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Hiking & Top Trails

Choose Your Route & Let the Adventure Begin!

Each Big Bear trail offers a unique take on the San Bernardino National Forest. From wooded walks, to expansive vistas, and from lush meadow scenery to panoramic summit views, there's something to marvel at on any hike or bike ride.

Adventure Passes

An Adventure Pass is required for parking at U.S. Forest Service trailheads. Daily Passes are available at the Big Bear Visitors Center, however if you have an America the Beautiful (National Park) Pass, you can use that instead. Just leave it on your dashboard before you head out on the trail.

Trail Use & Recreation

Most of the National Forest trails listed below allow for mountain bikes and horseback riding. Trails where these modes of transportation are prohibited are noted. Motorbikes are not permitted on any of the below trails, please see link for areas designated to motorbikes, 4X4s, and OHVs.

San Bernardino National Forest - OHV Riding & Camping (usda.gov)

Three hikers in the Big Bear forest during fall

Hiking Safety & Preparation

While enjoying the National Forest trails, there are a few points you should remember to keep your journey safe, fun, and sustainable:

  • When hiking, mountain biking, or snowshoeing stick to well-marked and established trails.
  • Carry a map with you and plan your route before you venture off. Pick up maps at our Visitor Center.
  • Tell someone where you're going and carry a phone to access help if necessary.
  • In winter, if there is snow, hiking trails on the North Shore are best. The snow melts faster and trails are more accessible.
  • Always yield to uphill hikers, bikers, and horseback riders.
  • Take plenty of water, dress appropriately, where sturdy hiking boots, and use sunscreen.
  • Pack it in, pack it out! Don't litter the forest!

Discover Top Trails!

Click to Enlarge

Happy Hills Trail - .2 miles one-way - Very Easy

Added in 2017, this ADA friendly route allows anyone to enjoy Big Bear’s trails system! The fenced and fully-paved path begins from the City Hall parking lot. Trail users can admire historical buildings and protected wildlife along the .2 mile stretch and picnic at any one of the numerous tables along the way.

Alpine Pedal Path - 2.5 miles one-way - Very Easy

This paved path meanders along the north shore of Big Bear Lake with spectacular views of the ski resorts on the south shore. See beautiful alpine meadows, juniper and pine forests, and seasonal wildflowers. This route passes by the Serrano campground and Meadows Edge picnic area. Have the kids watch for lizards, squirrels and chipmunks along the way. This hiking path is easily accessible for hikers, bikers, joggers, strollers and wheelchairs. It starts at Stanfield Cutoff and ends at the Solar Observatory.

Maple Hills Trails - Easy

This trail system is on private property and public use is dependent upon responsible behavior. Access these trails from Shore Drive or just north of Big Bear High School.

Bikers must yield to hikers and horses and hikers to horses. Motorized vehicles not permitted and dogs must be kept on a leash and/or strictly controlled by command. All pet waste must be removed and all trail users agree to respect wildlife and refrain from littering.

Stanfield Marsh Boardwalk - Very Easy

This walking route takes visitors through the Stanfield Marsh Wildlife and Waterfowl Preserve which offers refuge to Big Bear's avian population. Take time to read through the info boards to learn about the Valley's diverse ecosystems and be sure to being your camera! Park at the corner of Big Bear Blvd and Stanfield Cutoff. Minimal parking is available for this route so you may want to gauge crowding before choosing to stop by.

Woodland Interpretive Trail - 1.5 mile loop - Easy

This unique nature trail includes an interactive guide with 16 posted stops. Pick up a brochure at the trailhead to take a self-guided tour to learn about the botany, geology and wildlife of this woodland area! There are boulder outcroppings for the kids to climb on and some nice views of the lake. This trail in Big Bear is a popular for biking, horseback riding, dog walking, and introducing little ones to the wonders of nature!

Note: This trailhead parking lot requires an Adventure Pass or an America the Beautiful Pass.

Towne Trail - 2.5 mil loop - Easy

Beginning from the Snow Summit base area, Towne Trail weaves through Big Bear’s south side woodlands with views of the north shore and the lake. This easy route is ideal for beginner mountain bikers as well! When the trail forks at 2N08, you can loop back for a 2.5 mile round trip, take a left and head up to catch other trails, or take a right and head down the fire road to Knickerbocker Road near The Village. This trail is especially breathtaking in the fall with all the autumn colors!

Champion Lodgepole Trail - .6 miles one way - Easy

This is a pleasant 30-45 minute hike through a lush forest to Bluff Meadows and Lake and one of the largest Lodgepole Pine trees in the world! Hike alongside a seasonal stream and see colorful wildflowers in Spring and Summer. Bright green ferns cover the forest floor as you approach Bluff Meadows and the wide-open spaces are filled with corn lilies and damselflies. This hiking and biking trail begins at Mill Creek Road (Forest Road 2N10-dirt road) and continues for 4.5 miles, then turns right on 2N11 and continues for 1 mile to the trailhead.

Note: Vehicles with high ground clearance recommended. Adventure Passes or America the Beautiful Passes are required.

Castle Rock Trail - 2.4 miles round-trip - Intermediate/Difficult

Castle Rock Trail is Big Bear's most popular trail. Densely forested with boulder outcroppings and a seasonal waterfall, this is a gorgeous hike any time of year. The seasonal creek in the Spring and the autumn leaves in the Fall make this a favorite hiking trail for locals and visitors. Castle Rock itself is an impressive granite outcropping with panoramic views of Big Bear Lake. You may get to watch rock climbers scaling the steeper side as you make your way around Castle Rock. This trail has a steep climb that will get your heart pumping for the first half-mile and then levels out as you make your way towards Castle Rock. The trail begins 1-mile east of Big Bear Dam on Hwy 18. On the south side of Hwy 18 is a small brown sign that marks the trailhead. Park at the turnout along Hwy 18. Note: No bikes on this trail.

Pine Knot Trail - 6 miles round trip - Intermediate

Pine Knot Trail begins at the Aspen Glen Picnic Area on Mill Creek Road. The trail winds through stands of white fir and Jeffrey pine, oaks and manzanita; crosses the 2N08 and skirts alongside the Deer Group Camp. You'll end up at the 2N10 where you can hop on the Grandview Point trail for a .25 mile walk to the top for spectacular views of Mt. San Gorgonio.

Experienced hikers make the round-trip in 3 hours or less. Families can pack in a picnic and have a wonderful half-day adventure. MTB riders can take the trails (or Cabin 89 Trail) from the same picnic area for a thrilling single-track experience!

Note: Adventure Pass or an America the Beautiful Pass required.

Cougar Crest Trail - 4 - 5.5 mile loop- Intermediate/Difficult

Travel through a variety of natural environments and see everything from towering pine trees, to twisting Junipers, to red-barked manzanita, and spiny cactus. You may see bobcats or lizards, and always remember to keep an eye out for rattlesnakes!

The first mile of this hiking trail is a gentle uphill climb, then you start really gaining altitude. Beautiful lake views and benches for resting are near the top. The Cougar Crest Trail ends at the junction of the world-famous 2,600-mile long Pacific Crest Trail.

From here you can continue to Bertha Peak. Another steep .75 mile hike takes you to the top where you get sweeping views of Big Bear Valley and the high desert. Cougar Crest Trail starts .6 miles west of the Discovery Center on Hwy 38.

Note: Adventure Pass or America the Beautiful Pass Required. You can park for free along the highway.

Grandview Trail - 9 miles - Beginner/Intermediate

A popular novice trail for hiking and biking, this adventure starts at Snow Summit with a ride on the Scenic Sky Chair to the top of the mountain. You'll follow the Skyline Trail to Grandview Point Junction. This will be a longer trek, about 7.5 miles. There will be a fork in the trail where you have the option to go 2.5 miles to Grandview Point or loop back.

Note: Dogs are not allowed on the Scenic Sky Chair. Be aware that bikers on the trail can take you by surprise, so stay alert!

Grout Bay Loop Bike Trail - 13 miles - Intermediate

This hike and bike trail starts from the trail head parking lot, or you can head the opposite way from the Fawnskin Fire Station up to 3N14 to Hanna Flat campground and catch the trail there. Either way, the trail climbs and descends through a range of landscapes. Rattlesnakes can inhabit the area so be alert!

Note: Adventure Pass or America the Beautiful Pass required.

John Bull Loop Trail - 14.9 miles - Advanced/Expert

To complete this loop you'll need stamina and basic navigation skills. Start at Van Dusen Canyon Rd. (3N09) and head up 3.5 miles to Holcomb Valley to 3N16 turn left, to 3N07 turn right, to 3N43 turn left to "The John Bull Trail" (3N10). It's about 3 miles of venturing before you come to 3N32. Turn right to 3N16, take another right at 3N09 which will lead you back to your starting point.

The Skyline Trail - 15 miles loop - Beginner/Intermediate

The 15-mile iconic Skyline Trail spans the mountainous ridge of the South Shore of Big Bear. Much of the trail parallels the 2N10. To the south you'll catch views of Mt. San Gorgonio and to the north you see glimpses of the lake. Hike or ride the entire length to test your endurance or use various trails and roads to head back to town.

Bluff Lake Reserve – The Wildlands Conservancy - .08 mile loop - Very Easy

Nestled in the forest is a pristine 80-acre preserve owned and managed by The Wildlands Conservancy. Explore the trail winding around a protected 20-acre alpine lake and meadow surrounded by a forest of towering Lodgepole Pines, Jeffrey Pines and White Fir. Crawl up on the boulders to get a peek at the historic home site of the original settlers at Bluff Lake and the log cabin built for their minister. Open mid-May through Mid-November. Pets on leash welcome. Notes: No Bikes

Gold Fever Trail - Self-Guided Driving Tour - 12.3 miles

Go at your own pace on this easy off-road adventure through Holcomb Valley. This scenic route takes you through an area that was thriving with activity during the gold rush of the 1860’s. At 12 selected markers you can get out of your vehicle and walk to the sites. See abandoned mines, grave sites and more. Stop at the Big Bear Visitor Center for brochures and info. Great family adventure. Pets on leash welcome.