San Bernardino National Forest - Southern California

The San Bernardino National Forest is generally the transverse mountainous region that lies north of Interstate 10, east of Interstate 15, south of the Mojave Desert, and west of Joshua Tree National Park.  With this kind of access and diverse surroundings the San Bernardino NF is filled with things to do and you are likely to see a couple people while doing it too.

The main jumping off point for activities in the San Bernardino National Forest is the Big Bear Lake area.  It has bike shops, equipment rentals, food stops and hotels for those not camping.  The Big Bear Lake main drag has all the world’s fast food while the downtown area has more interesting food options, including a Himalayan restaurant (?).  The south side of the lake is home to Bear Mountain and Snow Summit ski resorts that both top out a little over 8,000 ft.  They are generally crowded and seem like they are where all of Southern California goes to learn to ski/snowboard.  Both are in the running for being home to the worst snowsliders in the world.  Snow Valley is a smaller, higher ski resort over the pass on the west end of the lake.

There are a lot of alpine lakes in the area; all are smaller than Big Bear Lake.  Lake Arrowhead is the second largest and is a lot less developed.

One of the best things about the San Bernardino National Forest is its extensive and distributed forest service road network that provides vehicular access to a lot of points of interest.  These roads range from the Van Dusen Trail, which is easily traveled in passenger cars, to the John Bull Trail which requires heavily modified machinery to pass successfully. 

The area’s various fire towers provide great views of the basin below and surrounding peaks.  Holcomb Valley Pinnacles is a popular rock climbing area.  San Gorgonio peak, which is over 11,000 ft, can be accessed by trailheads of Hwy 38 via Vivian Creek or through Forest Falls.

 

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