If you are traveling with a large and active group near Big Bear, Deer Group Camp makes an ideal base camp. It is located right along Pine Knot Trail, which leads north toward Big Bear and south toward Grand View Point. Near that southern terminus and along Skyline Drive (2N10) is the Seven Oaks Trail, which leads into a shady but steep canyon dropping down toward the Santa Ana River. Also nearby is Snow Summit Ski Resort, which offers hiking, mountain biking, and family-friendly attractions all summer long.
Deer Group Camp must be reserved in advance, and there is a minimum of 24 hours. This assures that your group will have it all to yourselves, though you are still in the National Forest and should expect to share the trails and roads with other users.
Amenities at Deer Group Camp include picnic tables, a grill, fire ring, vault toilets, and plenty of parking space. There is no drinking water or garbage service, so you must bring water and pack out your trash.
Note: Reservations are required for Deer Group Camp, which is typically open from mid-May through mid-October. Call 877.444.6777 for specific seasonal open/close dates. Four-wheel drive high clearance vehicles are not required, but they are recommended. If Deer is taken, try Boulder Group Camp or Bluff Mesa Group Camp.