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Exploration Trail

MODERATE 152 reviews

Exploration Trail is a 8 mile lightly trafficked out and back trail located near Running Springs, California that features a lake and is rated as moderate. The trail offers a number of activity options and is best used from March until October. Horses are also able to use this trail.

Distance: 8.0 miles Elevation Gain: 1,440 feet Route Type: Out & Back

backpacking

camping

hiking

horseback riding

mountain biking

nature trips

rock climbing

walking

running

forest

lake

views

wild flowers

wildlife

rocky

no dogs

There are nine regional parks in San Bernardino, but only 6 of the 9 regional parks allow Camping. There are four regional parks in the desert area of San Bernardino County. Moabi in Needles, Calico Ghost Town in Yermo, Mojave Narrows in Victorville, And Mojave River Forks in Summit Valley, Hisparia. And two regional parks in the inland area of San Bernardino County. Yucaipa, and Prado in Chino.

hiking
bugs
16 days ago

Finally went the entire length of this trail and find out it ends at a road! I could have continued to the top where there is a fire lookout tower but a storm was blowing in and visibility looked like zero up top with wind. So back down I went, was the only hiker coming down and only saw one other coming down when I was headed up. It’s XX a nice trail with some steeper sections but all in good condition.

hiking
bugs
1 month ago

Started at the top. Out and back. Good tree coverage. Most of the steep inclines come in bursts. Great views and low foot traffic. Would do it again.

hiking
2 months ago

Nice trail, beautiful views, but lordy the bugs were out in force!!

hiking
2 months ago

Very nice trail at only moderate elevation in the San Bernardino NF. Some parking at both ends of trail. Approx 4.5 miles one way. Lots of small flies in middle section of trail if this bothers you. Nice foot trail through trees and boulders. Great scenery! Not too difficult to hike. Takes about 2.5 hours at a comfortable hiking pace.

bugs
2 months ago

Really enjoyed this trail. I was shocked at the incredible and expansive views! I turned corner after corner to look at rows and rows of mountain ranges. Beautiful rock formations and lots of shade!! Forest is just gorgeous. Had a section with lots of bugs in my face but not the whole trail. Will be repeating this. Good workout on the way back as it’s all a gradual uphill.

hiking
rocky
3 months ago

This is the locals favorite trail in Running Springs. Shared by hikers and bikers. Personally Ive probably hiked this like 3 times but biked it a few dozen times. Its the perfect mix of rocks beautiful views, trees and sun. Always a 10/10 experience! I highly recommend it. Don’t litter.

hiking
bugs
3 months ago

Bring bug spray. I also recommend doing the trail in the opposite direction so you’re going up first. There is parking at both ends. Many mountain bikers going down this trail.

hiking
bugs
3 months ago

Nice morning walk on the Exploration Trail. Hiked up from the bottom and did the loop around the children’s forest. This trail is one of my favorites in the area but skip the children’s forest loop, not much to see on this paved trail except for the reservoir that’s fenced off. Been up to Keller Peak in the past but the 1.5 mile road walk is a bummer, I wish they would build a spur trail up to the summit.

hiking
3 months ago

Beautiful. trail lots of tree cover with gorgeous views at top.

hiking
bugs
rocky
4 months ago

A great trail that is fairly short but is a great workout. My favorite thing to do with a hiking buddy is to park one car at the top and then return to the bottom with another car to make it a one-way hike up. START EARLY! The last part of this trail gets pretty unprotected and the sun can be brutal. Lots of bugs during the middle part, but the scenery makes it worthwhile. There is now a bench at about 3/4 of the way up with beautiful views. Bring plenty of water - went through a liter just in the last 1/2 mile.

bugs
rocky
5 months ago

You can easily get lost doing the other trails that meet up with the Exploration Trail but once you’re back on the main trail, it is easy to follow. There were lots of gnats though but otherwise a great trail with great views at the top!

hiking
5 months ago

Loved this trail. 2 hours each direction. A very nice bench gives an ideal spot for a snack break or some private prayer time. The lake is fenced off. Nothing special about it.

hiking
5 months ago

Pretty neat trail, would like to go back when I have more time.

hiking
6 months ago

This trail is terrific. Hiked on the day after Memorial Day and there was a little bit of snow at higher elevation but the trail is in great shape. Highly recommend this hike and although it is challenging it does not require any technical skills to complete. Beautiful views all along with a stream and magnificent boulders lining the trail. One of my favorite so far in the San Bernardino mountains.

hiking
7 months ago

I hiked the exploration trail this morning. It is indeed a moderate hike with several areas that will get your blood flowing. If you’ve never walked this before, please use the app as there are several places where there is no indication which way to go. At times you do cross over the creek which has a good amount of water flowing through it. Overall, despite the rocks it was a fun challenging hike. Maybe one day signs can be put up to help newbies.

Mon Oct 29 2018

Great hike in our local mountains!! Easy trail to follow. Challenging going up, but quick recovery on the down. Watch out for mountain bikers!!

hiking
Fri Aug 24 2018

This is a great hike. Gets your heart pumping and has nice varied terrain. Massive rock formations and boulders all over the trail as well as some nice forest sections and some gorgeous views. Very easy to follow. I started at the base near the fire station outside of Running Springs and took the trail all the way to the start of the Children’s Forest near Arrowbear and walked back down. There were some gnats in a few sections but they weren’t biting just a nuisance. Worth doing this hike.

Sun Aug 05 2018

love this trail. I've both hiked and MTB it

mountain biking
Sun Jul 08 2018

I live about 5 minutes from this trail and it never gets old. great workout and super fun and technical downhill. Best route for a bike is to ride up KP road and down the trail. Use a bell or even a whistle as there are a lot of hikers. While generally down hill, it is an enduro run with more pedal strokes than you might imagine. there are some natural drops and jumps to be had and lots of teethe rattling rocky sections. Despite the description, this is a legal mountain bike trail.

Tue Jun 19 2018

Awesome hike! Very scenic with fantastic views. Added bonus to see a deer on the trail! Lots of Chipmunks too.

hiking
Fri Jun 01 2018

This is a very solid hike in the dry Southern California Mountains. We did the Exploration Trail from the TH near Hwy 18 going uphill one way to the intersection of Keller Peak Rd. and the Exploration Trail ending point . It was a car shuttle (one car at the bottom, and the other near "Children's Forest"). We then drove to the top of Keller peak for some additional views. Note - the road gets very narrow from Children's Forest to the top of Keller Peak, though worth doing once. Avoid the drive on weekends. The 3,500 ft drop-off to the southwest near the top is impressive in spots. We saw no hiking trails there independent of the paved road, i.e., if your hiking to the top, your on the paved roads from Children's Forest to the top pretty much. Your welcome to climb the final fire outlook station once your at Keller Peak if personal is there (they are usually there). Our hike was just 4 miles long with 1440 ft elevation gain one way. Nicely kept trail, nothing "ledgy", and hard to go wrong. More Mountain bikes than hikers though. Some variety in scenery. Note - to go from "Children's Forest" to the peak, there is no clear trails to avoid the road, at least on the southern side, and we were looking for them, regardless of tracks on alltrails.

hiking
Thu Mar 29 2018

Great trail. Planning to come back.

hiking
Fri Mar 23 2018

Keller Peak, The Children's Forest, and The Exploration Trail, all seem to be the same trail. It's always lovely, peaceful, and scenic. Like everywhere in SoCal, it gets crowded at about 11am or noon. Mountain Bikers show up about that time, and that's when I usually leave. get there early.

hiking
Fri Mar 23 2018

Keller Peak, The Children's Forest, and The Exploration Trail, all seem to be the same trail. It's always lovely, peaceful, and scenic. Like everywhere in SoCal, it gets crowded at about 11am or noon. Mountain Bikers show up about that time, and that's when I usually leave. get there early.

Mon Mar 05 2018

Great hike.

hiking
Thu Mar 01 2018

There are some fantastic views along this trail. This hike is peaceful and the setting is serenely beautiful.

Sun Feb 25 2018

No view of the lake but beautiful scenery. Awesome in the winter

hiking
Tue Sep 12 2017

This trail is great and everything a "moderate" trail should be. Beautiful views, perfectly strenuous to get the blood flowing but nothing extreme. Great single track is fun to trek down. HOWEVER, the GNATS are INSANE! They were so bad that we cut the hike short just 2 miles in before we just has to turn back. I'm not even sure repellent would have helped, though definitely bring some and apply liberally if you go. The moral of the story here, although the trail is terrific, is to wait until the fall or spring when (presumably) the gnats arent around.

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