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Idyllwild and the Cahuilla

The view of Tahquitz Peak as you stand in the little dot on the map of Idyllwild is majestic. If you had it towering over your rooftops for enough years, wouldn’t you create a legend about it?

As the next Loveda Brown book prepares to launch, I want to share my historical wanderings in Idyllwild last month. There are always more fun facts about my materials than will ever work into each of my mysteries! Loveda Brown: Summer Storm highlights the legend of Tahquitz and the Cahuilla peoples who migrated through the San Jacinto mountain range and left the name of their shaman chief behind.

We will address the legend another time, but if you take a drive up and spend a day in Idyllwild, these places are on the “must see” list.

Our first stop is in the Idyllwild County Park. You won’t get charged for parking if you’re only driving in to see the pictographs/hieroglyphs painted hundreds of years ago on granite boulders. It’s fenced in and the gate is welded shut, and—I have to think my guess is as good as anyone’s—all the ancient symbols I looked at remind me of maps.

The second location for Cahuilla pictographs is north from here, in Pine Cove. I put the directions in my phone and followed them precisely, but I circled back and forth on a tiny residential road while my phone insisted I had arrived at my destination. In frustration, I pulled over and asked the phone why it was making up lies and it said, “GPS Location Service Lost”.

I looked around. No signs. No other vehicles parked at random. I got out of the car to stretch and if I hadn’t stepped across the road to look at the view, I would have gone home disappointed. The secret entrance to the pictographs is well hidden and not tailored for visitors. This is an ancient tucked-away haven that was worth searching for.

For a terrific tale of the Tahquitz legend and great current photos, check this out.

Until next time, happy reading!

Published inTraveling


  1. Mark Ishman

    Thanks Jolie!
    I remember climbing Tahquitz Peak when I was 13 or 14. My mom (LaVonne) and others from Bible School hid a soda and candy bar in plastic bags in the little stream about halfway up. On the way down we stopped and retrieved them and had a nice cool snack before making back to the cars! I’d love to see it again but don’t know if my knees would agree!
    Mark Ishman

    • That is a hike worth taking seriously. No shade for the second half at all. In July, we tend to hike it at 4am for this reason. My next book has the legend of Tahquitz throughout as part of the storyline and explains the reasons the terrain is the way it is. The Cahuilla probably wished for a soda, too! ;~)

  2. Sylvia Duke

    Hi Jolie,
    You are probably aware of the large grinding stone located at San Juan Capistrano Mission called “Gossip Rock” … but if you are not, now you are, and you might want to visit it.

    • I should! I recently finished reading a fascinating book, “San Pasqual, A Crack in the Hills” by Mary Rockwood Peet. She tells of a large granite boulder called the “Ringing Rock” that pealed out like a struck anvil when hit with a rock or metal rod. Said to summon the east wind, this rock’s location is now unknown but the description matches the western end of Lake Hodges. I’d like to hunt it down someday.

  3. carol

    I am ready to go. really interesting sites. Worth a trip to Idyllwild. I wonder what we have around here.

    • Did you know Wyatt Earp once ran a casino and a color-coded brothel in San Diego? After 1911, he lived in Vidal, summering in Los Angeles, and rumor says he used to hop a stagecoach for Idyllwild in the summer and gamble up top. Who knew…Loveda Brown?

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