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Johnson Meadow Trail Hurkey Creek near Idyllwild CA

The Idyllwild Trails in California did their best to keep me away. I had first planned to come here about 5 weeks ago, and on the actual day I left Los Angeles to head to Idyllwild 4 feet of snow was dropped, and I got a phone call from a ranger saying that I would need chains to get to Idyllwild.. I put everything on hold, and headed South instead.

When I did finally make it to Idyllwild,  both my bikes were in dire need of a bike doctor, luckily for me The Hub Cyclery in Iydllewild did a fantastic job on ordering me some parts and getting me back on the trails..

So, was all this worth the wait?, or was I better off going elsewhere?

Hurkey Creek Trail

Trail Stats & Information


Nearby Town : Idyllwild
Length: 7.3 miles
Trail Type: Loop
Skill Level: [what the books say] no info
Skill Level: [My Opinion] Technically easy. Physically  easy to modarate.
: My time was 01:37:28
Elev Gain
: 892 feet
Top Elev : 5,064  feet
Min. Elev : 4,393 feet


Book Description

I could not find any Mtb Trail books describing the Hurkey Creek Trails, so the below descriptions are based on my personal experience :
>> The Hurkey Creek Trails just a few miles from Idyllwild offer some fantastic and scenic trails. Some of the trails are pretty popular, and are used in the  24 Hour Race held in the Spring. Trails such as Johnson Meadow, Exfoliator, Rage through the Sage and Tunnel of Love are some of the must do rides in this area.

My Experience

Lucky for me there is the Internet, Google and some very good Mtb Forums, ‘cos if I had to get my trail info from books and maps, I would probably still be looking. The good thing was however, wherever I looked, or whoever I asked the answer was always the same.. Do the Exfoliator, Rage through the Sage and Tunnel of Love.
The above was the easy part, finding a trail map of these trails was not as simple. I did get a map from the Hurkey Creek Campground, and some advice about the trails, but to be honest, both meant very little once on the trail.
None of the trails are marked, and the map I had was a bad copy taken from Google Earth. It did not take me long to go wrong… 40 seconds to be exact. For any future non local riders who plan to ride this trail, as soon as you go through the gate at the very start of the trail, take the FIRST singletrack that takes a sharp left.. DO NOT stay on the main trail like I did for a whole mile!!.
Anyway once on the proper trail, a sweet singletrack takes you on a gradual climb to Keen Camp Summit. Once at the summit, you can prepare yourself for a fantastic fast flowing singletrack that takes you to the really nice Johnson Meadow. Here the trail bottoms out, and continues through this meadow for about 1.5 miles, I saw plenty of deer along this section. At the end of Johnsons Meadow, you start another  easy and graduate climb, that takes you to the large Oak Tree. Here at the large oak, you follow the trail on the right.. Congratulations, you have mage it to the Exfoliator. I have not got a clue what Exfoliator means, but let me tell you this, The Exfoliator is gonna put a smile on your chops that will last a long time. This is one hell of a short but sweet experience. FAST!!, just find your line and open up. The thrill is short lived, but it will last a lifetime..
So, I launced myself down the Exfoliator, and was ready to do the same on the Rage through the Sage and Tunnel of Love..
Well, things did not turn out that way, and I somehow completely missed the turn I should have made, so on this ride I never got to Rage through the Sage or the Tunnel of Love.. But, stick around, ‘cos 2 days later I did do these trails and a lot more.


The riding on these trails is fantastic, high elevation but without the serious uphill climbs. The trails are fast flowing and fun.
Some of these trails can and are very confusing for the first time riders in this area, they are not marked at all, and there are sometimes more than one to choose from. You are not gonna get lost on these trails, but just like myself, your planned route might turn out different than you had planned. But hey, worst case you just bomb down the Exfoliator 3 or 4 times.. Now that would be sweet!


Other Info:

Traffic on Trail : I had all the trails to myself, I did not see anyone. 
Wild Life : A few dear along the Johnson Meadow section 
Scenery : Great scenery
Getting There : Click HERE for directions from Idyllwild
Other : Take sun lotion and plenty of bug spray, the horse flies are terrible


My Trail Rating : 7 / 10


The Hub Cyclery IdyllwildThe Hurkey Creek Trails review is proudly sponsored by :

The Hub Cyclery Idyllwild.

Don’t even consider riding the Hurkey Creek Trails before paying a visit to The Hub Cyclery.  This is not your average Cycle Shop, the owners themselves are not just avid mountain bikers, they also build the popular Siren Mountain Bikes. The Hub Cyclery is well stocked with everything you and your bike will need on the trails, and a lot more.  When you buy a Trails Map at The Hub, it comes with some free  and  unmissable  advice and recommendations.

For more info please visit : www.hubcyclery.com


Unlike the standard GoPro that recorded in .wma, the GoPro HD are encoded in mpeg4 h.264 format. Now although this format has been around for quite some time, a lot of video editors will not import the MP4 format.
Like many others I was unpleasantly surprised by this, and I did not have a clue where to start, so in all cases like this, I got my help from Google.
What I did know, is what I did NOT want.

  1. To spend a lot of money on a professional video editor
  2. A massive resource hog running on my computer
  3. To have to spend 6 years of intensive training to be able to use the editor.

My first break came when I stumbled on the excellent and very helpful Highball Blog and especially the posts about the GoPro HD.

Kudos to Constantin for the excellent very well detailed posts on his site… have a look for yourself www.highballblog.com you’ll be sure to learn something.

After a lot of further research and a lot of trials and errors I have come up with the following method to edit my GoPro HD videos, and the best of all, it is 100% FREE and very Easy.

Now I am not saying that the way I do it is ideal, or better than any other way, all I’m saying is that it gets the job done and it’s free and it’s easy.

Here are the steps and programs I use :

GoPro MP4 convert chart


Step 1 : Converting to Avi

Convert the GoPro HD MP4 to .AVI files using the excellent Free MPEG Streamclip, download at www.squared5.com [ remember Quicktime is needed to run MPEG Streamclip]


mpeg streamclip


MPEG Streamclip

Convert to .AVI


MPEG Streanclip

Experiment with these settings


Mpeg Streamclip

Streamclip is now Converting the file to .avi



Step 2 : Editing the .Avi Video with Windows Movie Maker

Now your video has been converted to .avi, you can add it to Windows Movie Maker to add some titles, comments and credits.



Windows Movie Maker

Create a movie with your now .avi videos


windows movie maker

Publish movie to your computer


windows movie maker

Publish your movie


Step 3 : Convert back to MP4

Now that your video has been published, you will notice how sharp it looks, however you will also notice the huge size it has become. To be able to publish this video online, we will have to reduce the size, we can do this without losing noticeable quality by converting the video back to MP4 format.

There are probably tons of programs that do this, but I found that the Leawo MP4 Converter did an excellent job, and is lightweight, very easy to use, fast and stable, in fact I was so impressed by the Free version I actually upgraded it, costing me a whopping $19,- giving me a few handy extras.. But the Free version does the job nicely



Open up Leawo to convert the avi to MP4



Add video and Edit your prefered settings


I do not add audio to my videos (yet), I use the Audio Swap option at YouTube, so I set my “Video Quality” to High, and my Audio quality to Low.



extra editing options available with the Leawo MP4 Converter Pro $19.95


That’s it, very easy and very cheap, and the end result looks like this


Buy GoPro HERO Camera at GoPro.com


FREE Software downloads:

Giant Trance X4 HDR

This year I have started shooting HDR images on the trails, personally I am really intrigued by this method, and I actually like the outcome of the photo’s.
For everyone that has never heard of HDR photography, just google it for plenty of info, but in short it means the following..

In image processing, computer graphics, and photography, high dynamic range imaging (HDRI or just HDR) is a set of techniques that allow a greater dynamic range of luminances between the lightest and darkest areas of an image than standard digital imaging techniques or photographic methods. This wider dynamic range allows HDR images to more accurately represent the wide range of intensity levels found in real scenes, ranging from direct sunlight to faint starlight.[1]

The two main sources of HDR imagery are computer renderings and merging of multiple photographs, which in turn are known as low dynamic range (LDR)[2] (also called standard dynamic range (SDR)[3]) photographs.

Tone mapping techniques, which reduce overall contrast to facilitate display of HDR images on devices with lower dynamic range, can be applied to produce images with preserved or exaggerated local contrast for artistic effect.

I am still new to this technique and am still learning the hard way, but at least I am having fun doing it..

For lots more Mountain Biking in HDR take a look at my MTB HDR Gallery : www.mtb-trails.com  and also my MTB HDR Flickr account : www.flickr.com/photos/rip3d/   ALL photos taken by me on the trails I ride.