We've done a lot of hiking in the big bear area so we thought we'd share some of our favorite trails with you! Big Bear has a trail for everyone: from easy meandering routes through pines and wildflowers to steep challenging trails that climb up to the area's highest peaks. So don't forget to pack your hiking shoes and poles!
Here are a few of our top picks for hiking Big Bear:
Cougar Crest Trail1E22 - 4 miles - A perfect beginner trail, Cougar Crest starts at the Big Bear Discovery Center on the north side of Big Bear Lake (two miles west of Stanfield Cutoff). This hike is an easy to moderate 2 miles up to the junction of with Pacific Crest Trail, which is a good turnaround point with some shade and breathtaking views providing a perfect lunch spot! Another 2 miles back down the trail and you'll arrive back at your car with the feeling of accomplishment. The views on this trail are fabulous, probably the best of all the hikes we've done in Big Bear, and the park service has even installed a couple of wood benches along the way to sit and relax on. Total elevation gain is around 1,000 feet so it's no walk in the park, and this trail can be very hot in summer months with little shade so be sure to bring plenty of water. Overall this hike is very rewarding and there are excellent opportunities for viewing wild flowers in May and June. Should you want to extend your hike, we recommend continuing along the West end of Pacific Crest Trail at the junction, or if you're willing to brave a rough and rocky road, hike the truck trail to the right of the junction to get to Bertha Peak.
Castle Rock Trail 1W03 - 2 miles - This is a "short but sweet" easy to moderate hike located on the south west end of Big Bear Lake near the Big Bear dam along Highway 38. This well traveled trail is compacted from lots of use and leads you through pines, white fir and cedar conifers to the beautiful rock formation known as Castle Rock at the top, popular with rock climbers. On a side note, you can tell the cedar trees by their smell (mmmm!) and the small round blue-green berries found on them and their unique bark, consisting of thin reddish-gray strips vs. the brown-gray bark with vertical ridges found on spruces. Although short, the trail climbs 600ft in one mile. Hiking shoes are recommended. Parking can be a bit challenging since there is no official trailhead parking lot (you park on the side of the road so no adventure pass is required). Also be careful when crossing the highway!
Gray's Peak 1W06 - 6.5 miles - Probably our all-time favorite trail, Gray's Peak is a moderate 6 1/2 mile hike on a well traveled single track trail. Over the 3 mile hike to the top you'll climb a modest 1,000 ft to reach a beautiful lookout called Gray's Peak, giving you a wonderful view of the west end of Big Bear Lake. There are is a lot of shade on the trail to keep you cool in the warmer summer months. The trailhead is located about a half mile West of Fawnskin along Highway 38. Note that this trail is closed from Nov 1 to Apr 1 for the Bald Eagle nesting season. See the USFS's website for current conditions and the status of the trail.
More Hikes in the Big Bear Area
In case you want to learn more about hiking in the big bear area, here are a few of our favorite websites:
Seven Summits of Big Bear - Learn about the 7 highest peaks in the big bear, from