Do consider going to Idyllwild if all you want is to escape from the city, go to a low-key place and hike. Its almost 2 hours drive east from Los Angeles. We stayed here for the weekend and this one was our closing hike.
In December 2012, during my visit to India, mom and I hiked inside the Periyar forest in Thekkady, famous for its wild-life especially tigers and elephants.
The guide mentioned that bears were the most dangerous since they tend to charge at you as part of their defense mechanism; whereas elephants and tigers keep distance. Well (un)fortunately we only spotted bisons, tiger scratch marks and elephant poop. And I am not kidding, that was fun too!
Day 2 was a trek+bamboo-rafting group adventure deeper into the forest with some forest guides and a gunman.
I finally got to see the beautiful Periyar lake – a man-made lake with a dam, built during the British colonial rule.
And yay! We spotted an elephant :)
Tigers are the most difficult animal to spot within the forest. There are cameras inside to track them and the estimated number as of now is around 45. Well, we did manage to see their footprints.
Finally, I found the spirit of the forest-rangers, naturalists, locals very touching and inspiring. Over the years they have overcome the problem of poaching and now they actively take part in it’s conservation.