Summary: Breathtaking views (and a climb requiring breath to be taken!!) are "de rigeur" along the Cougar Crest Trail, located north of Big Bear Lake. The trail, well-marked and generally in good condition, continues two miles (mostly north) until reaching a junction with the Pacific Crest Trail-the approximately 2638 mile path connecting Canada to Mexico. A four-mile hike along the Cougar Crest Trail to the PCT and back to the parking area is a satisfying and cardiovascular challenge in and of itself, but many hikers like to hike beyond the trail's end, turning east (right) on a dirt road and continuing for about .6 mile to Bertha's Peak, at an elevation 8201 ft. On a clear day, the Mojave Desert can be seen in the distance, and the views of San Gorgonio, Holcomb Valley, and (of course) Big Bear Lake are absolutely awesome.
Trailhead: Travel along Highway 18 through the town of Big Bear Lake until reaching the Stanfield Cutoff-turn north, and continue to the north shore of the lake and the junction between the Stanfield Cutoff and Highway 38. Turn left on Hwy 38 and travel 1.3 miles (approximately .6 miles past the Big Bear Ranger Station) to the Cougar Crest Trailhead, situated on the right side of the road. To reach the Cougar Crest Trailhead from the city of Fawnskin, travel approximately 2.4 miles east along Highway 38-the trailhead will be on the left. A Forest Service Adventure Pass is required to park here, and can be obtained at the Discovery Center or at any Ranger Station. (Lat:34.26298 Lon:-116.9065)
Trail Guides for Cougar Crest Trail:
by Stienstra and Brown (Foghorn Press)
Best Seasons: Fall, Spring, Summer,
User Groups: Hikers, Horses,
Ranger Contact: Big Bear Discovery Center (Ranger Station)-(909) 866-3437
Localhikes Reporter: This hike was submitted by Patricia Barnes, who has posted 23 other hikes on this site
Trail Reviews Page 1 of 4 Submit your own review
Reviewed by Katie on 8/11/2012
It was a fun hike with our dogs, it was hot going up there and we even hiked past Cougar Crest Trail a few miles. Right after we turned around to head back it started hailing out of no where and then rained on us the rest of the way back making the hike that much more fun! Very pretty trail, did not run into any rattlesnakes.
Reviewed by vincent on 12/3/2011
Hike this today with my girlfriend. Oddly enough we just had a Santa Ana on thursday that dumped snow in Big Bear. We broke trail in fresh powder that was pretty much shin deep the whole way up - couple deeper spots. Great hike, not crowded, powder snow.
Reviewed by Kat on 3/30/2011
My boyfriend and I hiked the Cougar Crest Trail on December 4, 2010 for our 4yr Anniversary. It was a beautiful hike! It was not too strenuous. There were spots on the trail where one could clearly see Big Bear Lake. It was breathtaking. There were patches of snow, not too much though. There were boy scouts setting up benches along the trail for hikers to rest. It was a beautiful and romantic hike. I would highly recommend everyone to check it out! :)
Reviewed by Ro on 2/16/2011
Hiked Cougar Trail up to Bertha's Peak with Eddy for Sun. 2/13-Valentine's Day weekend. Patches of snow and ice on parts of the trail and great views of Big Bear Lake on the way up! Most of the hike is on level ground except the last portion (0.6 mi) to the peak. Nice romantic spots on the trail too! Would definitely hike again.
Reviewed by Leah on 8/15/2010
We parked in the Visitor's Center and walked the short way to the trail head. Within 5 minutes of hiking we saw a rattle snake on the side the trail! It was a pretty easy hike (not strenuous) up to the PCT! There are great views of the lake and mountains on the way up! When you reach the PCT there are a few places to sit and take a break! We continued to Bertha's Peak, little did we know that the .6 miles to the top was extremely steep and strenuous! But we made it! The top offers a beautiful view of the Lake and the surrounding Mountains but it was very hard to see the mojave desert in the distant. Bring plenty of Water and Gatorade! If you are brave enough and in good enough shape to summit Bertha's Peak, go prepared and have Fun!
Reviewed by Self inflicted on 6/21/2010
I was looking for a short n sweet trail to RUN which offered a scenic view, what I found was an unbelievable breath taking view, a fun challenging course, with some epic 8000 elevation training conditions. The entire run took approx. 60-65 minutes, that included 2-3 quick stops for a I-Phone snap shot. The trail is a little rough terrained in a few spots, but I do run in 5oz running flats which up the landing zone factor. Take your time on your foot placement and enjoy the switch backs as you climb the mountain, piece by piece. For experienced trail runners, very easy trail, for beginners, it may test you a little, but mostly because of the elevation. I highly recommend this trail to hikers, walkera, n most of all runners!
Reviewed by Aldo on 3/28/2010
Did this hike today with my wife an our german shepard we liked the hike it was challenging. The view is truly awsome once you get about half way .. towards the begining was a bit muddy but that was expected form the melting snow met other friendly hikers and their dogs, we had a great time and would recommed it to anyone , there are great spots to rest as well ....
Reviewed by Christina on 1/15/2010
It is a very nice hike. However, it is not well marked at all. There are some rocky spots, but still worth it. The are many amazing view points of Big Bear Lake.
Notice: Traveling in the backcountry can be hazardous. You are responsible for informing yourself about these hazards and taking necessary precautions. Information on this web site comes from volunteer reporters and may contain errors or omissions. A current guidebook and proper equipment are essential for safe enjoyment of the hikes posted on this site.
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