Looking for a fun and educational adventure above the heat of the valley? Heaps Peak Arboretum on Highway 18, west of Crestline, offers visitors a chance to explore the outdoors and take a closer look at trees, plants, and flowers.
The 30-acre site in the San Bernardino Mountains, taken care of by volunteers, opened 37 years ago, and has been welcoming visitors ever since. More than 50,000 people visit each year, according to the Heaps Peak Arboretum website.
The mountains are home to many animals, and you certainly can see the footprints of wildlife found in the area. Take the footprint trail around the Meadow Garden and you can see prints of bobcats, deer, bears, birds, snakes, and other wildlife.
You don’t have to travel to Sequoia National Park to see sequoia trees. Heaps Peak is home to sequoias that are smaller compared to the world’s largest tree by volume, General Sherman, standing 275 feet tall and 36 feet in diameter at the national park. But still, Ann Henck Stewart Memorial Sequoia Grove, planted in the 1930s, is the largest grove of giant sequoias in the San Bernardino Mountains, according to the Arboretum’s website.
Another path to explore — Sequoia Trail — stretches nearly a mile, with views of many trees, including Arizona cypress, black oak, coulter pine, white fir, sugar pine, quaking aspen, and giant sequoia.
Ron’s Garden, dedicated to Ron Esposito, a former volunteer, is a wildflower garden with bee and butterfly-friendly plants and flowers. The bright hues of the bee balm and other flowers greet visitors. Volunteers call the Matilija poppy the “fried egg” flower for its bright white petals and yellow center when in full bloom.
There are no fees to hike Heaps Peak Arboretum, but donations are welcome, however a valid wilderness parking pass is needed to park. A daily pass, sold at the volunteer hut, is $5.