Smack in the middle of the San Bernadino National Forest lies Big Bear Lake.
If you are an outdoors enthusiast, Big Bear, about an hour and a half from the teeming metro area of Los Angeles, is the place for you to head to when its time for a break from it all.
With all four seasons covered for outside activities, you’re not going to be bored for even an instant.
Big Bear Lake offers:
• Alpine Slide/Water Slide
• Boating & Water Sports
• Cross Country Skiing
• Horseback Riding
• RV Parks & Marinas
• Skiing & Snowboarding
• Solar Observatory
If escaping from the urban grind is what you’ve got in mind, fire up your 4×4 and prepare to sully it as you explore literally hundreds of miles of roads that are littel more than dirt tracks or take your dirt bike or quad to the trails.
This place has got what you need to escape from the urban grind. Get that 4×4 truck, Jeep or SUV dirty & explore the hundreds of miles of dirt roads. From mild to wild! It’s all here in SoCal.
( “In Big Bear region you are likely to experience busy trail conditons on some of the most popular runs like “John Bull”; “Holcomb Creek” & “Deep Creek”.)
Camping can be rough country or take place in a tent or RV park, with plenty of the amenities if you’re not the back country type. Do bear in mind however that:
* fire permits are required
* permits are required for overnight back country camping
* check the ranger district for back country camping restrictions
There is also a park district in Meadow Park that will offer you some more tame activities such as sand volleyball, tennis horseshoes, as well as a lifeguard staffed swim beach with shady areas for those who are just watching the fun.
If water sports are your thing, bring your boat and prepare to have the time of your life.
The lake offers you two boat launches for easier access, or you may choose to rent a boat from the Marina at Big Bear.
You can cruise the lake on a dinner cruise or tour on the Big Bear Queen, which offers accommodations for sixty people on an old style paddlewheel boat, while offering the history of Big Bear, showing you celebrity homes on the Lake and the best fishing sites available to you.
The Marina also offers kayaks, canoes, paddle boats and windsurfers to experienced boat captains, or you can rent a water ski package (boat, driver and equipment) and learn a new sport while you’re visiting the lake.
One of the more interesting aspects of Big Bear is the natural hot springs that are here.
Big Bear was in the past, and continues to be a quite popular place for shooting movies on location such as the Last of the Mohicans,so you may just run into a familiar face while you’re here.
Wildly popular in the area are also world class winter activities, such as skiing, both downhill and cross country, as well as camping, snowshoeing, ice skating and several others.
Beginning in 1970 Big Bear lake has also been host to a yearly octoberfest, featuring some activities such as stein carrying contests, to feasts featuring incredible German foods.
” Big Bear Lake Octoberfest also sports the highest Biergarten in the U.S.”
If you’re into fishing in a big way, you’re going to want to try Big Bear Charters,
(909/866-2240) and go out to find the fish with a guide and equipment who are experienced in finding the big ones.
Want some adventure? Check out parasailing at Big Bear Parasail, which is located near the Pine Knot Landing (909/866.IFLY).
From this same site you can also try your hand at water skiing or go on a tube ride with the tube tows.
Big Bear is, more than anything else.. wild country and the hiking is incomparable.
The following trails are featured in Big Bear”(quoted from the Big Bear Lake web site, which you can find at Big Bear Info.com
Bear in mind that:
Most of the trailheads are in the Barton Flats area. YOu are able to pick up a description of the trails at the Ranger Station.
SEASONAL: The best hiking time is June to October. The rest of the year, trails are snow covered and dangerous. Some trails on south-facing slopes may be snow-free longer. Always check at the Ranger Stations for trail conditions.
Alpine Pedal Path Very Easy 3.5 miles long
This asphalt path meanders along the sparkling north shore of Big Bear Lake from the Stanfield Cutoff to the Solar Observatory. Although not flat by any means, its ups and downs are fairly gentle. In the Fall of 1998 the path was extended through a pedestrian tunnel under Highway 38 to the Cougar Crest Trail parking lot. The new path continues east .6 of a mile and connects with the Big Bear Discovery Center. There hikers can find water, bathrooms, and expert advice on all varieties of recreation in the San Bernardino National Forest.
Woodland Trail 1E23 Easy 1.5 miles long
This path starts and ends at the trailhead off Highway 38 just .2 miles west of the Stanfield Cutoff. It is an interpretive trail with 20 posted markers, ideal for families with young children. By picking up a pamphlet at the entrance, hikers can take themselves on a self-guided tour to learn about the botany, wildlife and geology of this unique area which is described as a dry woodland.
Champion Lodgepole Pine Trail IW11 Easy .6 miles Round Trip
Bluff Mesa Trail 1W16 Easy .8 miles Round Trip
To get to the Champion Lodgepole Pine Trailhead, which is on the south side of Big Bear Lake, you drive up Mill Creek Road (Forest Road 2N10) for 4.5 miles, turn right on 2N11 and continue for 1 mile to the trailhead. Then it’s a gentle walk down a path along a small steam for .3 miles. The trail ends at the Champion Lodgepole Pine, one of the largest known Lodgepole pines in California. Adjacent to the Champion Lodgepole Pine is a beautiful meadow, a tapestry of wildflowers in the spring. An interpretive brocure for the 15 makrers is available at the trailhead and at the Discovery Center. So please stay on the trails.
A companion path is the Bluff Mesa Trail which begins where the Champion Lodgepole Pine Trail ends and travels in a northerly direction for .4 miles, ending at the popular Bluff Mesa Group Camp. This continuation trail is easy and recommended for families who would like a leisurely walk through beautiful stands of stately Jeffrey Pine. No bicycles.
Castle Rock Trail 1W03 Moderate to Difficult 2.4 miles Round Trip
There is very limited parking on the south side of the highway 50 yards east of the trailhead.
The most popular trail in the Big Bear Valley begins 1.1 miles east of the dam on Highway 18. Although not a long hike, the elevation gain is 500 feet, making it a steep climb by any standards. At the top of the ridge is an impressive granite rock out-cropping and the source of many tales and local folklore. If you trust your rock climbing skills and can claw your way on top of the rocks, the view of the lake is wonderful. The best part of this hike is that it’s downhill all the way home.
Pineknot Trail 1E01 Moderate to Difficult 6 miles Round Trip.
The trail begins at the Aspen Glen Picnic Area and runs in a generally southerly direction until it reaches the aptly named Grand View Point, altitude 7,784. For the first 1.5 miles the hiker shares the trail with equestrian and mountain bike traffic as the trail winds its way up through stands of white fir and Jeffrey pine. Serious hikers make the 6 mile round trip in 3 hours or less. A family who plans to picnic at Grand View Point should plan on spending half the day leisurely enjoying the forest, the mountains and a great view of Big Bear Lake.
Gray’s Peak Trail 1W06 Moderate to Difficult 7 miles Round Trip
Hanna Flat Trail 1W05 Moderate 9 miles Round Trip
This trailhead is in the center of a bald eagle wintering habitat area and is closed to all public use from November 1 to April 1.
The trailhead for Gray’s Peak is located on the west side of Highway 38 about .6 miles west of Fawnskin across from the Grout Bay Picnic Area. The trail climbs westerly for .5 miles until it merges with forest road 2N04X. Turning north (right), 2N04X joins Forest Road 2N70 after .25 miles. Go straight; do not turn left. Then continue to the beginning of the Grays Peak Trail, 200 yards on your left. From there it is 2.75 miles to the top of Gray’s Peak. The trail fades as you get .25 miles from the summit, 7,920 feet, and it becomes increasingly more difficult as you climb up through buckthorn and over and around boulders.
The Hanna Flat Trail begins 50 yards past the Gray’s Peak Trail Sign on the right and continues for 4 miles to the Hanna Flat Campground.
Cougar Crest Trail 1E22 Moderate to Difficult 4 to 5.5 miles Round Trip
You can park for free until 6:00 PM in the summer at the Discovery Center and walk the .6 miles to the trailhead.
A well-maintained path through a wide variety of natural environments distinguishes the Cougar Crest. It starts .6 miles west of the Discovery Center on Highway 38. In the first mile there’s only a gentle uphill increase, but in second mile, you’ll realize that you’re gaining serious altitude. The Cougar Crest Trail ends at the junction of the Pacific Crest Trail (no mountain bikes), and a lot of hikers like to continue to the east (right) on a dirt maintenance road for .6 miles until they reach the summit of Bertha Peak, 8,502 feet. The peak is easily recognized by the large collection of transmitting equipment at the top. From the summit there’s a virtual 360 degree view of the Big Bear Valley, Holcomb Valley, and even the Mojave Desert.
For the truly inspired, one can continue along the world famous 2,600 mile Pacific Crest Trail which connects Canada to Mexico.
in order of increasing Difficulty
Camp Creek National Recreation Trail 1W09 Very Steep and Difficult 7.2 miles Round Trip
This trail begins .4 miles east of the Main Gate of the Snow Valley Ski Resort at the 2N97 Forest Road turnout. Signage at the trailhead will direct you to the Camp Creek Trail which 2N97 intersects in .3 miles. It is a very steep trail with an elevation change of 2,000 feet. It terminates at Bear Creek.
Sugarloaf National Recreation Trail 2E18 Difficult 10 miles Round Trip
From the south end of Stanfield Cutoff on Big Bear Boulevard (Highway 38), continue for 6 miles heading south toward Redlands. Turn right on 2N93 at the intersection of Highway 38 and Hatchery Road. Follow this dirt road until you reach the Sugarloaf Trail sign and park in the turnout. The first 2 miles is a dirt road, which at times follows Green Creek. Although the view from the summit of Sugarloaf Mountain is mostly obscured by trees, you have climbed to an altitude of 9,952 feet, the highest point in the Big Bear Valley.
Glory Ridge Trail 1W02 Very Difficult and Not Recommended 2 miles Round Trip
The turnout to the trailhead is 2 miles west of the Big Bear Lake dam on Highway 18, just after the Highway reduces from two lanes to one. Drive down rutted Forest Road 2N15. Turn right at the fork onto a dirt road. Drive slowly and park on a knoll at the road’s end. Follow the trail .25 miles to the trailhead which marked by a “Fishermen” sign. Now the trail becomes very strenuous, dropping 1,100 feet in 1 mile! Climbing down is treacherous; climbing out is exhausting.
Siberia Creek Trail Easy to Extremely Difficult 7 miles Round Trip
Park at the same trailhead as the Championship Lodgepole Pine Trail: To get to the Champion Lodgepole Pine Trailhead, which is on the south side of Big Bear Lake, you drive up Mill Creek Road (Forest Road 2N10) for 4.5 miles, turn right on 2N11 and continue for .5 miles, passing the turn-off for the tree. You will traverse and then parallel trickling Siberia Creek for 1.5 miles until you reach the “Gunsight.” This rock formation is two huge boulders which were named because they resemble the massive rear gunsight of a rifle. If you are in excellent shape and choose to continue down to Siberia Creek, be aware that the trail has been obliterated by many rockslides. It is also very steep with an elevation change of 3,000 feet.
This trail is not maintained by the Forest Service.
San Gorgonio Wilderness Hike Moderate and Difficult Trails
Points of Interest: pine and fir forests, lush subalpine meadows, sparkling streams, placid lakes, wildlife (particularly deer, bighorn sheep and black bears). Look for Dollar Lake, Dry Lake, San Gorgonio Peak, San Bernardino Peak, Fish Creek, and Aspen Grove.
Popular Wilderness trailheads are South Fork, Aspen Grove, Fish Creek, Forsee Creek, San Bernardino Peak, Momyer, and Vivian Creek. You can hike for a couple of hours or for a week. Be sure to get advice from Forest Service staff while planning your trip.
There are no easy trails in the Wilderness! In picking a trail, be sure you watch the elevation gains that will be made on the hike. The most popular route is from South Fork Trail, climbing 4,700 feet to the top of San Gorgonio. Round trip is 21.5 miles. It’s recommended as a 2-day (or longer) hike.