The Walk - This is The Start
Not too long thereafter, we came to a large limb planted in the ground, with a faint path to the right, and a clearer one towards the left. The limb may not always be there, but again, it is obvious enough which way to go. This happened to be where we re-joined the main trail on our return trip down the river, so it is worth noting.
A quarter mile or so past the bridge, you will come to the signed junction with the Pacific Crest Trail. To the left is the southward stretch of the PCT to Mexico, and the 3.5 mile loop of Canyon View Trail. To the right, is the northbound trail you can take all the way to Yosemite or Canada–or roughly another mile or so to red dome, which was our choice today.
As cool as it was to be hiking along “the” Pacific Crest Trail, this section was really the most boring part of the hike. There were no water crossings (on this day, at least) and it was largely desert scrub vegetation. After about a mile, you’ll see a reddish point on a ridge approaching the trail on the left, and a red rock towards the right in the river bed. When you hit the red rock point, you will actually find yourself passing between the point on the left, a red volcanic rock on the right, and the river directly in front of you.
This smaller red rock on the side of the trail doesn’t appear to be “the” red dome, but it makes a nice rest area next to the river. You might think this is red dome, but as far as I can tell from our map, the actual red dome is about 50 yards down river to the right. On this day, there was a series of logs across the river for crossing on your way to Yosemite, but again, there is no guarantee, because of the great potential for flooding through here. This crossing by the rock and on the river makes for a really nice place to snack or lunch or just rest and even read before heading back.
I prefer loop hikes to out-and-back trips, and prefer riverside hikes to dry hikes, so we decided that rather than just walking back on the same trail from whence we came, we would return along the river instead, picking our way along the sandy, boulder strewn banks. This was a much more entertaining way to return, and we enjoyed the choose-your-own-adventure nature of our trek. The river was beautiful, and lived up to its Whitewater name, as it cascaded loudly and frothy over the rocks all the way downstream. Even when a path we chose seemed to dead-end or become impassable, rarely did it take us more than a few seconds to find a new route, and never more than 50 feet or so from the river.
This is about as rough as the non-trail got. And we probably could have picked an easier path here, but chose to hug the river rather than move even 50 feet away. View towards the visitor’s center from the parking lot. Apparently a bighorn sheep was spotted on the rock wall above the center not long before we got there, but we didn’t see it. Can you? We’ve heard that the Canyon View Loop Trail is great for wildflowers in the spring, but we fear that the lack of rain this year is going to spoil the bloom. It does have great views of Mount San Jacinto, though, which we have hiked previously, so we may return this year even if there aren’t any flowers to see.
Both of us loved the desert beauty of this hike, and the bubbling river, and highly recommend this hike. But definitely check the weather first. It can be deadly hot in the summer and on unseasonably warm spring and fall days, and it is frequently very windy. On this day, winds were consistently present, and while the average may have only been 10-15 mph (as the weather forecast suggested), the ranger said there were gusts up to 40 mph, so if the weather reports high winds in the area–believe it!!! Furthermore, if you look at the pictures of the river bed, it can get VERY wide and high during flash floods, so be wary if rain is predicted in the mountains and check in with the rangers before you go whenever possible.