Big Bear Lake is a great area for hiking. For families with children, some of the hikes can be a little strenuous. To get children excited about hiking in this area we suggest the Woodland Trail. Woodland Trail Interpretive Loop is a fairly easy 1.5 mile hike with 16 signposts highlighting trees, plants and other points of interests. This is a great trail for families. We did it when our kids were 5 and 6 without too much complaining.
Woodland Trail is across the lake from Big Bear lake in Fawnskin. After you cross the bridge, make a left and the parking lot is on your right. Like most hikes in the San Bernardino National Forest you need an Adventure Pass. These passes cost $5 a day or $30 a year. You can purchase them at most gas stations and 7-11 stores in the Big Bear area. They are also available at the Big Bear Discovery Center which is near the trailhead.
Starting Point: 41948 N Shore Dr, Big Bear, CA 92314
Length: 1.6 miles
Elevation: 230 ft gain and loss
From the parking lot you will start the hike to your right (as you enter the lot). This is a counter clockwise loop and you will come out on the left side of the parking lot. In theory, there are brochures at the start of the hike. However, we have come when the brochure case was empty so we recommend printing one out from the National Forest web site.
There are 16 numbered signposts and they are very well marked. You will know if you miss one because they are numbered in sequence 1 to 16. We have never had a problem spotting the signs. This guide will go through all the Woodland Trail signposts.
1) If Trees Could Talk
A juniper tree that is estimated to be 1,500 years old.
2) Tough as Iron
Mountain Mahogany that obtained the nickname “Ironwood” because it is notorious for dulling chainsaws.
3) Creepy Crawlies
A log on the ground. It features a maze pattern left by larval grubs feeding on the decaying wood under the bark.
4) Water, Water, Everywhere?
The stands of willow bushes here are only found at moist sites. However, there is generally only a stream running in winter and spring.
5) Dead But Not Forgotten
Downed Trees play an important role in maintaining a healthy ecosystem. They are an excellent food source for beetles, termites, fungi and bacteria.
6) The Kitchen Pantry
This is a Jeffrey Pine with many holes. It serves as a storage pantry, for woodpeckers to keep acorns
7) Different Oaks for Different Folks
California Black Oak and Canyon Live Oak live side by side here.
8) Know Your Trees
This is a stump. You can look at the tree rings and tell a great deal about the history of tree. It also tells you which years had lots of water and which years were drought years. Further apart rings indicate more growth from more water.
9) Construction Zone
This is Canyon Live Oak is surrounded by a mound of sticks. The sticks are used by Woodrats, aka packrats, to build their homes.
10) Flames and Fragrances
A large Jeffrey Pine that is well-adapted to surviving wildfires.
11) Old Grayback
A view of the highest peak in Southern California, Mt San Gorgonio at 11,500 ft. Our hike to Grand View Point has a more spectacular view.
12) That Rock is Alive!
Climbing rocks is a great Big Bear activity. This is granite rockpile. If your kids like this, they may really like our Castle Rock Trail hike. Always be careful of rattlesnakes that like to rest in the rocks
13) All Plants Have a Purpose!
There are several plants here including Yerba Santa and Rabbitbrush. These were used by the Native Americans as chewing gum and also to make teas and cough syrup.
14) Mother Nature’s Highways
This is a view of various travel routes around Big Bear Lake. These include Highway 38, the bike path, the lake and animal corridors.
15) Food for Everyone
A Pinyon Pine is the only single-needle pine in the world. These pine nuts were a significant source of protein for the Native Americans.
16) Twisted Living & Dead
These are several Juniper trees that have grown together over time. Some of the trees are still alive and growing while others are dead.
The trail ends on the opposite side of the parking lot, right by the restrooms. The total time for the Woodland Trail Loop is 45 minutes to an hour and a half, depending on how long you spend exploring.
If you are ready for a longer hike head down the road to the Cougar Crest Trail or go back to Big Bear Lake for the Castle Rock Trail or Pine Knot Trail. For a brief overview of all Big Bear hikes go to our Big Bear hiking guide.