Fall Line Trail, Big Bear lake CA

Fall Line/Pirates/Skyline Loop (Big Bear Lake)


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  • Location: Club View Drive, Big Bear Lake. From Highway 18, approximately six miles east of the Big Bear Dam and three miles southwest of Big Bear City, head southeast on Moonridge Road (turn left if you are coming from Big Bear City; right if you are coming from the dam along the south shore). Follow Moonridge Road for 0.9 mile and bear right onto Club View Drive. Follow Club View Drive for a total of 1.3 mile. Just before it becomes dirt at Skyline Drive, pull into a parking area on the right. The approximate coordinates are N 34 13.627, W 116 52.03.
  • Agency: San Bernardino National Forest/Big Bear Discovery Center
  • Distance: 4.8 miles
  • Elevation gain: 900 feet
  • Suggested time: 2.5 hours
  • Difficulty Rating: PG
  • Best season: Year round; expect snow during the winter
  • Dogs: Allowed on leash
  • Cell phone reception: Good for most of the route; weak to fair in some spots
  • Water: None
  • Restrooms: Chemical toilets at the junction of the Pirates Trail and the Skyline Trail (see description)
  • Camping/backpacking:
  • More information: Fall Line trail elevation profile and information here; Pirates Trail elevation profile and information here; eastern section of the Skyline Trail elevation profile and information here
  • Rating: 7

Updated August 2018

Like the nearby Plantation/Skyline Loop, this loop uses several trails in the newly built network centering around the Skyline Trail on the south shore of Big Bear Lake. While this hike doesn’t have the wide-ranging views of the Plantation/Skyline Loop, it still offers a chance to explore the impressive woodlands of Big Bear Lake, offering a less-crowded alternative to popular trails such as Castle Rock and Pine Knot. Though the route is popular with mountain bikers, it tends to receive light foot traffic.

Begin by following the signed Fern Trail which heads south from the parking lot. By hiking counter clockwise, as described below, you can begin with a descent, allowing you to acclimate more easily to the altitude (trail head elevation is about 7,300 feet above sea level). The Fern Trail makes a pleasant drop through the woods, meeting the Fall Line Trail in 0.6 mile. Turn left and begin the main ascent of this loop. Almost immediately, you reach a split where the Fall Line Trail, a fire road at this point, heads straight and a single-track branches off to the left. The two trails soon rejoin each other so you can take either; the single track winds through the woods while the fire road is slightly more exposed but provides a few glimpses of Big Bear Lake. It eventually narrows to a singletrack and the trails rejoin higher up on the hill.

The Fall Line Trail ascends steadily through a mixed pine and oak forest. It crosses service road 2N51 and continues its climb. The grade soon becomes more gradual and near the top of the Fall Line Trail, a wooden bench provides a good resting spot.

At 2.4 miles from the start, the approximate halfway point of the trip, you reach a junction with the Pirates Trail. Head south and gradually downhill for 0.6 mile to a large junction. Here, the Pirates Trail ends at the intersection of 2N06 (Radford) and 2N10 (Skyline). A trail map and chemical toilet are located here. The easternmost section of the Skyline Trail, listed as Plumbers on some maps, branches off to the left on Radford, just past the junction.

From here, it’s an easy 1.8 miles of mostly downhill through the woods, passing another junction with 2N51. A few glimpses of the lake can be seen between the trees as you descend back toward your starting point.

Fern Trail, Big Bear Lake, CA
Start of the hike on the Fern Trail
Fall Line Trail, Big Bear Lake, CA
Junction with the Fall Line Trail
Fall Line Trail, Big Bear Lake, CA
Boulders on the Fall Line Trail
Pirates Trail, Big Bear Lake, CA
Start of the Pirates Trail
Pirates Trail, Big Bear Lake, CA
Woodlands on the Pirates Trail
Skyline Trail, Big Bear Lake, CA
Junction with the Pirates and Skyline Trails
Skyline Trail, Big Bear Lake, CA
Descending the Skyline Trail
Skyline Trail, Big Bear Lake, CA
Sunset on the Skyline Trail

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.

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