Castle Rock Hike via Upper Trailhead

San Bernardino National Forest

San Gabriel + San Bernardino Mountains, California

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Castle Rock Hike via Upper Trailhead

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  • Castle Rock upper trailhead off of NF-SN86 en route to Bluff Mesa Group Camp.- Castle Rock Hike via Upper Trailhead
  • Giant ponderosa pine (Pinus ponderosa) along the Castle Rock Trail.- Castle Rock Hike via Upper Trailhead
  • Castle Rock Trail via the upper trailhead.- Castle Rock Hike via Upper Trailhead
  • First view of Big Bear Lake along the Castle Rock Trail.- Castle Rock Hike via Upper Trailhead
  • Scarlet bugler (Penstemon centranthifolius) along the Castle Rock Trail.- Castle Rock Hike via Upper Trailhead
  • View of Castle Rock.- Castle Rock Hike via Upper Trailhead
  • Granite boulders on the south side scramble.- Castle Rock Hike via Upper Trailhead
  • View of Castle Rock and Big Bear Lake.- Castle Rock Hike via Upper Trailhead
  • View of Big Bear Lake and Bertha Peak (8,201 ft).- Castle Rock Hike via Upper Trailhead
  • View to the west from Castle Rock toward Butler Peak (8,535 ft), which adorns a fire lookout tower.- Castle Rock Hike via Upper Trailhead
Overview + Weather
Pros: 
Panoramic views over Big Bear Lake. Rock climbing/scrambling to the top. Less steep than a lower trailhead.
Cons: 
Crowds on Castle Rock are possible.
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Region:
San Gabriel + San Bernardino Mountains, CA
Congestion: 
Moderate
Pets allowed: 
Yes
Net Elevation Gain: 
230.00 ft (70.10 m)
Parking Pass: 
California Adventure Pass
Preferable Season(s):
Spring, Summer, Fall
Suitable for: 
Hiking
Total Distance: 
2.00 mi (3.22 km)
Trail type: 
There-and-back
Trailhead Elevation: 
7,590.00 ft (2,313.43 m)
Current Local Weather:
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Hike Description

Hike Description

Pro Contributor

The hills surrounding Big Bear are strewn with large granite boulders and blanketed in trees. Even though you may be hundreds of feet above the lake and thousands of feet above the San Bernardino Valley, good views can be hard to get among all the features on the landscape.

Castle Rock is one granite outcrop that stands out from the rest because it is especially tall. Rising about 100 feet from a hilltop, it towers over the pines, firs, and cedars to gain an incredible view of Big Bear Lake and surrounding peaks.

This destination is popular among visitors to Big Bear, but the typical starting point is from the lower (north) trailhead at a narrow pullout with limited parking. The upper (south) trailhead is not only less crowded, but it also demands less elevation gain. It does require a longer drive from town on unpaved roads, however.

If you are visiting other destinations in the national forest, Castle Rock Trail is nearby and well worth the effort. The final section of moderate rock scrambling rewards with 360-degree views over the breezy forest canopy.

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Location + Directions

Nearby Camping + Lodging

(25 within a 30 mile radius)

Nearby Adventures

(40 within a 30 mile radius)

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