- Location: San Bernardino National Forest, near the towns of Angelus Oaks and Seven Oaks. From Highway 38 (12 miles northeast of the big curve by Forest Falls and 26 miles northeast of Redlands), head north on Glass Road. Follow Glass Road for 2.2 miles to Seven Oaks Road. Turn right and make a quick left onto Radford Camp Road. Follow Radford Camp Road for a total of 0.9 mile to the Converse ranger station, where the pavement ends. Continue on Radford Camp Road, now signed as 2n06 (the road immediately to the right of the entrance to the station). A high clearance vehicle is ideal, but with caution, standard vehicles should be fine. In 0.9 mile, just as the road makes a pronounced bend to the right, look for an information board and a signed trail head. The approximate coordinates are N 34 12.175, W 116 54.275.
- Agency: San Bernardino National Forest/Mill Creek Ranger Station
- Distance: 4.4 miles
- Elevation gain: 1,600 feet
- Suggested time: 2.5 hours
- Difficulty rating: PG-13 (Steepness, elevation gain, altitude)
- Best season: Year round but possible snow and ice during the winter and hot during the summer (check conditions before going)
- Dogs: Allowed
- Cell phone reception: Good for most of the route; weak in some spots
- Water: None
- Restrooms: None
- Camping/backpacking: There are a few spots on the trail that might work for dispersed camping (see description below). For information on dispersed/remote camping in the San Bernardino National Forest, click here.
- Recommended gear: Hiking poles; sun hat
- More information: Forest service page here; Map My Hike report here
- Rating: 8
Updated May 2018
Thanks to the efforts of the Big Bear Valley Trails Foundation and the U.S. Forest Service, the Seven Oaks Trail, which is one of the area’s oldest but had fallen into disrepair, is once again functional. The trail, also known as 0E01, climbs up the north slope of the Santa Ana River canyon to the ridge above the south shore of Big Bear Lake, offering excellent views of San Gorgonio and its neighboring peaks. The short but steep hike is a perfect training exercise for some of the taller peaks in the region. Due to its secluded location, it receives light visitation.
From the information board, follow the trail into an attractive grove of black oaks. At 0.4 mile, the trail makes a hairpin turn, continues its steady ascent and reaches another turn at 0.6 mile (500 feet above the trail head). Here you can catch your breath and enjoy views of the canyon and the mountains towering to the south.
The trail follows a steep ridge with some sharp drop-offs on both sides. About one mile from the start, the trail passes a small clearing that could work as a campsite for those who are backpacking this trail. After about 1.5 miles and 1,300 feet of elevation gain, the grade finally starts to ease up. The trail heads northwest, skirting the upper edge of the Hamilton Creek drainage, in and out of groves of black oaks, scrub oaks and pines. At 1.8 miles, you make a sharp switchback and pass under a giant pile of boulders. From here on it’s easy going to the top of the Seven Oaks Trail, 2.2 miles from Radford Camp Road.
Your efforts are rewarded with a stunning view to the south, which you can enjoy from a bench. Ambitious hikers can continue on another 0.3 mile to Grandview Point or explore the Skyline Trail, which heads both east and west. Otherwise retrace your steps, exercising appropriate caution on the steep descent.
If you don’t mind setting up a long car shuttle, this hike can work well as a point-to-point, either starting at the upper Seven Oaks trail head or the Pine Knot trail head.
Text and photography copyright 2018 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. By reading this, you agree not to hold the author or publisher of the content on this web site responsible for any injuries or inconveniences that may result from hiking on this trail. Check the informational links provided for up to date trail condition information.