Ready yourself with a good set of shoes (snowshoes if necessary!) a water bottle, sunblock, and hat, and let Big Bear’s thousands of acres of wilderness take care of the rest!
The Big Bear Valley offers numerous trails throughout the National Forest. Pick up a trail map when you visit the Big Bear Visitor Center and ask the friendly staff for recommendations and tips! Hiking in the National Forest is free, but parking at trail heads requires an Adventure Pass from the U.S. Forest Service. These can be purchased as the Visitor Center as well.
As John Muir said, "In every walk with nature, one receives far more than he seeks." Hikers will be treated to stunning scenery in lush meadows and panoramic views from high peaks. Wildlife abounds from the forest floor to the air and the forests offer a peacefulness rarely found anywhere else.
Discover Top Trails!
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.
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.
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.
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: This trailhead parking lot requires an Adventure Pass or an America the Beautiful Pass.
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: This trailhead parking lot requires an Adventure Pass or an America the Beautiful Pass. You can park for free in the Discovery Center parking lot and take their paved path over to the trailhead. No bikes on this trail!
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: Parking at the trail head parking lot requires an Adventure Pass or America the beautiful Pass.
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