San Bernardino National Forest
P.O. Box 290, Fawnskin, CA 92333
40971 North Shore Drive, Hwy 38
This symbol indicates that parking at the trailhead requires an Adventure Pass or Interagency Passes.
Alpine Pedal Path
Very Easy – 2.5 miles One Way
This asphalt path meanders along the sparkling north shore of Big Bear Lake from Stanfield Cutoff to the Solar Observatory and Serrano Campground. Although not flat by any means, its’ ups and downs are fairly gentle. In the fall of 1998 the path was extended and includes a pedestrian tunnel under Hwy 38 to the Cougar Crest Trail parking lot. The new extension continues east 0.6 of a mile and connects with the Big Bear Discovery Center. Hikers can find water, restrooms and expert advice on all varieties of recreation in the San Bernardino National Forest at the Discovery Center. Seasonal parking is also available at Juniper Point Picnic Area and Meadow’s Edge Picnic Area with an Adventure Pass or Interagency Pass.
Nature Discovery Trail (1E51)
Easy – 0.5 miles – Loop Elevation Gain: 100 feet
The Nature Discovery Trail is a 0.5 mile loop trail that gently winds its way through the forest behind the Big Bear Discovery Center. The trail is complete with 3 benches to stop and take in the fresh air along with peekaboo views of Big Bear Lake and Mt. San Gorgonio. Opened in spring 2013, future plans include the addition of interpretive signs to educate visitors about the natural history of the area.
The Woodland Trail (1E23)
Easy – 1.5 miles – Loop Elevation Gain: 300 feet
This path starts and ends at the trailhead off Hwy 38, 0.2 miles west of Stanfield Cutoff. It is an interpretive trail with 16 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 (1W11)
Easy – 0.3 miles – One Way Elevation Gain: 100 feet
to Bluff Mesa Trail (1W16)
Easy – Additional – 0.4 miles One Way Elevation Gain: 300 feet
The Champion Lodgepole Pine Trailhead is located on the south side of Big Bear Lake. From Hwy 18, turn south on Mill Creek Road which turns into Forest Road 2N10. Forest Service Road 2N10 is a dirt fire road. When driving Forest Service fire/dirt roads, caution should be taken for uneven road surfaces, rocks and dips, high clearance vehicles are recommended. Continue on FS 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 stream for 0.3 of a mile. 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. (So please stay on the trails.) A companion path is the Bluff Mesa Trail (No Bicycles) which begins where the Champion Lodgepole Pine Trail ends, and travels in a northerly direction for 0.4 of a mile, 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. These two trails are accessible when Forest Service Roads 2N10 and 2N11 are open to motorized vehicles.
Towne Trail (1E27)
Easy to Moderate – 3 miles Round Trip – Elevation Gain: 100 feet
This trail begins on Forest Road 2N08 east of Knickerbocker Road between Snow Summit Ski Area and Big Bear Lake Village. From HWY 18, turn south on Knickerbocker Road. Continue on Knickerbocker for 0.5 mile to beginning of Forest Road 2N08 on the left. Park here when gate is closed (do not block gate) or drive up Forest Road 2N08 and park in a large turnout just before trailhead. Town Trail is relatively flat with a few intermittent stream crossings. Look for the large Incense Cedar and White Fir trees that line the trail, they enjoy the abundant water and shade found on the south side of Big Bear Lake.
Castle Rock Trail (1W03)
Moderate to Difficult – 2.4 miles Round Trip – Elevation Gain: 700 feet
The most popular trail in the Bear Valley begins 1.1 mile east of the dam Hwy 18. There is very limited parking on the north side of the highway 50 yards east of the trailhead. 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 climb your way to the top of the rocks from the north side, 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 – Elevation Gain: 900 feet
The Pineknot Trail begins at the Aspen Glen Picnic Area and climbs south until it reaches the aptly named Grand View Point, altitude 7,784 feet. For the first 1 ½ miles the hiker shares the trail with equestrian and mountain bike traffic, while they wind their way up through stands of white fir and Jeffrey pine. Serious hikers make the 6 mile round trip in 3 hours of less, while a family who plans to picnic at Grand View Point should plan on spending half the day to leisurely enjoy the forest, the mountains and a great view of Big Bear Lake.
Gray’s Peak Trail (1W06)
Moderate to Difficult – 7 miles Round Trip – Elevation Gain: 1,000 feet
This trailhead is located on the west side of HWY 38 0.6 of a mile west of Fawnskin, across from the Grout Bay Picnic Area. (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 trail climbs westerly for 0.5 mile until it merges with Forest Road 2N04X. Turning north (right), 2N04X joins Forest Road 2N70 after a ¼ mile (go straight, do not turn left) and continue onto Gray’s Peak Trail, 200 yards on your left. From there it is 2 ¾ miles to the top of Gray’s Peak.
Hanna Flat Trail (1W05) to Gray’s Peak Summit
Moderate – 7.8 miles Round Trip – Elevation Gain: 50 feet
Hanna Flat Trail begins between campsites 54 & 55 in Hanna Flat Campground, it also shares the Gray’s Peak Trailhead on HWY 38. The trail climbs from the campground through part of the forest that burned in 2007 before it meets Grey’s Peak Trail. At the intersection of Forest Road 2N70 turn left, the trail to Grey’s Peak will be 50 yards down the road on the right. It is 2 ¾ miles to the top of Gray’s Peak.
Cougar Crest Trail (1E22)
Moderate to Difficult – 2 miles One Way – Elevation Gain: 750 feet
to Bertha Peak
Difficult – 1.5 miles One Way – Elevation Gain: 1,360 feet
A well-maintained path through a wide variety of natural environments distinguishes the Cougar Crest. It starts 0.6 of a mile west of the Discovery Center on HWY 38. (You can park for free until 5:00 pm at the Big Bear Discovery Center and walk the 0.6 mile to the trailhead.) In the first mile there’s only a gentle uphill increase, but within the 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 bicycles on PCT). To Bertha Peak: Continue east (right) on the Pacific Crest Trail to a dirt maintenance road. Continue 0.6 on maintenance road until you reach the summit of Bertha Peak (8,201 feet); easily recognized by the large collection of communication equipment at the top. From the summit there’s a near 360 degree view of the Bear Valley, Holcomb Valley, even the Mojave Desert.
Skyline Trail (1E12)
Moderate to Difficult – 8.5 miles One Way – Elevation Gain: 160 feet
This trail begins at the intersection of Forest Road 2N10 and 2N06. Built within a firebreak, the trail winds through stands of Jeffery Pines, manzanita and buckthorn as it parallels Forest Road 2N10. A cross-country trail with few long hills and descents, it is a multi-use trail designed for hikers, mountain bikers and equestrian riders. The Skyline Trail can be used to access many of the other trails within the South Shore Trail System.
Sugarloaf National Recreation Trail (2E18)
Difficult – 10 miles Round Trip – Elevation Gain: 1,200 feet
From the south end of Stanfield Cutoff on Big Bear Blvd. Hwy 38 continue for 6 miles heading south toward Redlands. Turn right on 2N93, at the intersection of Hwy 38 and Hatchery Road. Follow this dirt road until you reach the Sugarloaf Trail sign and park in the turnout. The first 2 miles of trail is a rough and rocky road, at times following 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 – not recommended – 2 miles Round Trip – Elevation Gain: 1,500 feet
The turnout to the trailhead is 2 miles west of the Big Bear Lake dam on Hwy 18, just after the Hwy reduces from 2 lanes to 1 lane. Drive down rutted Forest Road 2N15, continue passed a dirt road on a right staying on 2N15. At the fork in the road continue right and park on a knoll at the road’s end. Follow the trail ¼ mile to the trailhead, 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. High clearance vehicles are recommended.
Leave No Trace Seven Principles
Follow these seven principles to insure safe and enjoyable visit to the San Bernardino National Forest.
- Plan Ahead and Prepare: Know the regulations of the area where you plan to visit. Call ahead to the local ranger station to find out current local weather and trail conditions. Plan for the possibility of extreme weather, high water crossings and other unexpected hazards and emergencies. Always bring a map and compass and know how to use them. Consider the physical condition, skills, experience, and expectations of all the members of your group when planning your trip.
- Travel and Camp on Durable Surfaces: Please stay on the trail; cutting switchbacks causes erosion. If you have to hike off trail, please hike on durable surfaces and avoid fragile areas such as meadows. Select a campsite on a hard dry surface such as rock, sand, gravel, or pine needle duff, not on vegetation or in meadows.
- Dispose of Waste Properly: Pack out everything you pack in. Human food and trash is unhealthy for animals and leads to harmful habituation by animals to human presence and food. Leave your campsite cleaner than you found it. Use toilet paper sparingly and pack it out.
- Leave What You Find: Natural objects of beauty or interest, such as wildflowers, should be left for others to discover and enjoy. In all areas it is illegal to remove cultural artifacts such as arrowheads or pictographs.
- Minimize Campfire Impacts: Where fires are permitted, use established fire rings. Consider using a portable gas camping stove instead. Always check fire restrictions before camping/hiking by calling the nearest ranger station.
- Respect Wildlife: Never feed wild animals! This is for your own safety and the health of the wild animal. Habituation to human food leads to unhealthy interactions between wildlife and people. Pets must be kept under control and not allowed to harass wildlife, stock, or other visitors.
- Be Considerate of Other Visitors: Respect the solitude of others by avoiding boisterous behavior and loud noises, let nature’s sounds prevail. Avoid the use of bright lights, cell phones, radios, electronic games, walkie-talkies and other intrusive devices. If they must be used, use earphones. Keep the noise down, especially at night or in remote places. Keep voices low.
Visit the Big Bear Discovery Center for more information and a large selection of maps and hiking guides. The staff and volunteers will be glad to give you expert advice and assistance. The San Bernardino National Forest has the highest concentration of endangered plant species in the United States. Enjoy the mountains and the Forest and please stay on the trails.
San Bernardino National Forest website: http://www.fs.usda.gov/sbnf
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