Heaps Peak Arboretum

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Featured in the Nobody Hikes in L.A. Guidebook!

Pacific Dogwood, Heaps Peak Arboretum
Geology and pines, Heaps Peak Arboretum
Geology and pines, Heaps Peak Arboretum

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.

Heap’s Peak Arboretum

  • Location: San Bernardino National Forest between Lake Arrowhead and Big Bear Lake.  From the San Bernardino area, take highway 330 to Running Springs, head west on highway 18 for 4.5 miles and the arboretum will be on the right.  From Lake Arrowhead, take highway 18 for 2 miles and the arboretum will be on the left.  A United States Forest Service adventure pass ($5 for a day or $30 for the year) is required for parking. Click here to purchase.
  • Agency: Rim of the World Interpretive Association
  • Distance: 0.8 miles
  • Elevation gain: 100 feet
  • Difficulty Rating: G
  • Suggested time: 30 minutes
  • Best season: March – November
  • USGS topo map:  Harrison Mountain
  • More information: Homepage here; trip descriptions here and here; Yelp page here; Everytrail report here
  • Rating: 6

If you are driving to Lake Arrowhead or Big Bear and need to get out to stretch your legs, or if you are planning a big hike in the area and want to do a shorter warmup to acclimate to the altitude, this short, wheelchair-accessible trail is the place to be.  It gives visitors a nice, up-close view of some of the trees in the San Bernardino Mountains.   A pamphlet, for which donations are optional, explains some of the trees found in the park, including incense cedars, giant sequoias and Coulter pines.   Some of the flowers you’ll see are the purple iris and the red columbine.

Starting at just over six thousand feet in elevation, the loop can be hiked in either direction.  To follow the order of the numbers in the pamphlet, head left (look for the signs to the Sequoia Trail) and walk the loop clockwise. After passing a restroom, the trail heads into the woods, crossing under the shade of incense cedars, sugar pines, black oaks and white firs. Large cones from Coulter pines are on display in glass boxes displayed along the trail.

As the trail negotiates the side of the mountain, you get some nice views to the west. The trail crosses a creek where a bench makes a good spot to sit and enjoy the scenery. Continuing across the creek a second time, the trail passes a spur leading to a spring and enters a grove of sequoias before returning to the parking lot.

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