Fisherman’s Camp via Crab Creek Trail

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Sunset from the Crab Creek Trail
Sunset from the Crab Creek Trail
Crossing Deep Creek near Fisherman's Camp
Crossing Deep Creek near Fisherman’s Camp

Fisherman’s Camp via Crab Creek Trail

      • Location: San Bernardino National Forest, between Lake Arrowhead and Big Bear Lake, near Green Valley.  From Highway 18, just east of Running Springs, turn left on Green Valley Road.  Go 2.6 miles and turn left on a dirt road signed for Crab Flats (forest road 3N16).  Follow the signs to the campgrounds, ignoring several side roads that branch off.  Road 3N16 is in pretty good shape, but after about 3 miles, you will have to ford Crab Creek, which, according to the guidebook, is “impassable” in high water.  Even in low water, high clearance vehicles are best.  After crossing the creek, continue to a junction (3.8 miles from Green Valley Road) and turn left on forest road 3N34.   Pass Crab Flats Campground and continue a mile to Tent Peg.  Just beyond Tent Peg, look for an information board and park in the dirt turnout opposite it.  A United States Forest Service adventure pass ($5 per day or $30 for the year) is required for parking. Click here to purchase.
      • Agency: San Bernardino National Forest/Arrowhead Ranger Station
      • Distance: 4 miles
      • Elevation gain: 800 feet
      • Difficulty Rating: PG
      • Suggested time: 2.5 hours
      • Best season:  March – November
      • USGS topo maps: Butler Peak; Keller Peak
      • Recommended gear: sun hat; insect repellentsunblock
      • Recommended guidebook: Afoot and Afield: Inland Empire
      • More information: here; Everytrail report here
      • Rating: 7
0:00 - Crab Creek trail head (click thumbnails to see the full sized version)
0:00 – Crab Creek trail head (click thumbnails to see the full sized version)

This hike has a little bit of everything: panoramic mountain views, oak and pine woodlands, two streams and even a small waterfall.  The scenery isn’t quite as dramatic as on the nearby stretch of the Pacific Crest Trail that runs through Deep Creek or on the Pinnacles hike, but it’s definitely worth a visit.  Although much of the trail is exposed, traveling through area recovering from a 2007 wildfire, there are several pleasantly shaded areas, and the moderate length and elevation gain in the hike makes it a good trip for the summer.  A late afternoon start can be ideal; you can watch the sunset on the way back as you climb up from the stream.

0:05 - Climb that log! (Times are approximate)
0:05 – Climb that log! (Times are approximate)

From the parking area, follow the signed Crab Creek Trail (2W07) which briefly climbs uphill, taking in some nice views, including Shay Mountain to the north and Lake Arrowhead and the Pinnacles to the west. You cross a giant fallen log and soon begin descending some switchbacks. After about a mile, you enter a wooded area and arrive at Crab Creek, a tributary of Deep Creek. With caution, you can follow the creek a few yards upstream, climbing over some rocks, and see a small waterfall.

0:30 - Waterfall upstream on Crab Creek
0:30 – Waterfall upstream on Crab Creek

The trail continues on the opposite of the creek, briefly ascending into a grove of black oaks and then descending through more open terrain. As the trail nears Deep Creek, it travels through a stand of pines. At one point, it becomes somewhat obscure as it cuts through some thick bushes (it appears to bear right, but that route soon comes to a dead end).

0:38 - Oak woodland on the opposite side of Crab Creek
0:38 – Oak woodland on the opposite side of Crab Creek

A hairpin turn to the right brings you to the banks of Deep Creek. If the water level is high and you don’t want to risk crossing, this is a good turnaround point. If you want to ford the stream, you can climb a short but steep trail on the other side, leading to the Fisherman Group Campground, the turnaround point.  There are several picnic tables where you can sit and enjoy the shade and the sound of the creek before heading back.

0:47 - Head straight through the grass
0:47 – Head straight through the grass

Text and photography copyright 2013 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.

1:05 - Fisherman's Group Camp
1:05 – Fisherman’s Group Camp

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