5 Best Hiking Trails in Big Bear: Our Guide

best hiking trails in big bear

Hiking in Big Bear offers one of the best ways to see and enjoy its natural beauty when you visit.

This California mountain town boasts more than 100 miles of hiking trails, with tranquil walks through lush forests and meadows, panoramic Big Bear city views, breath-taking vistas of the San Bernardino Mountains, Big Bear Lake, sunrises and sunsets, and more.

In this post, we share some of the top hiking trails in Big Bear for you to conquer on your next vacation — covering trails for every skill level, from easy strolls to strenuous hikes. We’ll also give tips on how to organize your hike and be safe while on the trails.

Let’s begin!

Best Easy Big Bear Hiking Trails

  • Alpine Pedal Path

This popular 5.2 mi (8.4 km) out-and back paved hiking trail follows Big Bear Lake’s north coast; however, at points you’ll be hiking more through the trees than next to the lake. 

Since it’s largely flat, it is ideal for everyone, including families with young children, first-time hikers, and anyone looking for a leisurely walk with beautiful scenery.

On this excursion, which takes around 1 hour and 45 minutes to complete, you’ll get up-close views of the Big Bear mountains and lake, lovely woodland landscapes, and scenic ski resorts on the south shore. Ask your kids to keep an eye out for lizards, eagles, squirrels and chipmunks if you’re taking them along!

There are many benches overlooking the lake on the Alpine Pedal Path – so you’ve got options to rest if you get tired or sit down to take in the scenery – and several bathrooms.

The trail also has picnic areas, so pack a snack to eat at the picnic tables, plus plenty of access spots that allow you to walk down to the Big Bear lakeshore. 

Depending on the time of year you go, you’ll meet lots of walkers, joggers, skaters, cyclists, etc., but people tend to be courteous and share the space. Dogs are permitted on the Alpine Pedal Path, but they must be leashed.

  • Jenks Lake Trail

The San Bernardino National Forest is home to the 3.1 mi (5 km) long Jenks Lake Trail.

The scenic, clearly marked trail starts with a path that takes you to Jenks Lake, which is surrounded by pine forest, and there’s then a loop trail that circles the lake. 

Due to the abundance of fish in the lake, Jenks Lake Trail is well-liked by anglers, especially during the summer. Picnic tables and modest restrooms are located along the laid-back trail, which takes around 90 minutes from start to finish.

Jenks Lake Trail is accessible year-round; however, you should exercise caution if you hike here in the winter, because pathways may be slippery and less visible. 

Similar to the Alpine Pedal Path, you’re welcome to hike with your dog on the trail, but will need to keep them leashed.

On this hike, we suggest to bring bug repellent in case mosquitoes along the way are bothersome.

Popular Big Bear Intermediate Hiking Trails

If you prefer a Big Bear hiking trail that’s more challenging than the first two we’ve covered, try the following:

  • Pine Knot Trail

This trail ends at Grand View Point, a peak that offers a bird’s-eye view of Big Bear Lake and incredible vistas of the snow-capped San Gorgonio Mountain. It begins at the Aspen Glen Picnic Area and is also located in the San Bernardino National Forest.

It takes seasoned hikers 3 hours or less to finish the 6.9-mile (11.1 km) trail, which is primarily uphill and includes a diversity of terrain. Pine Knot Trail’s well-maintained route makes it a favorite among Big Bear mountain bikers in addition to hikers. So if you see cyclists zooming down the trail, don’t be alarmed.

To access Pine Knot Trail, you’ll need an Adventure Pass, which you can purchase from the Big Bear Discovery Center. The cost of the pass is $5 per day or $30 for an annual pass.

Altitude sickness has been experienced by several hikers when ascending Pine Knot Trail. If this happens to you, stop climbing or wait until altitude sickness symptoms pass before continuing your hike.

  • Castle Rock Trail

Castle Rock Trail is one of the most hiked locations in Big Bear, but it’s not for the timid.

Even veteran hikers find this trail to be hard due to its rocky terrain and steep climbs that begin right away.

It takes on average one and a half hours to finish this 2.7-mile (4.3 km) trail, which will reward your effort to get to its summit with some of the best views of Big Bear Lake, the surrounding mountains, and forests.

On a sunny day, the numerous pine trees that line the clearly marked trail offer shade. A stunning waterfall can be discovered along the way in the spring.

We recommend you visit Castle Rock Trail in the morning because it can get very busy later in the day, particularly on weekends, and finding parking may be a problem. Dogs are allowed and can roam in some areas, however, bikes are not permitted on the trail.

Most Difficult Big Bear Hiking Trails

  • Sugarloaf Mountain Trail

The highest point in Big Bear Valley is Sugarloaf Mountain’s summit, which is 9,952 feet high.

The rocky dirt trail to the summit and back is around 12 miles (19 km) long and steadily steep until the end, when you’ll encounter a brief descent before going uphill again. In all, it’s one of the toughest hikes you may attempt in Big Bear. The sense of accomplishment you experience after conquering Big Bear’s highest peak, though, makes it worth the challenge.

There aren’t any outstanding panoramas at the summit because it’s covered by trees, but picturesque vistas of the San Bernardino Mountains in the distance and Big Bear Valley below can be seen along the way. Several abandoned mines are also located off the path.

Rarely crowded, the Sugarloaf Mountain Trail typically takes 5–7 hours to complete. 

Before undertaking the hike, ensure you have enough water and snacks. Wearing shoes with a sturdier sole will also make it easier for you to navigate the rocky terrain of Sugarloaf Mountain.

The 17.7 km (11 miles) Skyline, Plantation, 7 Oaks, one of the longest Trails in Big Bear Lake, and Hanna Flat Campground Trail are other challenging hiking trails in Big Bear that you might want to explore.

Sky High Cabins: #1 in Big Bear Cabin Rentals & Management

Need lodging for your next trip to Big Bear? Experience the best accommodation our mountain town has to offer by renting a cabin from Sky High Cabins, and you’ll also save on the fees that Airbnb, Vrbo and other vacation rental sites charge

You can browse an extensive selection of cabins here – including lakeside cabins, luxurious cabins, and pet-friendly cabins – all of which are conveniently close to the best hiking trails, fishing spots, ski slopes, stores, restaurants and more attractions. 

All Sky High Cabins properties are kept in great condition, and we have a dedicated team ready to provide personalized service to make your time in Big Bear unforgettable.

Reserve your Big Bear vacation cabin on our booking site today, call us at 909-366-0706 or fill out our online contact form if you have any questions about renting a holiday cabin in Big Bear. We’re happy to help!

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