Castle Rock Trail is probably many people’s favorite hike in Big Bear Lake. It is a short, mile and a half round trip with great views. However, the big attraction of this hike is the large boulders. This is our pictorial guide to hiking Castle Rock Trail.
The hardest part of the Castle Rock Trail hike is finding parking. Castle Rock Trail starts right along Highway 18 where the road makes a sharp U-turn. If you are coming from Big Bear Lake it is shortly past Boulder Bay. Coming from the other direction it is shortly past crossing the dam that holds Big Bear Lake.
Starting Point: Big Bear Blvd, Big Bear Lake, CA 92315
Length: 1.5 miles
Elevation: 500 ft gain and loss
There is a small unmarked parking area before the curve on the right if you are coming from Big Bear Lake. We have always found parking, but there is only space for about 10 vehicles. I think the nearest additional parking area would be around Boulder Bay about a mile away.
The hike up Castle Rock Trail is a straight forward up and back affair. The climb starts immediately at the trailhead. It is a rocky trail, but easy to follow until you get to the rock area. The trail is covered by large pine trees so it is very shady. However, unlike the other trails in the area, there are no facilities by the trail so prepare ahead.
About halfway up there are some benches that provide a good rest stop and chance to view the lake below. From here Castle Rock Trail curves to the right to the large boulders ahead. These large granite boulders are great for climbing.
Some people don’t realize that the hike goes on beyond the first set of boulders. The trail can be hard to follow beyond this point, but there are a few signs. At this point the kids in your group will likely go crazy climbing all over the place.
The top area is fairly flat and provides a great place to hangout and have a picnic. We climbed a lot of big rocks and honestly, I am not sure which one is the actual Castle Rock! Once you are done playing around at the top, simply head back the way you came.
One thing to be aware of is to watch out for rattlesnakes. This is true of all hikes, but especially true when climbing on the large boulders where snakes like to hide out.
After hiking Castle Rock Trail you may be in the mood for some slightly more challenging hikes like Cougar Crest Trail or Pine Knot Trail to Grandview Point. The Big Bear Discovery Center is a good resource for hiking and other activities in the region.