As a Southern Californian, one of my favorite summertime spots is Big Bear Lake, just a couple of hours from Los Angeles. Up in the San Bernardino Mountains, the air is clear, the temperatures are cooler, and it is a peaceful getaway from Los Angeles.
My two favorite easy hikes near Big Bear Lake:
Castle Rock Trail: 2.4 miles, round trip. Park alongside Highway 18 about a mile east of Big Bear Dam. The beginning of the trailhead is marked on the south side of the road, and the trail begins an immediate steep climb. Most of the total 500 feet elevation gain of the hike is in the first half mile, so be sure to pace yourself. The trail is not well marked, and there are several paths up to “Castle Rock”, the granite rock outcropping that provides beautiful views of Big Bear Lake.
- Pine Knot Trail: 6 miles, round trip. Park at the Aspen Glen Picnic Area, near the end of Mill Creek Road on the south side of the lake. There are two trails, one called Cabin, the other called Pine Knot. Be sure to start out heading east if you want to hike the Pine Knot Trail! The trail is well marked and leads to a beautiful lookout at Grand View Point, where you can enjoy vistas of Jeffery pine trees, rolling mountains, San Gorgonio Peak, and in the far distance on a clear day you can spot the Saddleback Mountains in Orange County. Lookout for mountain bikers on the trail!