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Trails

The Best Hiking and Biking Trails in Big Bear Lake

Here’s our top picks for the most popular and best hiking and mountain biking trails in Big Bear. All Big Bear hiking trails are pet-friendly.

An Adventure Pass is required for parking at U.S. Forest Service trailheads. Adventure Passes are available at the Big Bear Discovery Center and the Big Bear Visitors Center. 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.


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A prepared couple explores a hiking trail in Big Bear Lake, CA



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

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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 with sprinklings of wildflowers and Serrano campground. 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.


Woodland Interpretive Trail - 1.5 mile loop - Easy

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A unique nature trail with 16 posted stops. Pick up a brochure at the trailhead and 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 hiking trail in Big Bear is a popular trail for dog walking and it’s great for kids.


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


Champion Lodgepole Pine Trail - .6 mile one-way - Easy

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A pleasant 30-45 minute hike through a lush forest to Bluff Meadows and one of the largest Lodgepole Pine trees in the world. Hike alongside a seasonal stream and see colorful wildflowers popping up along the trail in Spring and Summer months. 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 by driving up Mill Creek Road (Forest Road 2N10-dirt road) for 4.5 miles, then turning right on 2N11 and continue 1 mile to the trailhead.


Note: Vehicles with high ground clearance recommended.


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

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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.


Pine Knot Trail - 6 miles round trip - Intermediate

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Pineknot Trail begins at the base of Aspen Glen Picnic Area, just south of Mill Creek Road. The trail winds through stands of white fir and Jeffrey pine, oaks and manzanita; crosses the road at the 2N08, skirts alongside the Deer Group Camp and you wind up at the 2N10 where another sign will point you to Grandview Point. Follow this trail for another quarter mile to top out at 7,784’ with spectacular views of Mt. San Gorgonio. Lots of up and down on this trail with beautiful forest views.

Avid hikers make the round-trip hike in three hours or less. Families can pack in a picnic and have a wonderful half-day adventure. MTB riders can take Cabin 89 Trail from the same picnic area for a thrilling MTB experience.

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


Cougar Crest Trail - 4- 5.5 miles - Intermediate/Difficult

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

The first mile of this hiking and biking 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.


Grandview Loop Bike Trail - 9 miles - Beginner/Intermediate

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A popular novice low consequence and low risk mountain biking ride is one that starts by taking the Snow Summit Scenic Sky Chair up to the top of the mountain, and then proceeds by way of the Skyline Trail to Grandview Point Junction. This mountain bike trail is one of the longest, at 7.5 miles. There will be a fork in the trail where you have the option to ride 2.5 miles to Grandview Point and take in the stunning views of San Gorgonio or to continue home..

Note: Dogs are allowed on the trail, but not on the Scenic Sky Chair. Be aware that MTB trail users can take you by surprise, so use your best judgement if you’re taking along a four-legged friend.


Grout Bay Loop Bike Trail - 13 miles - Intermediate

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This mountain bike trail starts with a short, paved climb from the Fawnskin Fire Station up to 3N14. Continue 2.5 miles to Hanna Flat campground. From there, Grout Bay Trail starts at the back of the camp and starts climbing. The trail climbs and descends, ending your ride back in Fawnskin.


John Bull Loop Bike Trail - 14.9 miles - Advanced/Expert

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To complete this loop you'll need stamina and basic navigation skills. Start at Van Dusen Canyon Rd. (3N09) and ride 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 technical riding 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 - Beginner/Intermediate

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The 15-mile, iconic Skyline Trail spans the South Shore of Big Bear, running along a ridge that parallels Forest Service road 2N10. To the south you catch views of Mt. San Gorgonio and to the north you catch glimpses of the lake. Ride the entire length to test your endurance or use various trails and roads to head north, back to town.



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Map of the hiking and mountain biking trails in Big Bear Lake, CA



More Big Bear Hiking and Mountain Biking Trail Information

Adventure Pass Info

This is essentially a parking pass required for U.S. Forest Service trailheads. If there is a paved parking lot with restrooms, you will need an Adventure Pass to park in the lot. (Available at the Big Bear Visitor Center, 630 Bartlett Rd. or the Big Bear Discovery Center, 40971 North Shore Dr.)

Quick Hiking Tips for Big Bear Lake:

  • Fully charge your cell phone prior to hiking or biking, especially if you are going solo.
  • Wear proper footwear. Blisters and sore feet are no fun while hiking.
  • Bring plenty of water. There is no potable drinking water on the trails.
  • The UV rays are stronger at this elevation. Take a hat and plenty of sunscreen.
  • Pack it in/Pack it out. Keep our forests clean. (This means ‘doggie doo’ bags too.)
  • Bring a first aid kit with bandages, first aid tape/duct tape, benadryl and first aid ointment.
  • Also good to have in your pack are a whistle, matches, a flashlight and some high-energy snacks.
  • Always let someone you trust know where you are going and when you expect to be back. Find out when the sun sets and allow yourself plenty of time to get back before dark.
  • Animal encounter safety tips.
  • BackCountry Navigator TOPO GPS or Gaia GPS - Great Apps for your Android or IPhone if you like to spend time exploring new areas with unfamiliar terrain.

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