It’s no secret that Pitzer has a lot to offer right here on campus. You can sip on a smoothie while listening to live music at Shakedown sounds, attend an art show in the Grove House featuring work that was created by your classmates and friends, partake in an Alley Cat scavenger hunt, hang out at the pool, or spend an afternoon slacklining. Even with all of the exciting amenities and events that Pitzer has to offer, heading off-campus– out into the beautiful Southern California sunshine– can be a rewarding and rejuvenating way to spend your day. In my three years at Pitzer so far, I’ve discovered a handful of spots in and around SoCal that I believe to be worthy of the highly coveted title, Kat’s favorite places to hangout in Southern California besides Pitzer’s campus.
1. Deep Creek Hot Springs
This hidden gem located in Apple Valley has been the spot where I’ve had some of my favorite Pitzer adventures to date. The first time I visited the hot springs was in August of 2015, on a day when the temperatures were nearing the upper-nineties by 1:00 in the afternoon. After a series of wrong-turns, the friends I was hiking with and I ended up getting VERY lost in the Mojave desert, and after 14-hours of walking, hitch hiking, and a handful of emotional breakdowns, we FINALLY made it back to our car. *Pro-tip* for if you’re planning on visiting this spot, make sure you have a good map or very clear directions before you hit the trail!
2. Claremont Wilderness Trail
The Claremont Wilderness Trail is a 5-mile loop located North of Pitzer and the other Claremont Colleges. The wilderness trail is the perfect spot for when you’re in need of some time outside and in nature but don’t want to stray too far from campus. If you’re an early riser, this is a great walk or run to do first thing in the morning– you’ll get a great view of the sunrise!
3. Mount Baldy Waterfall
For those days when Pitzer’s succulent-abundant/xeriscaped campus just isn’t doing it for you, head on over to the Mount Baldy Waterfall for a little H2O. The waterfall is the perfect place to take a dip on hot days (like in the summer months when Claremont gets upwards of 100 degrees Fahrenheit). You can even slide down the waterfall if you’re feeling particularly adventurous!
4. Joshua Tree National Park
Joshua Tree National Park is one of those spots that you have to visit at least once during your time at Pitzer. The park– which is nicknamed “J-Tree”– is a 2 hour drive from campus, and has a lot to offer: The park itself is a favorite among hikers, car-campers, backpackers, and rock-climbers. For those who want to experience J-Tree from the indoors, there is a town located north of the park with a number of art galleries, restaurants, and a weekend farmer’s market. My favorite memory from J-Tree is the night when a few friends and I hurriedly scrambled up a boulder (with s’mores in hand) to watch the last bit of the sunset. We only caught the tail end of the sun setting over the park, but munching on our s’mores as we watched the sun disappear over the mountains in the distance made for a lovely (and picturesque!) moment.
5. Crystal Cove Beach
Southern California has a lot of beautiful beaches to choose from, but Crystal Cove is my personal favorite. I love heading to this beach for a few hours on a weekend to soak up some sunshine while pretending to get some reading done (but actually end up falling asleep instead). *Pro-tip* for if you’re interested in visiting Crystal Cove, or really any beach in SoCal; you can never wear too much sunscreen…
6. Claremont Pooch Park
Yes, you read that correctly. This one is definitely not relevant to every Pitzer student, but as someone who has an Emotional Support Animal (ESA) that lives with me on campus, the Claremont Pooch Park is a spot that my dog Scooter and I visit on a regular basis. The park is within walking distance of campus, and it’s a lovely place to go hang out and let Scooter run around with his doggie friends for a few hours!
7. Big Bear
Having grown up in Colorado, colder weather and changing leaves are things that I really found myself missing during my first semester here at Pitzer. Big Bear– which is just an hour away from campus– provided a small taste of home with its mountainous landscape, colorful fall leaves, and crisp autumn air (mm ~poetry~). One of my favorite trips to Big Bear was this past October, when I went on a weekend retreat with a club that I’m involved with on campus. Just about everything that could have gone wrong with that trip did in fact go wrong– beginning with a spilled bottle of Balsamic Vinaigrette that attracted many a critter to our campsite during the night, and ending with a trip back to Pitzer at midnight when we realized that the car keys (along with three of our sleeping bags) had gotten locked inside one of the cars. The only reason the trip wasn’t a complete disaster is that I was surrounded by a great group of people– all of whom laughed through each one of these mishaps and ultimately made the weekend a wonderfully chaotic adventure.
All photos courtesy of Kat Harhai
Posted by Kat Harhai ’18