a series of ruts, with some fun rock moves thrown in. We got lower… and lower. I stopped for a moment at a particularly heinous switchback and noticed the sound of water flowing.
This was what we were after; the real reason to ride Webster Trail:

Not just a swimming hole; lots of them. Deep swimming holes. Slides. Wide, shady spots. Trout swimming, birds singing. Paradise.

We explored up the canyon a ways and spent a good while chilling off in the pools. Thankfully, we had the forethought to bring a couple canned beers and let nature’s refrigerator work its magic.

The hike out
There are two ways out of the creek: back up the (steep) trail, or down canyon a ways to a (steep) hike-a-bike. We decided on latter and embarked on a barefoot waterborne hike-a-bike in the water rather than on the banks, which were choked thick with poison oak in many places.
I had a camera mishap near our chillout spot which resulted in the need to pull the camera battery and allow everything to dry. So the pics from this point forward were from the phone camera.

We used our bikes to stabilize ourselves over slippery rocks. My bike was submerged up the handlebars more times than I can count.

We found the hike-a-bike out, then convinced ourselves that we *couldn’t* be at the right place; because it surely couldn’t be this steep, this heinous, etc. After some hmming & hawwing, we decided to give it a solid go. We went up, and up. Note the creek well below us here, just as we reached the control road up to Idyllwild.

In retrospect, it was a really fun hike with a mountain bike descent.



  1. Nice water crossings. Can almost hear the trickling sound through the blackberry.

  2. Congrats on what sounds like a fun adventure!

    Next time you’re on slippery rock-under-water — leave your socks on. Amazing traction!

  3. Cap’n, those were more than water crossings- it was how we spent an hour getting down “the trail” rather than moving along the banks with the poison oak.

    Socks, good idea. I ended up putting my shoes on, and a pair of gaiters after a while.

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