Popular for both casual picnics and as a starting point for a number of trails weaving through the front range of the San Gabriel Mountains, this area experiences moderate to heavy traffic for good reason. On a clear day, it’s possible to see clear over the San Bernadino Valley.
Named after the Switzer family, this park was developed by Sara Switzer and the Women’s Club of Lake Arrowhead with help from the Forest Service in the 1930s. Sara and her husband, Bert, were early pioneers in the Lake Arrowhead area, and they had a heavy hand in settling and developing it. Bert acted as the first Arrowhead district ranger from 1902 to 1926, while Sara served as an early postmistress for the Twin Peaks post office.
From this historical site, hikes ranging from casual day hikes of a few miles to overnight wilderness excursions have their trailhead. Two major sections of the Gabrielino Trail begin at either side of the grounds, one taking visitors to Switzer Falls and down into the lower Arroyo Seco, and the other to Red Box, a major trailhead in its own right. Although the excellent downhill mountain biking between the Switzer Day Use Picnic area and the lower Arroyo Seco was destroyed years ago, the section of the Gabrielino Trail from Red Box down to the site is excellent and well-maintained singletrack. It is advisable to shuttle to the top, because the climb is a doozy.
Though the area was badly burned during a fire in 2009, the region is rapidly recovering. Visitors in the springtime can usually see a colorful dusting of native wildflowers, an excellent sign of a rapidly recovering ecosystem. Many recent visitors report that it's sometimes difficult to even spot traces of the fire. Wildlife is a bit harder to come by due to the heavy traffic; however, gray foxes, black bears, and coyotes, can be spotted by visitors with a keen eye and the right timing.