Big Bear, California, is not only known for its stunning lake and winter sports but also for its breathtaking hiking trails. With its pristine mountain landscapes and diverse ecosystems, Big Bear offers a paradise for outdoor enthusiasts and nature lovers.
Hiking in Big Bear allows you to explore the beauty of the San Bernardino National Forest, encounter wildlife, and enjoy panoramic views of the surrounding mountains and valleys. Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced hiker, there are trails suited to all skill levels.
Lace up your hiking boots and get ready to discover the 10 best hiking trails in Big Bear that promise unforgettable adventures and breathtaking scenery.
Importance of Hiking in Big Bear
Hiking in Big Bear not only provides a fantastic outdoor experience but also offers numerous physical and mental health benefits:
- Physical Fitness: Hiking is a great way to improve cardiovascular health, build muscle strength, and increase endurance.
- Stress Relief: Spending time in nature and engaging in physical activity can reduce stress levels, boost mood, and enhance overall well-being.
- Connection with Nature: Hiking allows you to connect with the natural world, appreciate the beauty of the landscapes, and observe wildlife in its natural habitat.
- Exploration: Big Bear’s hiking trails offer the opportunity to explore diverse ecosystems, including forests, meadows, and mountains.
- Adventure and Challenge: Hiking can be a thrilling adventure and provide a sense of accomplishment as you conquer steep ascents and explore rugged terrains.
The 10 Best Big Bear Hiking Trails
Here is an overview of the 10 best hiking trails in Big Bear:
- Castle Rock Trail: This popular trail offers stunning views of Big Bear Lake and leads to an impressive granite outcropping known as Castle Rock.
- Cougar Crest Trail: Experience the wilderness and stunning scenery on this moderate trail that offers panoramic views of Big Bear Valley and the high desert.
- Pine Knot Trail: Enjoy a varied landscape of pine forests, oaks, and manzanita on this trail that leads to the top of Grandview Point.
- Champion Lodgepole Trail: This scenic trail winds through forests and offers the opportunity to see diverse flora and fauna.
- Bertha Peak Trail: Hike to the top of Bertha Peak for panoramic views of Big Bear Lake and the surrounding mountains.
- Hanna Flat Trail: Explore pine forests, sandy landscapes, and lush streams on this loop trail that also connects to Greys Peak.
- Skyline Trail: Ride the Scenic Sky Chair to the top of Snow Summit and follow the Skyline Trail for breathtaking views and a thrilling adventure.
- Gray’s Peak Trail: This challenging trail rewards hikers with stunning views and the opportunity to summit Gray’s Peak.
- John Bull Loop: This scenic loop trail is perfect for experienced hikers and offers the chance to encounter wildlife and witness diverse landscapes.
- Butler Peak Trail: Hike to the top of Butler Peak for incredible 360-degree views of the San Bernardino Mountains.
These 10 hiking trails in Big Bear offer a range of experiences, from leisurely walks to challenging adventures. Lace up your hiking boots, pack some water and snacks, and explore the natural wonders of Big Bear’s hiking trails.
Now you’re ready to hit the trails!
1. Cougar Crest to Bertha Peak
The Cougar Crest to Bertha Peak trail is one of the most popular and rewarding hikes in Big Bear Lake. This trail offers hikers a moderate but not too strenuous hike with excellent views and beautiful wilderness. Here are some details about the trial:
- Length: The total roundtrip distance is approximately 4.5 miles.
- Difficulty: The trail is considered moderately difficult, suitable for hikers with some experience.
- Trailhead: The trail starts at the Cougar Crest Trail parking lot on the north shore of Big Bear Lake.
- Highlights: The trail takes hikers through lush alpine forests, offering glimpses of Big Bear Lake along the way. The trail also passes through the iconic Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) and culminates at Bertha Peak, which offers panoramic views of the lake.
Highlights of The Hike
- Scenic Views: The Cougar Crest to Bertha Peak trail provides stunning vistas of Big Bear Lake and the surrounding mountains. Hikers will be rewarded with picturesque landscapes and breathtaking panoramic views.
- Alpine Forests: The trail winds its way through enchanting alpine forests, with towering trees and serene surroundings. It’s a great opportunity to immerse oneself in the beauty of nature.
- Pacific Crest Trail (PCT): Hikers will have the chance to walk a portion of the famous Pacific Crest Trail, a long-distance hiking trail that stretches from Mexico to Canada. This adds an extra sense of adventure and accomplishment to the hike.
- Bertha Peak: The highlight of the hike is reaching the summit of Bertha Peak. From this vantage point, hikers can enjoy sweeping views of Big Bear Lake, neighboring mountains, and the surrounding wilderness.
The Cougar Crest to Bertha Peak trail is ideal for hikers looking for a moderately challenging hike with stunning views and a sense of adventure. Lace-up your boots and embark on this unforgettable Big Bear hiking experience.
2. Pine Knot Trail to Grand View Point
The Pine Knot Trail to Grand View Point is a must-do hike for outdoor enthusiasts in the Big Bear area. The trail takes you through the forest, providing a serene and peaceful experience. Here are some key details about the trail:
- Distance: The hike is approximately 6 miles round trip.
- Difficulty: The trail is considered intermediate, making it suitable for hikers of moderate skill levels.
- Terrain: You’ll encounter a mix of uphill sections, rolling terrain, and flat stretches along the trail.
- Navigation: The trail is well-marked with signs, guiding you in the right direction.
The Scenic Beauty and Panoramic Views
One of the highlights of the Pine Knot Trail is the scenic beauty it offers. As you hike through the forest, you’ll be treated to glimpses of Big Bear Lake, towering pine trees, and fascinating rock outcroppings. The trail rewards you with breathtaking panoramic views when you reach Grand View Point, which overlooks the San Bernardino high peaks. Here’s what makes the views special:
- Sweeping vistas: From Grand View Point, you’ll enjoy a 360-degree view of the surrounding mountains, including the tallest peak in Southern California, San Gorgonio, standing at 11,499 feet.
- Natural diversity: Along the way, you’ll encounter a range of natural habitats, from pine forests to manzanita trees and cacti. Keep an eye out for wildlife like bobcats and lizards.
- Seasonal beauty: The trail showcases different aspects of nature throughout the year. In the spring, you might be rewarded with fields of wildflowers, while winter brings a snowy backdrop to the views.
For a rewarding and picturesque hiking experience, the Pine Knot Trail to Grand View Point is a top choice in Big Bear. Lace up your hiking boots and get ready to explore the stunning beauty of this trail.
Click here to read more about the Pine Knot Trail to Grand View Point.
3. Woodland Interpretive Trail
The Woodland Interpretive Trail offers a unique hiking experience in Big Bear. This trail takes you through a diverse environment, allowing you to explore the natural beauty and learn about the local flora and fauna.
The Woodland Interpretive Trail is a moderate-level hiking trail that spans approximately 2 miles. It starts from the trailhead parking lot and winds its way through a woodland area, offering stunning views of towering pine trees, twisting junipers, and red-barked manzanita.
Some key features of the Woodland Interpretive Trail include:
- Varied landscapes: As you hike along the trail, you’ll encounter a variety of natural environments, from pine forests to sandy and low shrub environments. Each section of the trail offers a unique experience and showcases the diversity of the Big Bear ecosystem.
- Wildlife spotting: Keep an eye out for local wildlife as you hike through the woodland area. You may spot bobcats, lizards, and if you’re lucky, even rattlesnakes. Remember to observe wildlife from a safe distance and respect their natural habitat.
- Rest areas: The trail provides benches and scenic spots where you can take a break and enjoy the surrounding beauty of nature. These rest areas offer beautiful lake views and are perfect for rejuvenation during your hike.
Exploring the Diverse Environment
One of the highlights of the Woodland Interpretive Trail is the opportunity to explore the diverse environment of Big Bear. As you hike through the different landscapes, you’ll gain a deeper understanding of the region’s unique ecosystems and the plants and animals that call it home.
Pick up a brochure at the trailhead to take a self-guided tour. The brochure includes an interactive guide with 16 posted stops, providing information about the botany, geology, and wildlife of the area. This educational component adds an extra layer of enjoyment to your hiking experience and allows you to connect with nature on a deeper level.
The Woodland Interpretive Trail is a must-visit for nature lovers and hikers looking to immerse themselves in the beauty of Big Bear. Lace up your hiking boots, grab your camera, and get ready to embark on an adventure that will leave you with lasting memories.
For more information about hiking in Big Bear and trail options, you can visit this link.
4. Alpine Pedal Path
One of the best hiking trails in Big Bear is the Alpine Pedal Path. This asphalt path stretches along the north shore of Big Bear Lake, offering beautiful views of the lake and the surrounding mountains. Here is some more information about this popular trail:
The Alpine Pedal Path is an easy and accessible trail that is suitable for all ages and fitness levels. The path is paved, making it wheelchair and stroller-friendly. It is approximately 3.5 miles long, providing a leisurely hike or bike ride for visitors to enjoy.
The trail starts near the Stanfield Cutoff and ends at the Solar Observatory, offering a scenic route along the shoreline of Big Bear Lake. Along the way, you’ll pass through picturesque alpine meadows, juniper and pine forests, and seasonal wildflowers, creating a stunning backdrop for your hike.
Enjoying the Scenic Views of Big Bear Lake
One of the highlights of hiking the Alpine Pedal Path is the breathtaking views of Big Bear Lake. The trail offers numerous viewpoints where you can stop and take in the beauty of the lake and the surrounding mountains. It’s the perfect opportunity to capture some amazing photos or simply sit and appreciate the tranquility of nature.
Whether you choose to walk, run, or bike along the Alpine Pedal Path, you’ll be treated to stunning vistas and a peaceful atmosphere. It’s a great trail for families, couples, or individuals looking to enjoy the outdoors and soak in the beauty of Big Bear Lake.
For more information about the Alpine Pedal Path and its accessibility, you can visit this link.
5. Jenks Lake Trail
The Jenks Lake Trail in Big Bear is a must-try hiking trail for outdoor enthusiasts. This trail offers a beautiful hike and opportunities for fishing in the San Bernardino National Forest.
The Jenks Lake Trail is a 3.1-mile hike that takes you to Jenks Lake, a popular fishing spot in the area. The trail starts near the Barton Flats Visitor Center and is well-marked along the way. As you hike, you’ll encounter switchbacks and cross Frog Creek before reaching the lake. The trail offers stunning views of the San Gorgonio Ridge and the surrounding forested landscape.
Once you reach Jenks Lake, you can enjoy fishing for trout and other fish species in the serene mountain setting. The lake is known for its clear water and is a great place to relax and unwind after a hike. Whether you’re an experienced angler or a beginner, fishing at Jenks Lake is a rewarding experience.
Natural Beauty and Peaceful Surroundings
The Jenks Lake Trail is known for its natural beauty and peaceful surroundings. As you hike along the trail, you’ll be immersed in the scenic beauty of the San Bernardino National Forest. The trail is surrounded by towering pine trees, lush meadows, and abundant wildlife, making it a haven for nature lovers.
The peaceful atmosphere of Jenks Lake makes it an ideal destination for those seeking tranquility and a connection with nature. Whether you’re hiking alone or with a group, the trail, and the lake offer a peaceful escape from the hustle and bustle of daily life.
To learn more about Big Bear hiking trails, you can visit the National Forest Association website for detailed trail information and maps.
The Jenks Lake Trail is just one of the many beautiful hikes in Big Bear that you should try. Each trail offers its unique features and stunning landscapes, allowing you to immerse yourself in the beauty of nature. So put on your hiking boots, grab your fishing gear, and head out to explore the incredible hiking trails of Big Bear.
6. San Bernardino Town Trail
The San Bernardino Town Trail is a popular hiking trail in Big Bear that offers a scenic and enjoyable outdoor experience. This trail is relatively easy and suitable for hikers of all levels, making it a great choice for families or those looking for a leisurely hike. The trail starts at the Big Bear Discovery Center and follows the path of the old Gold Rush era wagon road.
To access the trail, park your vehicle at the Big Bear Discovery Center, which is located at 40971 North Shore Drive East. From there, you can start your hike and follow the clearly marked trailhead signs. The trail winds through beautiful forests and offers glimpses of the picturesque Big Bear Lake along the way.
As you hike along the San Bernardino Town Trail, you’ll be surrounded by lush vegetation and towering pine trees. The trail provides a peaceful and serene environment, allowing you to reconnect with nature and take in the stunning natural beauty of Big Bear. Be sure to bring sunscreen, water, and comfortable walking shoes for the hike.
Exploring Big Bear Village and Snow Summit
After enjoying a scenic hike along the San Bernardino Town Trail, you can take some time to explore the nearby attractions in Big Bear Village and Snow Summit. Here are some highlights to check out:
- Big Bear Village: Located in the heart of Big Bear, the village offers a charming and quaint atmosphere with a variety of shops, restaurants, and art galleries. Take a leisurely stroll through the village and browse the unique shops and boutiques.
- Snow Summit: If you’re visiting during the winter months, Snow Summit is a must-visit destination for skiing and snowboarding enthusiasts. This popular ski resort offers a range of slopes and trails for all skill levels, as well as breathtaking mountain views.
- Dining Options: After a day of hiking and exploring, treat yourself to a delicious meal at one of Big Bear’s many restaurants. From casual eateries to fine dining establishments, there’s something for every palate.
- Outdoor Activities: If you’re looking for more outdoor adventures, Big Bear offers a wide range of activities such as biking, fishing, kayaking, and boating. Take advantage of the beautiful surroundings and enjoy the fresh air and sunshine.
For more information about hiking trails and outdoor activities in Big Bear, you can visit the official website of Big Bear Lake at https://www.bigbear.com/.
The San Bernardino Town Trail is just one of many beautiful hiking trails in Big Bear that offer a chance to explore the natural wonders of this picturesque destination. Lace up your hiking boots, hit the trail, and discover the beauty of Big Bear on your next outdoor adventure.
7. Champion Lodgepole via Castle Rock Trail
The Champion Lodgepole hike is a must-do trail for nature enthusiasts visiting Big Bear. It can be accessed via the Castle Rock Trail, which adds to the adventure and provides stunning views along the way. Here’s what you need to know about this hike:
- Trailhead: The trailhead for the Castle Rock Trail is located on the south side of Big Bear Lake, off Big Bear Boulevard (CA-18). Parking can be limited, so arrive early to secure a spot.
- Length: The Castle Rock Trail is approximately 2.6 miles long, making it a moderate hike suitable for most skill levels.
- Highlights: The hike offers a good workout without being too difficult, allowing hikers of all ages to enjoy the experience. Along the way, you’ll pass through large granite boulders and towering evergreen trees, providing a picturesque backdrop.
- Views: As you ascend the trail, you’ll be rewarded with expansive views of Big Bear Lake, the surrounding mountains, and the city. The final leg of the hike requires some light rock climbing, but the panoramic views from Castle Rock make it well worth the effort.
Castle Rock and Champion Lodgepole Pine
One of the highlights of this hike is reaching Castle Rock, a large boulder formation that offers sweeping views of Big Bear Lake and the surrounding landscape. It’s a great spot to take a break, snap some photos, and soak in the natural beauty.
But the adventure doesn’t end there. If you’re up for a bit more exploration, you can continue from Castle Rock and hike to the Champion Lodgepole Pine. This impressive tree stands over 110 feet tall and is estimated to be more than 400 years old. It’s a testament to the resilience and beauty of nature.
Make sure to bring water, wear comfortable hiking shoes, and pack sunscreen and snacks. Always check the weather and trail conditions before embarking on any hike, and be respectful of the environment by leaving no trace.
For more information about the Champion Lodgepole via Castle Rock Trail, you can visit this resource which provides detailed turn-by-turn directions and additional hiking recommendations in the area.
So grab your hiking gear and get ready to explore the natural wonders of Big Bear on the Champion Lodgepole via Castle Rock Trail.
8. Bluff Lake Preserve Trail
If you’re looking for a beautiful and serene hiking experience, the Bluff Lake Preserve is a must-visit destination in Big Bear. This nature preserve offers stunning views, diverse wildlife, and a variety of hiking trails to explore.
The Bluff Lake Preserve features several well-marked trails that cater to hikers of all skill levels. Here are some of the key trails within the preserve:
- Bear Lake Woodland Trail: This easy trail stretches for 4.6 miles and offers a scenic walk through lush woodland areas. It’s perfect for a leisurely hike and is accessible from the Bear Lake parking area.
- Bluff Lake Reserve Loop: A moderate 4.6-mile loop trail that takes you through the beautiful Bluff Lake Preserve and offers fantastic views of the surrounding landscape. It can be accessed from various points within the preserve.
- Gold Fever OHV Trail: This moderate trail spans 4.6 miles and is popular among off-road enthusiasts. It provides a thrilling and adventurous experience, showcasing the natural beauty of the area. Access to this trail is available near the Gold Fever OHV staging area.
For detailed trail maps and more information on access points, it is recommended to visit the Big Bear Discovery Center or check out the official Big Bear Lake website.
Breathtaking Views and Wildlife Spotting
One of the highlights of hiking in Bluff Lake Preserve is the opportunity to witness breathtaking views of the surrounding landscape. As you explore the trails, you’ll be treated to stunning vistas of mountains, forests, and even the picturesque Bluff Lake itself.
In addition to the scenic beauty, the preserve is also home to a wide range of wildlife. Keep an eye out for various bird species, including bald eagles, as well as other animals such as squirrels, chipmunks, and deer. Nature enthusiasts will delight in the chance to spot these creatures in their natural habitat while enjoying the tranquility of the preserve.
For more information about the Bluff Lake Preserve and its rich biodiversity, you can visit the official website of The Wildlands Conservancy, which manages and protects the preserve.
Whether you’re a seasoned hiker or someone looking for a peaceful nature escape, Bluff Lake Preserve offers an unforgettable hiking experience. Make sure to pack your camera and binoculars to capture the stunning views and spot some of the incredible wildlife along the way.
9. Sugarloaf Mountain
Sugarloaf Mountain offers a challenging yet rewarding hiking experience in Big Bear. This trail is known for its spectacular views and diverse landscapes, making it a must-visit for outdoor enthusiasts. Here’s what you need to know about hiking Sugarloaf Mountain:
The Sugarloaf Mountain trail is a difficult 11.6-mile out and back hike that takes you through rugged, undulating terrain. The trail begins in the town of Fawnskin and leads you uphill along the lower slopes of Grays Peak Trail. As you ascend, you’ll be rewarded with breathtaking views of Big Bear Lake and the surrounding countryside.
The trail gradually gains elevation, reaching a height of 9,952 feet at the summit of Sugarloaf Mountain. Along the way, you’ll pass through majestic alpine forests, meadows, and rocky outcroppings, providing diverse and scenic landscapes to enjoy.
Spectacular Views from The Summit
Once you reach the summit of Sugarloaf Mountain, you’ll be treated to panoramic views of Big Bear Lake, San Gorgonio Mountain, and other peaks in the area. The sweeping vistas are a perfect reward for your hiking efforts and offer incredible photo opportunities.
From the summit, you can take in the beauty of the surrounding wilderness, including towering pine trees, lush meadows, and stunning wildflowers. It’s a peaceful and serene setting that allows you to connect with nature and appreciate the natural beauty of Big Bear.
If you’re an experienced hiker looking for a challenging adventure and stunning views, the Sugarloaf Mountain trail is the perfect choice. Just make sure to prepare properly, bring plenty of water and snacks, and be aware of the trail conditions before setting out on your hike.
For more information about hiking in Big Bear, you can visit San Bernardino National Forest for additional details.