ABOUT GARNER VALLEY
Situated between two mountain ranges and surrounded by unsullied countryside, Garner Valley is host to a myriad of flora and fauna and scenic mountain vistas. At one end of the valley is Lake Hemet, one of the most beautiful man-made lakes in Southern California. At the other end the pine trees give way to the manzanita and red shank of the high desert. This is a place where one goes to experience Mother Nature at her best. It offers a quiet getaway from the noisy, fast-paced life of the city. Trails for day hikes are abundant as are overnight campouts in the breathtaking San Jacinto Mountains. The Pacific Crest Trail meanders through the valley and beyond for the even more adventurous hiker. Many of the locals, however, prefer to view the backcountry from a saddle. Garner Valley, after all, is all about the equestrian lifestyle. Where else in Southern California can you own a five or ten acre rancho nestled among the ponderosa pines? Lying at an elevation of roughly 4500 feet, the valley is situated just above the high desert where the conifers grow tall and the manzanita bloom every spring.
The wildlife loves it here too. They include mountain lions, big horn sheep, bobcats, mule deer, the ubiquitous coyote, tree squirrels, ground squirrels, rabbits and rattlesnakes. Once in awhile we may hear of a neighbor who saw a non-native red fox scurrying through a wash. And if you look closely you may catch a glimpse of a family of quail, or peer skyward and, if you really have a keen eye, you can gaze at a bald eagle in flight or catch a red-tail hawk or even a Coopers hawk perched on a Jeffrey Pine.
The flora here is abundant and seems to grow without complaint. Throughout the spring and summer one can delight in an assortment of wildflowers including the desert sand verbena, the long-leaved aster, Deane's wirelettuce, Davidson's buckwheat, California-aster, Martin's paintbrush, the San Gabriel beardtongue, and rock goldenbush to name a few. Larger shrubs like redshank, sugar bush, manzanita, sagebrush and Oregon cliff fern are also native to the area and grow in profusion.
And then there are the tall pines; Jeffrey pine, lodgepole pine, the mighty ponderosa, the incense cedar, and the yellow pine are a good start and will keep you busy admiring their scent and beauty. Trails that start in Garner Valley meander through the Cleveland National Forest that borders the valley and extend as high as 9000 feet above nearby Idyllwild and then far, far beyond that. Hikers will find every degree of challenge – from casual day hikes to the extensive and stimulating Pacific Crest Trail.
THE COMMUNITY OF GARNER VALLEY
The Garner Valley equestrian neighborhood is a self-governed Property Owners Association. It consists of 306 five-acre parcels, 26 miles of private bridle trails, and a common area of over 160 acres. The common area, or “Common” contains a multi-use facility boasting a large meeting hall, a chef’s kitchen and several other smaller rooms where one can sit by a fire or read the local news on an ipad. The building offers the perfect setting for local events, neighborhood parties, private gatherings, and community meetings. The common grounds and arena are host to “Western Days”, the yearly chile cook-off, barbeques, an annual crafts fair, and many, many trail rides that meander through the adjacent national forest. For golfers, plans to rejuvenate the driving range and putting green are in the final stages of completion. Water is pumped from underground aquifers by our own wells and is managed by the Lake Hemet Water District. The overall goal is to eventually become a completely self-sustaining and self-sufficient community.
All homes in the valley are custom built and range from the earlier “minimalist’ styles that were constructed in the 1970s and 80s to log homes that vary from kits to the larger log, Swedish-cove style. Larger houses designed by renowned architects are becoming fairly plentiful as more and more people are beginning to discover the benefits of “living the good life” in Garner Valley.
Just to the Northwest lies the Garner Ranch, one of the oldest working cattle ranches in the region. It is also where many movies such as ‘Riders of the Range’ and TV’s popular western ‘Bonanza’ were filmed. (Remember the opening scene where Hoss and company ride up on horseback? That was shot here). Due west of the Garner Ranch is Lake Hemet. Here you can fish for blue gill, small-mouth bass, catfish or lake trout. Camp by the lake and check out the successful return of the bald eagle or take in a refreshing swim. Further up the road, past Hurkey Creek Park, Keen Camp and Living Free (a sanctuary for cats and dogs) is the mountain village of Idyllwild, home to artists, musicians, and a whole bunch of very special shops, eateries and B&Bs. East of, and adjacent to Garner Valley, lies the Cleveland National Forest where you can experience everything from historic mines to low lying meadows to mountain vistas where you will swear you were in the High Sierras. Just up and over the mountains to the east are the desert communities of Palm Springs and Palm Desert. These two towns combined are, arguably, the golfing capitals of the world, boasting more than 100 courses. You’ll be there in about 35 minutes if you take the Pines to Palms Highway (route 74) southeast from the valley. Right next door is Pathfinder Ranch. The ranch provides retreats for non-profit youth groups on weekends and outdoor education for schools in addition to summer camp for boys and girls. If you head southwest you can visit our nearest neighbor and the historic town of Anza (where many of us like to pick up feed for the horses or grab a tool or two at the local hardware store).
There are really too many things to do and see than time and space will allow for on this small website; such as riding a mountain bike over Thomas Mountain or exploring Gold Shot Mine or ‘Jack’s Shack’ or hiking down the switchbacks of Devil’s Slide. So you will just have to come and experience for yourself the beautiful Garner Valley, one of the “best kept secrets in Southern California”.