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Champion Lodgepole via Castle Rock Trail

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San Bernardino National Forest

Champion Lodgepole via Castle Rock Trail is a 4.5 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.

Distance: 4.5 miles Elevation Gain: 265 feet Route Type: Loop

dog friendly

hiking

nature trips

forest

lake

views

wildlife

historic site

This hike takes you to the worlds largest lodgepole. If you have more than an hour then 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.

hiking
5 days ago

Beautiful!! The first mile and half is really tough. We did it in sneakers but now wish we had hiking boots. The reserve is incredibly beautiful, and worth the challenge up.

hiking
7 days ago

So beautiful! Loved lake at top and rocks to climb on to see views. Tough first mile but then it gets easier and it’s pretty flat. Went on a Saturday at 10 and couldn’t find parking, but came back Sunday at 7:30 am and no problem. Backed into spot on street going down mountain. That made it easier to exit without danger. Be cautious in parking areas- small shoulder and blind spots when getting to trail head.

hiking
off trail
rocky
10 days ago

hiking
19 days ago

Beautiful trail. Castle Rock trail is pretty steep with a lot of rock "stairs". From there it can be difficult to find the trail to Bluff Lake. We took a couple wrong turns and ended up making it a 7 mile hike!! But it was all beautiful and we completely enjoyed it. Walked through some controlled burn areas, past some campsites, and along side a green meadow. The Lodgepole tree is impressive and Bluff Lake is beautiful and serene. I would do this again!

Fantastic hike!

hiking
rocky
22 days ago

Super pretty! Would totally do it again!

Very steep and intense at the beginning, and pretty crowded. About a mile in, it’s not so steep and very pretty views.

hiking
26 days ago

Love this trail. Went on a Friday morning and had no trouble finding parking. Finding the trail head was easy, but the trail itself wasn’t always easy to follow. In the beginning, I was tracking people’s footprints in the dirt, trying to figure out where I was supposed to go. Note: first you follow the cairns (pillars of rock) and then the white flags and then the yellow signs. By the time you get to the yellow signs, though it’s smooth sailing. Despite the challenges, though, this is my favorite trail. It’s so beautiful and peaceful and you still get a good workout. Bluff lake was gorgeous and well worth the effort. I will definitely be doing this hike again!

hiking
29 days ago

Gorgeous preserve!!! Loved it! Trail from Castle Rock was hard to find, but once we did it was a distinct path up to the lake. Old cabin with picnic table up there. Serene **** It’s super busy on weekends. We went around 8am on a Monday and it was perfect!

hiking
off trail
rocky
1 month ago

The lake was very chill and scenery and it was not crowded on Monday morning. Make sure to go early as it's hard to find parking if you go around noon. It's also easy to get lost on the way back as you might see a couple of different directions.

This trail was very busy all the way to castle rock, it’s manageable but be aware that it is heavily trafficked and difficult to distance on.

Highly recommended. There’s a controlled burn through a portion of it, and Bluff Lake is a great end to it prior to heading back home

hiking
1 month ago

Beautiful hike! Trail maintenance doing a great job building cairns to make the trail easier to follow. Bluff Lake is such a pretty little lake. Ducks were flying in and out. A great place to picnic and enjoy the outdoors.

rocky
1 month ago

Oh it was so pretty, and fresh. It did have a good amount of other hikers. So its not too quiet of a hike at least not at 1st, but it's still relaxing overall.

Beginning on the trail is very hard to follow. Other than that great hike!

hiking
rocky
scramble
2 months ago

Parking - is along the street. Right at the trail head, there's room for around 10 cars. But, if you drive a bit to especially the East on Hwy 18, there are more parking spots not far away (again along side the road). The first .8 miles is largely steep. You climb about 600 feet in just .8 miles. There has been effort to give folks options (slopes, rocks and stones, and in fact both wooden and rock "stairs". Trail signage could be better, so I recommend having a track (e.g. on your phone from Alltrails (it's free). Most people were not wearing masks, and there will be brief close encounters. At the lake: It's nice and full, and a decent mountain lake. It's hard to circumvent the lake because the Eastern "meadow" is still boggy and wet. We were able to cross it, but had to go around 1000 feet to the east (about mid meadow) before we could get across without getting our boots wet. There was a slightly challenging stream we had to cross on the west side of the lake (I think Siberia Creek). We did try but failed to take the Siberia Creek Trail, but be aware, you have to cross onto "Private Property" to do so. All and all, a nice hike with some minor challenges.

hiking
2 months ago

It was beautiful, but the trail is often poorly marked. I got lost multiple times and added miles to the hike. Ended up in marsh lands getting my shoes wet. Had to take off my shoes and roll up my pants to wade through a stream... The trail that is clear is great, but it is very easy to get off the trail and into no mans land

hiking
2 months ago

5/3/20 No snow on the trail to the lake. Nice hike. Scenic lake.

hiking
snow
2 months ago

Late post hiked on 4/20 Went from castle rock to bluff lake. Had to cross over with lots of snow. Be careful there was allot of deep snow. Had to use a map to make sure we were on the trail. Overall a beautiful trail!

hiking
icy
muddy
private property
snow
4 months ago

Hiked on 6 March: This trail is very enjoyable! Definitely one of my favorites in Big Bear. South lake side hiking in March yielded perfect weather for a comfortable hike. I like this trail because the trees, creek and coverage are gorgeous, while also opening up to interesting bouldering spots and wide open spaces to spread out and explore. The trail is sometimes hard to find without the AllTrails app, but luckily my dog is great at keeping us on track. Crampons and gortex hiking boots were paramount for an enjoyable hike for today’s conditions. The parking is very minimal: just a 3-5 car turn-out East of the trailhead and a 1-2 car turn-out West of the trailhead (both on the Eastbound side of the highway), no adventure pass needed. We arrived early at 830 and the day priors snow melt was still frozen over several significant sections of the first 1.5 miles or so. On our way back around noon, we saw a few people managing in tennis shoes but they were scrambling through snow/slush and alternate paths. The views of and from Castle Rock are excellent. The elevation gain and length was great exercise without being extreme. The Bluffs Lake area is closed to vehicle traffic and lake use in the winter, but we were able to walk around it just fine. We didn’t encounter any people, rangers, or signs discouraging us otherwise. It was a nice place to stop and eat before heading back.

hiking
icy
snow
6 months ago

Great trail! Watch out for deep snow and some patches of ice.

hiking
6 months ago

After the snow this was all ice. I would not recommend if you are coming after a snow storm.

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