- Location: North of Big Bear Lake. From the intersection of Highway 38 and Highway 18 at the western end of Big Bear Lake, take Highway 38 east for 5.3 miles. Turn left onto Polique Canyon Road, which soon becomes dirt (a little bumpy but as of this writing passable for all vehicles.) After 1.6 miles, turn right at the junction. At 0.7 miles, park in a small turnout on the right side of the road by a sign reading “Holcomb View Trail.” While most of the trails in the area require a National Forest Service adventure pass for parking, there’s no indication at the trail head that the pass is required. If you want to be sure, you can purchase the National Forest Service Adventure Pass ($5 per day or $30 per year) here.
- Agency: San Bernardino National Forest/Big Bear Discovery Center
- Distance: 5.4 miles
- Elevation gain: 1,000 feet
- Difficulty Rating: PG-13 (altitude, elevation gain, steepness, trail condition over last half mile)
- Suggested time: 3 hours
- Best season: May – October
- USGS topo map: Fawnskin
- Recommended gear: insect repellent; hiking poles
- Recommended guidebook: Afoot and Afield: Inland Empire
- More information: here (described from the beginning of Polique Canyon Road); here (described via the Cougar Crest Trail, 12 miles round trip)
- Rating: 8
Located on the north shore of Big Bear, Delamar Mountain is the tallest point on the ridge between the lake and Holcomb Valley, with a summit of 8,398 feet. Although the views aren’t quite as good as from the hike to nearby Bertha Peak, and the trail doesn’t offer the variety of Gray’s Peak, it’s still an enjoyable and challenging hike, well worth a visit.
The beginning of the hike, which follows the Pacific Crest Trail, is deceptively easy. The P.C.T. heads very gradually uphill, climbing only about 400 feet over the first two-plus miles through a forest of black oaks, firs and pines. In the early part of the hike, you get some nice views of Big Bear Lake and San Gorgonio to the south.
After a little more than a mile, the trail crosses to the north side of the ridge, giving glimpses of Holcomb Valley. Rounding a curve you get a nice view of Bertha Peak’s pointy summit to the east.
At about 2 1/4 miles, the P.C.T. crosses a steep, loosely defined trail. This is where the bill comes due. Delamar Mountain has an elevation similar to Smith Mountain in the Angeles National Forest (although Smith is more difficult): an easy beginning but a difficult push to the summit.
Climb up the loose and steep trail, using your poles. After ascending almost 200 feet you get a brief respite. The trail flattens out and bends south, passing a primitive campsite, and then the steep ascent begins again. You hack your way up the mountain, climbing another 300 feet, over and around fallen tree trunks, before the trail levels out shortly before the summit.
An easy to climb pile of boulders is the true high point of Delamar Mountain, providing some nice views of Holcomb Valley and the San Gabriels to the west, but the best views are found farther south. Forging your way across the ridge, you reach another pile of boulders, from which you get some great views of Big Bear Lake. After resting to make sure your legs are fresh for the steep descent, return via the same route.
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.