Hiked Saturday, October 3. 7 miles. The distance on this one is a little iffy, since the Tom Harrison map gives the distance as 3.7 miles each way, but the ranger at the visitor center called it "about three miles." I'm assuming the person on the ground is more knowledgeable, since he's talking right off the map, yet giving a different number.
This was not where I planned to walk that morning, but it turns out that the Aspen Grove
was burned in the Lake Fire last year, and the area is part of a huge closure order that stands until at least next summer.
This may actually prove good for the aspen grove, since conifers encroach upon its footprint. Depending on how the larger conifers weathered the fire, occasional clearing fires like this will let the aspen expand, or, at least, stop losing habitat to conifers.
Aspen actually do better after fires (unless the temperatures are too high), and recover quickly. They're a transitional species that needs those occasional disturbances (fires, avalanches, etc) to do well.
In any event, the ranger at the visitor center suggested several options, and this one sounded pretty good.
The Forsee Creek Trailhead is located off of West Jenks Lake Road. From CA-38, if coming from Redlands, it's just about six miles past Angelus Oaks. Jenks Lake Road is on your right. Almost as soon as you get on Jenks Lake Road, the dirt road to Forsee Creek trailhead is on your right. About 1/2 mile on a rough, rocky, but (on this day) passable dirt road ends at the trailhead.
The trail leaves from the far end of the lot, and head straight for about 1/8 mile. Normally, there'd be a fork. But, with the large forest closure order in effect, the trail to your left (the actual Forsee Creek Trail, to Jackstraw Springs) is taped close.
"Your" trail goes west and west-southwest, along the northfacing side of the mountains. From there, you gain altitude and have nice views into the Santa Ana River drainage. Mount San Gorgonio is to your east-northeast. Slide Peak and Keller Peak, each in the high-7,000, are to your west-northwest.
After many ups and downs, there's eventually a modest climb over a saddle, followed by a descent to Forsee Creek. It was a fair gurgle, but wouldn't be mistaken for a river, at least in early October.
After crossing the creek, there's a slight rise, to "Johns Meadow." It actually looked nothing like a meadow, to me. There were plenty of trees, and no rolling carpet of grass.
Having not been sure if I was there, I continued a bit. The trail crossed a second little creek shortly, then climbed, first slowly, then steeply, towards the San Bernadino Mountains ridge. Once assured that Johns Meadow was not ahead of me, I returned the way I came.
Because I went past the actual meadow (and also backtracked some when I thought I left my phone on the ground, I figure I covered well over six miles, so I'm calling it seven miles, though it might only be 6 1/2. Pleasant, shaded, cool. Nice hike, but no aspen.
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