Numerous visitors flocked to the Santa Rosa Plateau’s vernal pools near Murrieta after a string of several storms filled the pools up, but they’re hardly the only Inland hiking destination transformed by seasonal rains.
From waterfalls to green spots, there are several places throughout the Inland region that are worth visiting after heavy rains move through the area.
UC Riverside Botanic Gardens
What: Sprawling green hillsides, themed gardens and variety of healthy plant life greet those making their way through UC Riverside’s gardens, home to thousands of plants from around the world.
Changes: Theresa McLemore, the manager of the gardens, said the rainfall has encouraged the growth of lush green weeds on nearby hillsides. Those hillsides are the most verdant they’ve been in roughly 11 years, she said. Plus, a wide variety of plant life throughout the garden — especially native plants — have perked up as a result of all the rain. Occasional breaks of sunshine have given rainwater the chance to really soak in and really help the plants, she said.
Where: The gardens are located at 1 Botanic Gardens Drive in Riverside. They are open from 8 a.m.- 5 p.m., seven days a week. A $5 contribution per visitor is suggested. Parking is $1 for 2 hours.
Quote: “The timing on it has been perfect,” said McLemore. “We’ll get a rain one day, and the next day it will sunny up, and the next day it will rain again.”
What: The Big Falls are less than a mile hike from the trail head. There is a viewing area, but visitors are not allowed past that blocked off area. There is also a picnic area.
Changes: The falls flows all year, but they’re especially a sight to see after a heavy rainfall, said Gerrelaine Alcordo, a San Bernardino National Forest spokeswoman. Alcordo recommends dressing in layers in case it’s cold and for visitors to keep tire chains in their trunks.
Where: The trailhead to the cascade can be reached by turning east off Highway 38 to Valley of the Falls Road in Forest Falls. Follow the road to its end. The trail begins just past the first parking lot to the left. Those parking within the park will need a $5 Adventure Pass. More information can be found on the San Bernardino National Forest’s website.
Quote: “It’s a waterfall surrounded by the scenery of snow because you can see the mountaintops which have snow on them,” she said. “… It’s just this really majestic look.”
What: Just past the Santa Rosa Plateau, in the Cleveland National Forest, sits Tenaja Falls.
Changes: During rainy winter months, the 15-foot waterfall descends into a pool that’s just large enough for people to go swimming in. The falls are the biggest in the Cleveland National Forest’s San Mateo wilderness area, said Debra Clarke, a wilderness and trails manager and district volunteer. During the hike, people will likely be able to enjoy a wide-variety of wildflowers such as Indian paintbrush and lilac that have sprung to life because of the recent rains.
Where: Visitors can follow Clinton Keith Road west from Interstate 15, then turn onto Tenaja Road. Eventually, drivers turn right onto Cleveland Forest Road. The waterfall is only about .7 miles from the start of the trailhead. Parking near the waterfall requires a $5 Adventure Pass.
Quote: You can hike on these trails every two weeks and you’ll see different flowers,” said Clarke. “It’s just incredible.”
San Jacinto Wildlife Area
What: Nestled between Perris and San Jacinto, the San Jacinto Wildlife Area is a 19,000-acre park with 9,000 acres of restored wetlands.
Changes: The area normally attracts people because of the wide-variety of waterfowl that make their way to the wetlands, but people who go there will also be delighted by now green hillsides, said Tom Trakes, a state Fish and Wildlife habitat supervisor. In the coming weeks there will be a wide variety of flowers in the Wildlife Area, from poppies to lupines.
Where: Take Interstate 215 to Ramona Expressway, head east to Davis Road. The check in station is on Davis Road about 2.75 miles north of Ramona Expressway. Recent rains have made Davis Road difficult to pass. There is currently no cost to enter the park.
Quote: “It’s just this beautiful green right now, with water all around us,” Trakes said.
Heart Rock Falls
What: Heart Rock Falls near Crestline features a large heart-shaped hole located next to a 20-foot waterfall. The hike to the cascade is short — about a mile round trip, according to Alcordo. However, hikers will have to cross a stream to get there.
Changes: The waterfall that gets its name from a nearby distinctive rock structure is far more impressive after rains. The San Bernardino National Forest says the gentle grade of the trail makes it a great hike for all ages, but recommends that parents with young children keep an eye on them, especially near the waterfall.
Where: A trail leading to the waterfall begins about a quarter of a mile south from the entrance to Camp Seeley off Highway 138, according to the San Bernardino National Forest Service. An Adventure Pass is not needed.
Quote: “When you walk in it’s just surrounded by really beautiful trees and then you’ll see the waterfall,” said Alcordo.
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