Champion Lodgepole Hike
The Champion Lodgepole Hike is a spectacular excursion in the San Bernardino Mountains of California that will see you traverse a steep trail to visit an ancient tree. While out hiking the trail, you will climb uphill past Castle Rock to take in the views, before continuing on to a 450 year old, 34 m tall Lodgepole Pine tree. If you only have time for one hike in the Big Bear Lake area, then this is a great option to take in the wonderful views.
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Route Description for Champion Lodgepole Hike
Although it isn’t an overly challenging route the Champion Lodgepole Hike does feature some steep and rugged terrain that will be difficult for some hikers to traverse. Make sure to wear proper hiking boots and bring poles for stability. Additionally, this is quite a popular route with limited parking at the trailhead, so try to arrive early to secure a space and enjoy some solitude along the trail.
If you enjoy putting in a solid workout to enjoy some beautiful views, then the Champion Lodgepole Hike is the perfect route for you. This trial will see you climb a steep forested hillside with views over Big Bear Lake, before looping around Bluff Lake to visit one of the largest Lodgepole Pine Trees in the world. This is a fantastic trail if you are looking to get out and enjoy the natural beauty of San Bernardino National Forest.
Setting out from the trailhead, you will make your way into the forest to the southeast on the Castle Rock Trail. Here, you will follow closely alongside the banks of Castle Rock Creek, enjoying the sounds of the water and the natural beauty of the forest as you climb up the steep trail.
Keeping to the left along the path, you will pass by the summit of Castle Rock after 0.9 km of hiking and cross over the waters of Castle Rock Creek. If you would like to take a short detour to the summit viewpoint for a spectacular sightline over Big Bear Lake, then follow the path branching off to the right for a short 0.2 km excursion.
If you are simply looking to continue along the main path, keep left after crossing the creek and continue on through the forest for another 0.8 km. Here, you will arrive at a junction and pass straight through, climbing slightly further uphill for 0.3 km to arrive at the edge of Forest Service Road 2N86.
Turning right along the road, you will follow it for a distance of 0.9 km, before branching off to the left along Bluff Mesa Road. After a further 0.3 km, keep left onto the Bluff Mesa Trail and continue on for 0.5 km, where you will arrive at the Champion Lodgepole Pine, an approximately 450 year old tree that stands tall at 34 m.
After taking in the majesty of this beautiful tree, you will follow the trail east for a short distance to quickly arrive at the shores of Bluff Lake. Take your time here as you skirt around the water’s edge to the northeast for 0.8 km, where you will meet back up with the forest service road from earlier in your hike.
Turning right along the road, you will begin to retrace your footsteps back down the mountainside. After turning left onto the path, continue on to the north past Castle Rock Peak on the return leg into the trailhead where you began the Champion Lodgepole Hike.
Big Bear Lake
Situated in the San Bernardino Mountains, Big Bear Lake is the largest recreational lake in Southern California and has a surface area of 2,971 acres. Big Bear Lake has no tributaries feeding into it. Instead, its water level is replenished by melting from the nearby mountain peaks.
Frequently Asked Questions
How tall is the Champion Lodgepole Pine?
The Champion Lodgepole Pine tree in San Bernardino National Forest is 34 m tall.
How old is the Champion Lodgepole Pine Tree?
Located near Bluff Lake in the San Bernardino National Forest, the Champion Lodgepole Pine is estimated to be approximately 450 years old.
Insider Hints for Champion Lodgepole Hike
- Parking near the trailhead can be quite limited, so make sure to arrive early.
- You will need to display an adventure Pass for this hike.
- Make sure to wear proper hiking boots and bring poles to combat the steep terrain.
Getting to the Champion Lodgepole Hike Trailhead
The trailhead for the Champion Lodgepole Hike can be found on CA-18, 1.9 km southeast of Bear Valley Dam.
Champion Lodgepole Hike Elevation Graph
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Champion Lodgepole Hike Reviews
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