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Champion Lodgepole via Castle Rock Trail

MODERATE 96 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.

Distance: 4.3 miles Elevation Gain: 905 feet Route Type: Loop

dog friendly

hiking

nature trips

forest

lake

views

wildlife

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.

Great trail! Had to follow the map at some points to make sure we were in track, but it’s mostly marked. Beautiful views.

hiking
scramble
1 month ago

hiking
3 months ago

Did this hike yesterday morning. Basically we were the only people around which was awesome. The castle rock part was tough for my out of shape ass lol that uphill is no joke and we did manage to get lost for a bit trying to find the trail markers to make our way towards the Lodgepole pine but we figured it out after 15 or so minutes lol this is definitely my favorite hike to date! It’s so serene and beautiful, so many cute frogs! It started to sprinkle and that sound in the forest is one of the best sounds you can listen to. We ate lunch by the lake and enjoyed life. Love this hike.

hiking
4 months ago

My favorite train in the Big Bear area. Download the map to stay on course on the way up due to heavy foot traffic. We added about a mile with wrong turns, but each wrong turn were rewarded with amazing views.

hiking
4 months ago

Love this trail! Went on it last weekend and I can’t wait to get back on it! The first mile or so is heavily trafficked with beginners and teenagers that want to take pictures, but once you get past that, it’s amazing. There’s a poorly marked portion after all the bigger rocks, keep going straight towards the incline and you’ll find the trail again. Bring a lunch and sit on a rock! The view is amazing and Bluffs lake is gorgeous!

5 months ago

Remember when you get to bluff Lake it's private property Operated by the wild lands conservancy. Check out the signs at the entrance on all the do's and don't watch out for rattlesnakes keep your dogs on the leash I remember it is the ecological reserve with many endangered plants and species nesting on the ground it's imperative that everyone stays on the designated trails and paths going through to other trails in on the property. There is a frog migration in the Meadow trail that you can see baby frogs migrating to day. Is open from 9 to 6 there is no entrance fee and there is a ranger on site 24/7 to answer questions during the operating periods.

hiking
5 months ago

very scenic. I was on the trail alone most of the time. there is a little prairie that yout get to before the Lodgepole Pine. the trail moves left once you see the prairie. the ferns waved hello to me!! I ate lunch on a flat rock off the path. I would reccomend. I just need to get back out. I'm still under the pines :)

6 months ago

While going to the lodge Pole from Castle Rock which is us for service public lands have a great time. when you enter Bluff Lake Reserve, please stay on established trails for ecosystems protection, and safety of all. The black Southern Pacific rattlers are moving, saw three yesterday coupled up next to trails in shade. a few bear sightings have been reported. Hours of the lake is 9-6 daily.

Highly recommend recording your way on this app. Most parts of the trail are marked, but some are not. It is very rocky and steep to begin with (Castle Rock trail), but does go into rolling areas and then flat area after the mile and a half, as others have stated. There is some shade throughout the trail to take breaks. Beautiful views of Big Bear Lake on the way up, along with calm streams and small waterfalls. Bluff Lake was such a serene and beautiful reward for making it up there. This is definitely a moderate trail and do not recommend for little ones.

hiking
off trail
6 months ago

Once past Castle Rock and east of Buff Lake lost the trail markers. Good hike still. Busy only until Castle Rock.

hiking
7 months ago

It was great but under quite a bit of water from the snow melt. Great for the dog, not so great for my socks.

hiking
7 months ago

Nice views in the beginning of big bear lake. The little lake in the middle is nice as well.

hiking
muddy
rocky
7 months ago

hiking
muddy
7 months ago

It was so beautiful around sunset time. We started around 6:50pm and finished around just after sun was setting. It was so beautiful! The ☼ was showing off. It’s not a bad hike the hardest part is going up to castle rock. After that it’s fairs flat. The lake was muddy on the edges. And there were certain places where snow had melted that the trail was muddy. Other than that it was just what we needed. Some snow was still there in April. We even brought our K-9 and he had no trouble.

hiking
7 months ago

Fun hike. Started at about 745 am and was the only person around. As I approached the southwest corner of Bluff Lake the trail was essentially a creek so I walked on the edge. The lake is overflowing in that southwest corner and made for some interesting hopping around to continue on around to the north side. Still a decent amount of snow and flowing water than can make it difficult to navigate but very doable.

hiking
8 months ago

A little snow on the way to Castle Rock, then couldn’t pick up the trail after that as there’s too much snow but a fun uphill to that point.

8 months ago

Did this trail today with my two teenagers. Glad we had microspikes, especially through the steep section just before Castle Rock. Above there it was very easy going, but route finding can be a bit challenging in the snow.

11 months 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.

hiking
Mon Sep 03 2018

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.

hiking
Wed Feb 14 2018

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.

hiking
Tue Nov 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.

Tue Nov 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.

Tue Nov 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.

hiking
Mon Oct 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.

hiking
Sat Sep 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.

Sun Aug 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!

hiking
Mon Jul 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!

backpacking
Mon Dec 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.

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