hikes in San Bernardino National Forest
San Bernardino National Forest encompases a vast area of 823,816 acres of wild land, which is largely split into two separate mountainous regions. These consist of the San Bernardino and San Gabriel Mountains of the Transverse Range, as well as the Santa Rosa and San Jacinto Mountains of the Peninsular Range, which make for a rugged, yet truly beautiful landscape that begs to be explored. With plenty of charming lakes, winding rivers, and low-lying valleys to break up the undulating terrain, there is always a new and exciting adventure waiting around every corner.
With its close proximity to several high population areas in Southern California, the San Bernardino National Forest is one of the most popular hiking destinations in the entire state. Featuring hundreds of miles of hiking trails (including the world-renowned Pacific Crest Trail), beautifully scenic mountain peaks, seven designated wilderness areas, and forty-seven Yellow Post campsites, there are nearly endless possibilities when it comes to exploring this vast and beautiful part of So Cal.
10 Amazing Hiking Routes In San Bernardino National Forest
The diverse landscape of the San Bernardino National Forest includes rugged mountain peaks, great expanses of woodland terrain, sprawling deserts, and beautiful lakes, making it perfectly suited for exploration on foot. Not only are there plenty of terrain types that will keep you busy for countless hours, but there are trails that suit every age and skill level. So whether you are a seasoned trekker looking to navigate backcountry mountain paths, or are setting out with the family for a low key creekside adventure, you can check out the below list of amazing hiking routes in San Bernardino National Forest for inspiration.
- Deep Creek Hot Springs Trail: A fantastic hiking route in San Bernardino National Forest, this trail will lead you through a stretch of desert terrain to reach a series of relaxing thermal pools set along the expanse of Deep Creek.
- The Living Desert Wilderness Loop Trail: Featuring beautifully scenic views overlooking the Coachella Valley and access to the nearby zoo, this hiking route is perfectly suited for a great family-friendly adventure.
- Bonita Falls Trail: While the Bonita Falls Trail may be a bit on the short side, it is an exceptional route that features easy-going terrain and wonderful views looking out onto a cascading waterfall.
- Jenks Lake Trail: For those adventurers that are after a relaxing forest walk with views of a scenic lake, the Jenks Lake Trail is the perfect route that can be enjoyed with the entire family.
- Castle Rock Trail: The Castle Rock Trail is a steep hiking route in the Big Bear Lake area of San Bernardino National Forest that will lead you uphill to a rocky vantage point with gorgeous views overlooking the water.
- Heart Rock Trail: Another quick and easy family-friendly hike, the Heart Rock Trail is a lovely adventure through the forest that will take you to a viewpoint looking onto the Seely Creek Falls and an interesting weathered rock depression in the shape of a heart.
- Bear Lake Woodland Trail: A lovely interpretive trail in the San Bernardino National Forest, this hike will see you traverse a short loop along laidback terrain that features informative signs to learn about the flora and fauna of the surrounding area.
- Bertha Peak Trail: This amazing route will lead you up the rugged terrain of the Cougar Crest Trail in order to summit Bertha Peak, where you will experience wonderful views overlooking Big Bear Lake.
- Pine Knot Trail to Grand View Point Hike: Another great route in the Big Bear Lake area, this trail will take you uphill through some beautiful stretches of forest and meadow to access the stunning lookout at Grand View Point that offers sweeping views of the surrounding landscape.
- Champion Lodgepole Hike: This is a fantastic hiking route in the Big Bear Lake area that will lead you up the steep trail past Castle Rock and Bluff Lake to visit a tall Lodgepole Pine that is estimated to be around 450 years old.
When is the Best Time to Hike in San Bernardino National Forest?
Many of the hiking trails within San Bernardino National Forest are accessible year-round; however, some - particularly those that are at higher elevations in the mountains - are not suitable in the winter. If you are looking to get the most out of your hiking excursion in the wild expanse of the San Bernardino National Forest, try timing your trip for the spring to autumn seasons when the weather is most favourable.
Other Outdoor Activities in the San Bernardino National Forest
With hundreds of miles of recreational trails in the area, hiking is certainly one of the most popular activities in the San Bernardino National Forest; however, there are a wide variety of things to do outdoors if you are hoping for a different experience. In the summer, popular adventures include cycling, camping, horseback riding, fishing, hunting, and wildlife viewing, as well as water sports like kayaking, canoeing, and paddleboarding. For those who prefer the winter months, alpine activities like skiing, snowboarding, snowshoeing, and even snowmobiling are available in the higher elevations of the nearby mountains.
Fantastic Adventure Tours Near the San Bernardino National Forest
While there are countless hiking trails within the boundary of the San Bernardino National Forest that are just waiting to be explored, the sheer number of options can sometimes make planning a fun hiking trip a bit confusing or complicated. If you want to visit the area but don’t want to deal with all the fuss of planning a trip, why not check out these amazing adventure tours in California and leave all of the small details to the adventure travel professionals.
Frequently Asked Questions About the San Bernardino National Forest
Is camping permitted in San Bernardino National Forest?
There are a wide variety of options for camping within the boundaries of San Bernardino National Forest, including 47 Yellow Post Campsites that are free.
What animals can be found in the San Bernardino National Forest?
The vast expanse of the San Bernardino National Forest is home to over 440 species of wildlife, including spotted owls, flying squirrels, and black bears, although the latter are not native to the region.
Are dogs permitted in the San Bernardino National Forest?
Yes, dogs are permitted on hiking trails within San Bernardino National Forest, although they must be kept on a leash at all times.
Find other fantastic hiking regions in the CaliforniaRead More
The best hikes in San Bernardino National Forest
Yes, there are more than 10
San Bernardino National Forest is so beautiful that we can not give you only 10 hikes. So here is a list of bonus hikes in San Bernardino National Forest that you should take a look at as well
The 2N13 Trail: Green Valley Campground to Fawnskin is a fun adventure through the San… Read More
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