Perched within striking distance of Los Angeles, the San Bernardino Mountains offer some of the most popular day hiking and camping destinations in the area. Like the San Gabriels to the west, the mountain wilderness offers a forest enclave of juniper, Jeffrey pine, and ponderosa for the Angelino weary of the urban grind. Mule deer, bighorn sheep, mountain lions, and black bears wander the slopes up here among the mountain aeries and river valleys. Strap on your hiking boots and go for a walk in the woods.
Here are ten hikes to get you out on the trail!
Part of the Pacific Crest Trail, the waters flow year round at Deep Creek Canyon, including a pair of hot springs. Deep Creek Hot Springs offers the best pools, and Warm Springs offers the most seclusion, but be sure to check for restrictions related to water quality.
The focal point of the San Bernardino wilderness, San Gorgonio is certainly its most popular destination. Hikers are drawn by the long summit and abundant views. Consider an overnight camping trip to get away from the crowds.
Big Bear Lake is another of the most popular destinations in the San Bernardino Mountains, and Cougar Crest Trail offers wildflowers in early summer and views of Big Bear Lake and the surrounding mountains all year long.
The world’s largest lodgepole pine lives in the San Bernardino Mountains, and this easy 1-mile trail will take you there. Extra points for the Bluff Lake Reserve, which is just a short hike away.
A long out-and-back hike with great views of the Santa Ana and San Bernardino valleys. Consider this as an alternative to the crowds at San Gorgonio Mountain.
Rising 5 miles away from San Gorgonio, one of Southern California's most popular peaks, San Bernardino Peak often gets overlooked. The trail to the summit is no less beautiful. Long, steep, and difficult, the summit tops out at 10,649 feet with 4,600 feet of elevation gain over its 8-mile course. Nobody said it would be easy, but it is still a very enjoyable summit.
A lesser known trail on the north side of the range that provides access to the same high elevations and sweeping vistas as Vivian Creek and the South Fork Trail. It can be done as a loop that descends down the South Fork Trail, which was once considered one of the most scenic trails in the wilderness.
Short and sweet, this trail brings you through large boulders and dense blankets of forest until your reach Castle Rock; 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.
A rewarding hike very close to Redlands and the rest of the Inland Empire cities. This trail is well worth it for the views at the top and also for the diversity of vegetation, wildflowers, and bird life along the way, which differ from the low-elevation dwellers of the valley.
Thanks in part to its proximity to Los Angeles and in part to the beauty of this towering 500-foot cascade, the area around Big Falls sees an impressive amount of traffic. Even still, if you are in the area, it’s well worth the 0.8-mile, relatively flat jaunt.