10 Best Big Bear Hiking Trails

There are several trails to explore during your stay at Big Bear Lakefront cabins. On these trails, you will get to experience the most gorgeous and serene waterfront, forest views, pine trees and wildlife.

Nestled between the mountains at the heart of the San Bernardino National Forest, Big Bear provides a number of adventurous experiences to its visitors. Hiking at Big Bear Lake is one of the most exciting and fun-filled outdoor activities. You will get to breathe in the scent of ponderosa pines and other wild flowers all along your way.

Whether you are visiting the Big Bear for the first or a seasoned traveler, these 10 Big Bear hiking trails are not to miss!!

Castle Rock Trail – Easy

One of the most iconic rock formations in Big Bear is Castle Rock Trail. It is a local favorite and is fairly shorter, 2.4 miles for round- trip and an elevation change of about 700 feet. Although, the first half mile of the track is quite steep but it balances off when you reach the granite rock at the peak.

From spring to summer, water rushing through the gully is a beautiful and common sight. There is also a pretty waterfall along the way. Seasonal creeks in the spring and the exotic autumn leaves in the fall makes it the most gorgeous trail to the Castle Rock.

Once you reach the saddle at the top of this trail, you will find the Castle Rock towards the east. If you want to explore further, there is an indentation to the northwest of the formation that will lead you to the summit for a magnificent view of the lake.

Finding the Castle Rock Trail Head

This Trail begins 1-mile east of the Big Bear Dam on Highway 18. There is a brown sign on the south side of the Highway that marks the head of the trail.

Woodland Interpretive Trail – Easy

This hiking trail to the Big Bear Lake is the perfect path to bring your family. It has an elevation change of only 300 feet and the trail is about 1.5 miles long. It has 16 posted stops along the way where you can enjoy with your family.

This hiking path also gives you a great learning experience. Grab a brochure at the head of the trail and explore the unique geology, botany and wildlife of this hiking trail.

Woodland Interpretive Trail is along the north side of the Big Bear Lake on Highway 38. The trail head is about a quarter mile west of the Stanfield Cutoff.

Note: You will need a Southern California Forest Adventure pass to access the parking lot.

Alpine Pedal Path Trail – Easy

Alpine Pedal Path is one of the easiest hike of Big Bear Hiking Trails. This paved path is along the north shore of the Big Bear Lake. It is about 3.2 miles long and connects the Stanfield cutoff to the Serrano campground.

The trail is filled with the beautiful alpine meadows, juniper and pine forests and some sprinkled wild flowers. It also offers tremendous views of the ski resorts along the way. If you want to have a leisurely walk along the Big Bear Lake, then this should be your trail-to-go.

Walk, jog or run along the way, or take a break on the benches along the way while enjoying mesmerizing views of the forest. This hiking trail is equally accessible to hikers, bikers, strollers and wheelchairs. You can even take your dog on a stroll on this trail.

Pine Knot Trail – Easy to Moderate Hike

Pine knot trail is also a great hiking trail which is famous equally among bikers, horseback riders and hikers. It is a six mile hike of round trip. The whole trail is rewarded with breathtaking views of the lake and thick forest.

The trail begins at the base of Aspen Glen Picnic area towards the south of Mill Creek Road. It is loaded with Jeffery Pine, white fir, oaks and Manzanita. The trail crosses the road at the 2N08, skirts alongside the Deer Group Camp, and take you to the 2N10 where a sign will point you the Grandview Point.

If you keep following the trail for another quarter mile, it will take you up to the mesmerizing views of the Mt. San Gorgonio.

Pine Knot Trail is not as steep as Castle Rock Trail but it is quite longer. Most of the hikers complete the trail in about 3 hours so pack accordingly.

Cougar Crest Trail – Moderate to Difficult Hike

This trail ranks between moderate and difficult hiking to the top. The elevation change is about 750 feet and the trail is about 5 miles long, so if you are looking for some hear-pumping workout, this hiking is for you. The first mile of this trail is a quite gentle uphill climb, after that you really start gaining the altitude.

This trail offers wide variety of natural environments, from towering pine trees to red-barked manzanita to spiny cactus to twisting Junipers, you will witness everything along the way. Beautiful lake views start towards the end of the hike.

You may also see lizards, bobcats, squirrels and some rattlesnakes too, so look out for them. The trail ends at the famous Pacific Crest Trail. If you want to explore further, you can continue to the Bertha Peak which takes you anther .75 miles high. There you will enjoy the spectacular views of the Big Bear Valley and the High Desert.

This trail starts on the Highway 38, 0.6 miles west of the Discovery Center.

The Skyline Trail

This is a 15-mile long iconic Skyline Trail which spans the south shore of the Big Bear Lake. It runs along a ridge parallel to the Forest Service Road 2N10.

It begins at the end of Dogwood Drive, where the trail immediately begins climbing upwards. Along the trail, you will catch views of Mt. San Gorgonio and glimpses of the lake towards the north.

Champion Lodgepole Trails – Easy

The Champion Lodgepole Trail is one of the most popular hiking trails of the Big Bear Valley. The hike is more like a nice stroll with only around one mile round trip and an elevation gain of 50 feet.

The trail is filled with the views of lush forest, largest Lodgepole pine trees of the world and Bluff Meadows. You will get to witness wild flowers popping along the trail in spring and summer seasons. There is also a seasonal stream along the way.

The forest floor is covered with the green ferns as you approach Bluff Meadows and the open spaces are filled with corn lilies and damselflies.

Gray’s Peak Trail – Difficult Hike

This trail is open seasonally from April through October. This is a long yet serene trail in Fawnskin along the Big Bear Lake. The elevation gain for this trail is about 1000 feet, so it is for the adventurous people out there who likes challenging hikes.

After covering the first milestone of the steep section of the trail, the terrain levels-off for the remainder of the three and a half mile trail. The trail has more glorious views than the rest of the trails because of the elevation but it isn’t for the weak of hearts.

This trail is located nearly half a mile west of Fawnskin on Highway 38 near the signs of Grout Bay Picnic Area. You can park anywhere in the picnic area lot but remember that you will need an Adventure Pass for the hiking.

Grandview Loop Bike Trail – Intermediate

This is a popular low consequence and low risk mountain biking trail. This trail is one of the longest at 7.5 miles. The trail starts by taking the Snow Summit Science Sky Chair up to the top of the mountain. It then proceed by the way of the Skyline Trail to the Grandview Point Junction. You will a see lot of MTB trail users and they usually take you by surprise so beware of them.

There is a fork in the trail, where you have the option to ride 2.5 miles to Grandview Point and enjoy the stunning views of the San Gorgonio or to continue home.

John Bull Loop Bike Trail – Expert Hiking

This is one of the most challenging trails of the Big Bear. You will need a lot of stamina and some basic navigation skills to complete the hike. The trail starts at Van Dusen Canyon Road 3N09 and then ride up about 3.5 miles. There you will reach the Holcomb valley then to 3N16 turn left, after that to 3N07 turn right. From there, to 3N43 turn left and then to John Bull Trail (3N10). The trail is about 14.9 miles long.

More Information about Big Bear Hiking Trails

There are many more challenging hiking and biking trails in Big Bear that you can explore including the Pacific Crest Trail and the Grout Bay Loop Bike Trail. Whether you are a professional hiker or just a beginner, Big Bear offers many that will match your hiking expectations.

Hiking Tips for Big Bear Lake

  • Take plenty of water with. There is not any water availability along the trails
  • Bring proper footwear with you. Sneakers or hiking boots will be the best choice as you can’t hike in uncomfortable shoes.
  • Apply lots of sunscreen as the UV rays are really strong at this elevation. It is good to bring sunglasses and a hat to avoid the sun.
  • Fully charge your mobile phones before starting the hike.
  • Pack some flashlights, whistles and snacks.
  • Check to see beforehand if you need an Adventure Pass for the hiking

You can find the Adventure Pass at the Big Bear Visitor Center.

Michael Holding

Michael is an outdoor adventurer and a kayaking enthusiast who loves to share his experiences with others. He is the Chief Editor at XgearHub.

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