Champion Lodgepole via Castle Rock Trail

MODERATE 52 reviews

Champion Lodgepole via Castle Rock Trail is a 4.3 mile moderately trafficked loop trail located near Big Bear Lake, California that features a lake and is rated as moderate. The trail is primarily used for hiking and nature trips and is accessible year-round. Dogs are also able to use this trail.

4.3 miles
905 feet

dog friendly


nature trips





This hike takes you to the worlds largest lodgepole. If you have more than an hour and at least a half a day - this is the hike to take in Big Bear. It is easy to get to the Champion Lodgepole. It is over 450 years old and 110 feet tall, a real rarity for this variety of pine. The Wildlands Conservancy's Bluff Lake Reserve is open daily from 8:00 am to 6:00 pm May 1 to November 1. Permission to cross through the reserve is only required when the reserve is closed. Contact (909) 797-8507 for questions.

1 month ago

We tried this trail today and just after the entrance, we encountered the famous steep hill filled with slippery ice, steep enough to make you fall down and slide down. We tried to grab on to branches and rocks but failed miserably. Other two groups tried it as well and couldn't make it past the ice either. This was just the entrance and the trail is supposed to be steep in the first mile.

The trailhead is barely noticeable with a small sign and there's no parking around except on a small curve on the right side coming from Big Bear before getting to the trail. Be sure to buy the Forest Adventure pass before parking.
The terrain around was nice with snow and light hills we explored a bit, made a small snowball fight... but we couldn't go to the trail.

Conclusion: Maybe don't go in winter unless you have steel crampons and a LOT of energy. I'll try again in spring.

4 months ago

Took the whole family including a 6 year old and 9 year old. We have not been actively hiking lately and this was a great trek. The first 1/4 mile is pretty much a straight up incline and at 7000 ft elevation you feel it. After that it was a great day and found a nice picnic spot near the lake.

11 months ago

only made it to the castle rock and climbed up it due to the sun coming down, but this is a cool trail really can't wait to get to the meadow next time.

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

The first part of the trail is a good workout, the view is awesome at Castle Rock and the hike further is a great look at our local forest.

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

AMAZING views! The hike we took led us to Bluff Lake Reserve. The trail is kinda crowded until you get past Castle Rock. When you get to the rock, follow the trail to the left, instead of going right to go behind castle rock. trail levels off and it's beautiful scenery the whole way. Once the trail hits the dirt road, follow the road to the right about a 1/4 mile and the trail will pick back up on your left. It's more like a narrow driving trail. it'll lead you back to the reserve. So beautiful and peaceful back there. Total hike was just over 5 miles round trip. And I'd definitely say it's dog friendly, on a leash until the people thin out past the Rock.

Tuesday, November 07, 2017

We hiked this trail on a weekend trip to big bear. Unlike other reviews, we found it dog friendly (we have a large German Shepard) and kid friendly (we wore him in a pack, but did allow him to walk around at various points). The views are simply stunning!!! Had no issues with parking starting out at 0900, was full by the time we finished. Route allows you to turn around easily if you don’t want to do full distance. Trail near Castle Rock was confusing, otherwise well marked.

Monday, October 30, 2017

Took this hike yesterday with my dogs. NOT DOG FRIENDLY. There is only parking on the busy narrow lanes of hwy 18 that you have to cross without any crosswalks to get to the trail head. I wouldnt consider it very kid friendly either. If you do take your dog I would suggest leaving little dogs at home. The first mile is pretty much just rock steps and my dachshund had a rough time. The trail after that is pretty decent, however the trail ends before the lake and just turns into a road that people speed down and round corners NOT SAFE.

Saturday, September 02, 2017

Awesome. The first part uphill is tough, but it's worth it. You know it's a good hike when you say "wow" out loud... twice.

Sunday, August 06, 2017

Great weather and a great hike with 5 of my friends. Terrain is tough due to climb in elevation for first two miles or so, but push and you'll get through it. Would not recommend taking small children (especially infants!) as a lot of people didn't even make it to Castle Rock with small kids. Dog-friendly (on leash) and beautiful views. If you can do the full 12 miles (6 in and 6 back) it is definitely worth it!

Monday, July 17, 2017

Great hike for the adventures family. My family and I took this hike and really enjoyed it. Walking around bluff lake and taking in the views was worth the steep climb. The beginning of this hike is closer to hard then moderate. Enjoy!

Monday, December 12, 2016

This trail was awesome! once you get to Castle Rock, definitely spend some time there and if possible, rock climb to the highest point to get a beautiful view of big bear lake. we would have been able to get done faster if it wasn't for all the ice on the trail. it made it very difficult to walk through the trail.

tip: once you get to the old highway and veer right to bluff lake, you're going to hit a fork in the road. make sure to head left at the fork to head towards the lake more directly and to the abandoned cabin. there will be a sign that says "locked gate ahead". that means you're heading in the right direction.

Tuesday, November 01, 2016

Love this trail. Great for kids and beautiful in the Fall.

Sunday, September 04, 2016

OMG great Hike

Friday, August 12, 2016

One of my favorite hikes. The meadows are beautiful and if you make it in October, all the ferns are a golden yellow color.
It's a perfect balance of trees and rock. You'll enjoy it.

Tuesday, July 05, 2016

easy trail with beautiful lush green meadows. nice sunset hike and even had a bear cub encounter.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Great views, beautiful lake. Does cross/run along a dirt road near Bluff Lake Reserve, and trail splits quite a bit near Castle Rocks, so just be prepared for some route-finding! Definitely worth it though.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

One of the shortest trails I've done in a while. It starts out steep then levels off. I made a loop going right on 2N85 then left on 2N86, to Champion Lodgepole Pine then around Bluff lake. I also came across an old cabin before meeting back up with the original trail. I did 5.34 miles total and my navigation skills came into play on this network of trails so I highly recommend a map and compass. Overall this was a great hike, we'll worth the effort.

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