Towne Trail Big Bear Lake San Bernardino Mountains California hike

If you travel to Big Bear Lake in the San Bernardino Mountains, there’s a good chance you like the outdoors. Those looking for a short hike that’s quick to access from town should set out on Towne Trail. This 2 2/3-mile round trip hike ascends 200 feet on a gradual rolling course along the base of the mountains on the south side of Big Bear Lake. Discover periodic views north over the lake and the surrounding peaks as you enjoy this pleasant woodland hike between Snow Summit Mountain Resort and Forest Service Road 2N08, just above Knickerbacker Road.

Once you get going on Towne Trail, it is easy to follow. To find the trailhead, leave the parking lot for Snow Summit Mountain Resort and walk up the road to the right of the building labeled Tyndall Haus.

Find Towne Trail behind the row of condos on the right. A small trail sign on a shed marks the start of the trail. Turn right and begin up Towne Trail (if you hit the ski slopes, you went too far). Walk behind the condos for about a tenth of a mile and leave the development behind.

Towne Trail
A winter wonderland along Towne Trail
Towne Trail
Hiking Towne Trail

The trail enters San Bernardino National Forest and weaves over ridges and creases on the mountain slope. Several landings along the way provide opportunities to pause to admire the views through Jeffrey pines and black oaks toward Big Bear Lake. Dip across a seasonal stream, 2/3 of a mile from the start and continue west. Below the trail to the right, you will pass a handful of cabins on the outskirts of town(e).

Towne Trail
Cabins below Towne Trail

At it’s west end, Towne Trail meets Forest Service Road 2N08. From here, you get one of the hike’s best views of Big Bear Lake. The white form of the Big Bear Solar Observatory is visible on the north shore of the reservoir below Bertha Peak. After enjoying the view, head back the way you came.

Towne Trail
Looking down Forest Service Road 2N08 from the west end of Towne Trail

If you feel like switching things up, the trail may also be reached from the west end. Drive up Knickerbocker Road to Forest Service Road 2N08, which will be on the left just past the Knickerbocker Mansion Inn. Note: Forest Service Road 2N08 closes to vehicle traffic in the winter when parking also becomes restricted on Knickerbocker Road. Go 0.3 miles up Forest Service Road 2N08 to Towne Trail, which you will find on the left at the outside of a horseshoe bend in the road. An obvious line of boulders blocks vehicles from driving down the trail.

Big Bear’s winter season typically lasts between the third week of December and the third week of February. During that period, Towne Trail becomes a welcome course for cross country skiers and snowshoers, as well as hikers. When the snow is gone, mountain bikers can enjoy the trail too. No fee or permit is required to hike Towne Trail (unless you park your vehicle in the national forest along Forest Service Road 2N08, in which case a National Forest Adventure Pass is required). Dogs are welcome, so get out and enjoy!

Towne Trail
Towne Trail

To get to the trailhead: From Big Bear Lake, take Route 18 (Big Bear Boulevard) to Summit Drive. The intersection has a traffic light. Drive south for 0.5 miles to the end of Summit Drive, turn right on Thrush Drive and park in the lot outside Snow Summit Mountain Resort.

Trailhead address: Thrush Drive & Forest Trail, San Bernardino National Forest, Big Bear Lake, CA 92315
Trailhead coordinates: 34.236792, -116.889687 (34° 14′ 12.45″N 116° 53′ 22.87″W)

 

Elevation Profile
Click or hover over any spot on this elevation profile to see the distance from the start and elevation above sea level at that location, which will be highlighted on the map.
Trail Map

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Photos

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These photos were taken in January of 2013. Click to enlarge.
Nearby Trails
Heaps Peak ArboretumHeaps Peak Arboretum
Take a short hike on Sequoia Trail and Footprint Trail to learn about the plants, animals, and natural history of the San Bernardino Mountains.
Heart RockHeart Rock
This 1 to 1.4-mile round trip hike follows a mountain stream to an overlook of an amazing heart-shaped formation in the rock wall along Seeley Creek Falls.
Marshall PeakMarshall Peak
This 3.25-mile round trip hike reaches a panoramic summit above the foothills of the San Bernardino Mountains.
Whitewater PreserveCanyon View Loop Trail
This 3.75-mile loop in Whitewater Preserve crosses Whitewater River and incorporates a section of the Pacific Crest Trail to deliver big views up and down Whitewater Canyon on the east end of the San Bernardino Mountain.
Southern California TrailsMore hikes in Southern California
Explore more trails in Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, and San Diego counties.

One Comment on Towne Trail in Big Bear Lake

  1. Ana says:

    Is there snow on this trail right now in February 2015? When is there snow in this area generally (outside of the ski resorts)?

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