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Champion Lodgepole Pine + Bluff Lake

San Bernardino National Forest

San Gabriel + San Bernardino Mountains, California

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Champion Lodgepole Pine + Bluff Lake

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  • Night sky prior to an early morning hike.- Champion Lodgepole Pine + Bluff Lake
  • Trailhead for the Champion Lodgepole Pine and Bluff Lake.- Champion Lodgepole Pine + Bluff Lake
  • Paintbrush (Castilleja) along the Champion Lodgepole Pine Trail.- Champion Lodgepole Pine + Bluff Lake
  • Early morning light along Champion Lodgepole Pine Trail.- Champion Lodgepole Pine + Bluff Lake
  • Ponderosa pines (Pinus ponderosa) along the Champion Lodgepole Pine Trail.- Champion Lodgepole Pine + Bluff Lake
  • Trail near the Champion Lodgepole Pine.- Champion Lodgepole Pine + Bluff Lake
  • Red columbine (Aquilegia formosa) near the Champion Lodgepole Pine.- Champion Lodgepole Pine + Bluff Lake
  • Champion Lodgepole Pine (Pinus contorta var. murrayana).- Champion Lodgepole Pine + Bluff Lake
  • View of the Champion Lodgpole Pine from the Siberia Creek Meadow.- Champion Lodgepole Pine + Bluff Lake
  • View of the Champion Lodgpole Pine from the Siberia Creek Meadow.- Champion Lodgepole Pine + Bluff Lake
  • Small marsh along Siberia Creek toward Bluff Lake.- Champion Lodgepole Pine + Bluff Lake
  • Rock formations between the Champion Lodgepole Pine and Bluff Lake.- Champion Lodgepole Pine + Bluff Lake
  • View east to Bluff Lake.- Champion Lodgepole Pine + Bluff Lake
  • View north to Bluff Lake.- Champion Lodgepole Pine + Bluff Lake
Overview + Weather
Pros: 
World's largest lodgepole pine. Easy access trail.
Cons: 
Bluff Lake is on private property (Bluff Lake Reserve). No public boat access or fishing.
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Region:
San Gabriel + San Bernardino Mountains, CA
Congestion: 
Moderate
Preferable Season(s):
Spring, Summer, Fall
Day-Use/Parking Pass Required:
California Adventure Pass
Total Distance: 
1.40 mi (2.25 km)
Trailhead Elev.: 
7,750 ft (2,362 m)
Net Elev. Gain: 
210 ft (64 m)
Trail Uses:
Hiking
Trail type: 
There-and-back/Loop
Dogs allowed: 
Yes
Current Local Weather:
Powered by Dark Sky

Today

Light rain until afternoon.
48°F
38°

Fri

Partly cloudy overnight.
47°F
36°

Sat

Partly cloudy in the morning.
48°F
36°

Sun

Clear throughout the day.
54°F
42°

Mon

Partly cloudy in the morning.
57°F
44°

Tue

Clear throughout the day.
62°F
47°

Wed

Mostly cloudy starting in the afternoon.
61°F
48°
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Hike Description

Hike Description

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A champion tree is one that is larger than any other living members of its species. Though the "Champion Lodgepole" has not been confirmed by foresters as an absolute victor, this is the largest lodgepole pine that you are likely to ever see. It is 110 feet tall, 6 feet wide, and it has been growing for 440 years!

It is surprisingly close to Big Bear, in a healthy old-growth forest that has been spared from logging. Multiple trails converge near the tree, but the simplest way to reach it is via Champion Lodgepole Pine Trail--an easy 1-mile round-trip hike through some of the most beautiful forest in Southern California.

Many large conifers thrive here at the extreme elevation of 7,700 feet. They brave severe winters in return for plenty of moisture from snowmelt and summer thunderstorms, growing tall and strong among meadows of colorful wildflowers. This environment seems a world away from the desert of the valley, though the only thing that separates it is height above sea level.

The roads are usually impassible in winter and spring because of snow, so come in early summer when temperatures are pleasant and wildflowers are in brilliant bloom.

Nearby, and accessible by another short hike from the champion tree, is the Bluff Lake Reserve. This is privately owned by the Wildlands Conservancy, but they invite anyone to enjoy the trails in the nicely preserved natural area. Bluff Lake is surrounded by montane meadows and forests, which are home to several endangered plants. Please stay on the trails and remember to Leave No Trace when hiking here so that people may continue to visit this popular paradise in the mountains.

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Updates, Tips + Comments

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Location + Directions

Location + Directions

Nearby Camping + Lodging

(25 within a 30 mile radius)

Nearby Adventures

(40 within a 30 mile radius)

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