Difficulty G Distance 0 to 2 miles Rating: 4-6 San Bernardino Mountains - Big Bear and Lake Arrowhead Season: Fall/Early Winter Season: Summer

Woodland Trail


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

Big Bear Lake from Woodland Trail
Big Bear Lake from the Woodland 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.

Woodland Trail

  • Location: North shore of Big Bear Lake.  From the south, take the Stansfield Cut-Off across the lake, take a left, go about half a mile and park in the lot signed for the trail-head on the right side of the road.  From San Bernardino and Lake Arrowhead, take highway 18 to highway 38 and follow 38 around the north side of the lake.  The trailhead is a mile past the Discovery Center on the left side of the road.  (If you reach the cut-off, you’ve come half a mile too far).  A National Forest Service adventure pass ($5 for a day or $30 for the year) is required for parking. Click hereto purchase.
  • Agency: San Bernardino National Forest/Mountain Top Ranger District
  • Distance: 1.5 miles
  • Elevation gain: 300 feet
  • Difficulty Rating: G
  • Suggested time: 1 hour
  • Best season: April – November
  • USGS topo map: “Fawnskin”
  • More information: here and here
  • Rating: 6

People who associate Big Bear Lake with skiing and fishing might want to take a look at the Woodland Trail.  Even veteran hikers will find the variety of trees and geology, not to mention the nice views of the lake and San Gorgonio Mountain, enjoyable.  The trail never gets far from the noise of highway 38, but if you’re planning a bigger hike in the area, this trail is a perfect warmup.

The loop is usually hiked counter-clockwise.  You can pick up a brochure at the trailhead that explains the numbered posts along the way.  From the east side of the parking lot, the trail begins a gentle ascent into the forest, passing by oaks, pines, junipers and some interesting geology as well.

Almost a mile in, the trail reaches its highest elevation, providing nice views of the lake and San Gorgonio.  The trail descends toward the lake, crossing a dirt road and passing by a few buildings.  Just before the parking lot, you pass underneath a few particularly large and contorted junipers.  The parking lot features a few picnic benches where you can enjoy a well-earned snack after your walk–and remember, if you forgot to bring food, you can always grab a bite at the cafe at the Discovery Center, a mile down the road.

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