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A Forest Path That Will Steal Your Heart

John McKinney is the author of "Day Hiker's Guide to California's State Parks" (Olympus Press, $14.95)

Tucked away in a forested bowl a couple of miles from Crestline, Heart Rock is surely the most romantic site in the San Bernardino Mountains.

When I first learned of Heart Rock, I figured it was some granite outcropping that vaguely resembled a heart. Certainly the local mountains are full of rocks that faintly resemble birds, bees or bears. To my surprise, I discovered that Heart Rock is not a heart-shaped rock but a flat-topped boulder on which the natural elements have sculpted a classically contoured heart, about 5 feet wide and 2 1/2 feet deep. Seeley Creek Falls tumbles by just to the right of the rock.

Ordinarily, a lovely 25-foot cascade like Seeley Falls is a compelling, even romantic, destination all by itself; however, in this instance, Heart Rock steals the falls’ thunder. When the creek is fully flowing, water runs into the top of the heart, then spills from the bottom in a cascade, a scene guaranteed to capture a hiker’s heart.

Seeley Flat and the creek are named for Mormon immigrant brothers David and Wellington Seeley, who built the area’s first sawmill in 1853.

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Directions to trail head: From San Bernardino, follow California 18 about 12.5 miles into the mountains to a junction with California 138. Turn north on California 138 and wind past Crestline and the Valley of Enchantment community. About 2.5 miles from the 18/138 junction, look on the left (west) side of the highway for the entrance to Camp Seeley.

Don’t enter the camp, but fork left and take Forest Road 2N03, which soon crosses Seeley Creek. Look for the start of the unsigned trail and roadside parking on the right.

The hike: The first 0.2 mile of trail is less than heart-stirring. Hike past a couple of signs marking an underground sewer line, then walk past sometimes noisy Camp Seeley. Once you’re past the camp boundary, tranquillity reigns. The footpath meanders among Jeffrey pine and cedar.

After a mile, near trail’s end, the path forks. The right fork’s granite steps bring you to an overlook above Seeley Creek Falls and Heart Rock. Savor the view, then take the trail’s other fork down-creek from the falls to a handsome grouping of pools and cascades.

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Seeley Creek Trail

Where: Near Crestline, San Bernardino National Forest

Distance: To Heart Rock and Seeley Creek Falls is 2 miles round trip with 200 foot elevation gain.

Terrain: Pine- and cedar-forested bowl.

Highlights: Heart of stone, waterfall.

Degree of difficulty: Easy.

Precautions: Slippery rocks near falls.

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For more information: San Bernardino National Forest, Arrowehead Ranger District, 28104 Highway 18, Skyforest, CA 92378; tel. (909) 337-2444.


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