Pack Trail (San Bernardino National Forest)

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    • Location: San Bernardino National Forest, between Lake Gregory and Lake Arrowhead. The nearest available parking is on the corner of Fairway Drive and Walnut Hills Drive, Lake Arrowhead. From I-210 in San Bernardino, take the Waterman Ave/Highway 18 exit and head north for 14.1 miles. Turn left on Lake Gregory Road and make an immediate right on Highway 189. Follow Highway 189 for 1.5 miles to Grandview Rd. Go 1.2 miles and bear left onto Fairway Drive. Walnut Hills Drive is the first right. Park where available. Alternately, from Running Springs, take Highway 18 west for 8 miles to Daley Canyon Rd. Turn right and follow Daley Canyon Rd. 0.4 mile to Highway 189. Turn left and go 0.3 mile to Grass Valley Rd. Turn right and go 0.5 mile to Clubhouse Drive. Go 0.1 mile and turn right onto Fairway Drive. Go 1.4 mile to Walnut Hills Drive. Turn left and park where available.
    • Agency: San Bernardino National Forest/Lake Arrowhead Ranger District
    • Distance: 5.2 miles
    • Elevation gain: 1,100 feet
    • Difficulty Rating: PG-13 (Elevation gain, terrain, trail condition)
    • Suggested time: 3 hours
    • Best season: All year, but potential snow and ice during the winter and hot during the summer.
    • Dogs: Allowed (use a leash and be careful on the street; exercise caution on warm days and be aware of terrain that may be rough on their paws)
    • Cell phone reception: Fair in some spots; weak to none for most of the route
    • Water: None
    • Restrooms: None
    • Camping/backpacking: None (the nearest campground is North Shore, open from April to September).
    • Recommended gear: hiking poles; insect repellent
    • More information: Map My Hike report here
    • Rating: 6

Updated April 2018

This somewhat odd but nevertheless enjoyable hike explores the north slope of the western San Bernardino Mountains between Lake Arrowhead and Lake Gregory, providing views of the high desert and the San Gabriel Mountains. The Pack Trail is an abandoned fire road that appears to receive little or no maintenance from the San Bernardino National Forest. Several portions of the trail are washed out and large, fallen trees require some scrambling. In the warmer months bugs can be quite annoying. Despite these drawbacks, this trail is well worth a visit if you find yourself in the Lake Arrowhead area and want an alternative to the region’s more popular trails.

There is no parking immediately by the entrance to Tunnell Road, which access the Pack Trail, so you will have to start 0.3 mile away at the corner of Walnut Hills Drive and Fairway Drive. Head downhill on Fairway Drive, exercising caution (there is little or no shoulder on the road, but traffic is usually not too heavy). On the left side of the road you will notice a small stone wall with a metal gate; this is the access point for Tunnell Road. Follow it a short distance to an unsigned but obvious junction with the Pack Trail on the left.

For the next 0.7 mile, the trail meanders around through a pleasant mixed forest of oaks, pines and a few cedars, providing occasional glimpses to the north of Mt. Marie Louise and the Pinnacles. One mile from the start, bear right and head downhill to continue on the Pack Trail, which now effectively becomes a single-track. You pass a spring at 1.5 miles from the start (no potable water) and soon afterward, a makeshift footbridge spans a washed out section of the trail. If you are reluctant to use the bridge, you can fairly easily negotiate the creek bed upstream from it.

The next obstacle is a series of large, fallen trees that block the trail. A makeshift use trail on the left bypasses these trees, heading through a sloping meadow before dropping back down (look for a rake stuck in a pile of rocks to mark this point should you be unable to find the use trail on your way back.) The Pack Trail continues its descent through the attractive woodlands, now more dominated by oaks as the elevation decreases.

At 2.1 miles, the trail joins a service road. You continue downhill through a meadow with views of Mt. Baldy and the neighboring San Gabriel summits far off to the west. By this point you may hear traffic on Dart Canyon Road at the bottom end of the trail (no public access). Before the trail reaches private property it passes a large oak that makes a pleasant spot to rest and charge your batteries for the uphill return.

Pack Trail, San Bernardino National Forest

Start of Tunnell Road

Pack Trail, San Bernardino National Forest

Mt. Marie Louise and the Pinnacles from the Pack Trail

Pack Trail, San Bernardino National Forest

Footbridge over washed out trail

Pack Trail, San Bernardino National Forest

Black oaks, Pack Trail

Pack Trail, San Bernardino National Forest

Fallen trees on the Pack Trail

Pack Trail, San Bernardino National Forest

View of Mt. Baldy and the San Gabriels

Pack Trail, San Bernardino National Forest

Oak near the bottom of the trail (turnaround point)

Pack Trail, San Bernardino National Forest

Dusk on the Pack 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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