Pets allowed
Elevation Gain
230.00 ft (70.10 m)
Trail type
2.00 mi (3.22 km)
Please respect the outdoors by practicing Leave No Trace. Learn more about how to apply the principles of Leave No Trace on your next outdoor adventure here.

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.

Logistics + Planning

Preferable season(s)




Parking Pass

California Adventure Pass


Panoramic views over Big Bear Lake. Rock climbing/scrambling to the top. Less steep than a lower trailhead.


Crowds on Castle Rock are possible.

Trailhead Elevation

7,590.00 ft (2,313.43 m)


Rock climbing
Big vistas
Old-growth forest


Nearby Lodging + Camping


Definitely recommend hiking from upper (south) trailhead suggested here. Less elevation gain and far less foot traffic - most people who came from the lower trailhead tend to stop once they hit the rock.
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