Cougar Crest Trail to Bertha Peak

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As seen in the Nobody Hikes in L.A. Guidebook!


Big Bear Lake from just below Bertha Peak
Big Bear Lake from just below Bertha Peak
Dusk on the Cougar Crest Trail
Dusk on the Cougar Crest Trail

Text and photography copyright 2010 by David W. Lockeretz, all rights reserved.  Information and opinions provided are kept current to the best of the author’s ability.  All readers hike at their own risk, and should be aware of the possible dangers of hiking, walking and other outdoor activities.  The author does not take any responsibility for injuries sustained during hikes or walks on the routes described here.   Check the informational links provided for up to date trail condition information.

Cougar Crest Trail to Bertha Peak

  • Location: Near Big Bear Lake, east of Fawnskin.  Take route 330 north to 38 east.  At Big Bear Dam, continue on 38 (slight left) along the north side of the lake.  The signed trail head parking lot is on the left, 2.4 miles east of the town of Fawnskin.  A National Forest Service adventure pass ($5 for a day or $30 for the year) is required. Click here to purchase.
  • Agency: San Bernardino National Forest, Mountain Top Ranger District
  • Distance: 6 miles (out and back)
  • Elevation gain: 1,350 feet
  • Suggested time: 3 hours
  • Difficulty Rating: PG-13 (altitude, steepness)
  • Best season: April to November
  • USGS topo map: “Fawnskin”
  • More information here; trip reports here
  • Rating: 9

It might not have the most inspiring name, but with great views of San Gorgonio, Big Bear Lake and the Holcomb Valley to the north, Bertha Peak delivers.  With a steady grade at high altitude (the summit is 8,201 feet above sea level), this hike offers a great workout.

From the parking lot, the trail climbs through a pine forest, switchbacking up the a ridge with views of the lake and San Gorgonio to the south.  Through a clearing, you can glimpse the peak to the northeast.

After two miles, pick up the Pacific Crest Trail and head east.  The grade mellows out for a little while.  After half a mile, turn left on a dirt road which climbs steeply for a half mile to reach the summit.   Although telecommunications antennae partially block the view, you can still see the Holcomb Valley to the north and the lake to the south.

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