Are you still looking for spring break plans? Or do you just need to get out of the Claremont bubble for a bit? The Forum is here to help you out with an official guide to a variety of off-campus destinations both near and far. Whether you want to soak up the sun or do something a little more strenuous, California has you covered.
Though you’ve seen it in movies and the postcards your mom bought you after you were accepted to CMC, the California coast is truly worth experiencing in person.
The various beaches of Los Angeles County all have something different to offer, and luckily you can explore them all rather conveniently. One easy option is The Strand, a bike path that runs from Will Rogers State Beach (just north of Santa Monica) all the way down to Torrance County for a total of 22 miles one way. Along the way, you’ll pass under the Santa Monica Pier along Venice Beach and under the planes taking off and landing at LAX. When you’re done, catch the sunset at one of the piers or head into Santa Monica for some incredible food.
If you’re looking to take a day (or two) to hang out on the beach but want to avoid the crowds, head up to Leo Carrillo State Park just north of Malibu. The beaches and sunsets are incredible; instead of conglomerating into one big beach, the shoreline is broken up into a ton of tiny ones accessible through individual staircases. In effect, you get your own private beach—even more, there is a network of caves to explore. The campground is also just a short walk from the beach. It’s always clean, and the rangers are friendly, making this an ideal spot for an overnight trip.
Baldy/Claremont Wilderness Park/Potato Mountain
Some days you experience a tough day and find yourself in dire need of an escape. Other days, it’s the weekend and you’ve got a couple hours between brunch and that rager your friend is throwing, and you need somewhere close to get away. Whatever the case may be, you’re in luck because we’ve got four great spots within 20 minutes of campus for just the getaway you need.
The Claremont Wilderness Park is a short jog up Mills Avenue if you’re feeling particularly athletic. The basic loop is about five miles long but moderately difficult. If you’ve got some time, bring some homework; the pagoda at the top of the trail is the perfect spot to catch up on that PPE reading you’ve been putting off all week.
If you’re looking to catch the sunset and get your exercise in at the same time, grab a group of friends and hike Potato Mountain. The trailhead starts about halfway up the drive to Baldy, and if you move at a moderate pace you should make it to the top in around 45 minutes. If you time it right, you can catch the skyline of LA illuminated by the setting sun.
You don’t necessarily have to hike to catch an incredible sunset, though—the Glendora Ridge overlook, a left turn up a windy road in Baldy Village, is essentially your “one-stop shop” for sunset profile pictures and romantic sunset dates. You’ve seen your friends’—and all the Admissions Department’s—Instagram posts, so what are you waiting for? Head up there and see the beauty for yourself.
Joshua Tree/Mojave National Preserve/Kelso Dunes
What would California be without the desert? If you want to find yourself surrounded by stunning sandy landscapes, watch some incredible stars, or just get away from it all, simply drive about an hour and a half east and you’ll find yourself in either Joshua Tree National Park or the Mojave National Preserve.
Joshua Tree is regarded as a magical place by many at the 5Cs, and for good reason. The park’s namesake trees and rock formations come together to form an almost otherworldly landscape. There are plenty of places to camp, which should satisfy everyone from the first-timer to the more experienced outdoors person. If you’re new to camping, check out Jumbo Rocks, one of the most popular campgrounds in the park. Using it as a base, you can hike the Skull Rock trail or spend your afternoon scrabbling around on the rocks just behind your campsite. If you’re feeling more adventurous, park in the Boy Scout Trail lot and then hike your gear a half mile or so, then go off trail and find your own campsite. When you fall asleep under the Joshua Tree stars it’ll be just you, your companions, and the desert.
If your version of a desert isn’t complete without sand, take a day trip out to the Kelso Dunes. The drive is about 2.5 hours, but at the end of it, you’re greeted with some incredible dunes that provide the perfect opportunity to try out sand-boarding or sand-sledding. You’ll get a workout climbing the dunes and you will inevitably wind up finding sand in all of your belongings for at least the next month.
While camping isn’t allowed in the Kelso Dunes themselves, you can head down the road within the Mojave National Preserve to some incredible off-map campsites. Make your way to Granite Pass on Kelbaker Road where you’ll find a tiny turn-off that should be labeled 4×4’s only, though I made it work with a Prius (it did come back with some scratches and I bottomed out…twice). If you do have a vehicle that can make it down the rocky road, there are about five campsites that could each host a group of up to 15 people. With Granite Peak at your back, these sites offer a great balance of remoteness and ease of access.