The Best Hike in Big Bear Lake

Looking for the best hike in Big Bear Lake? Then you have to hike Castle Rock Trail 1W03 up to Castle Rock and Bluff Lake!

What makes Castle Rock Trail the best hike in Big Bear Lake? Well it is the perfect length, it’s close to town, has unreal views, and includes a ton of natural beauty with rock formations as well as giant pine trees along the way.

Climb to the top of Castle Rock trail Big Bear Lake for amazing views of the lake

Not only is the hike to Castle Rock a great one, you can add on hiking up to Bluff Lake Reservoir for a picnic or rest to put some icing on the cake!

The Bluff Lake Reserve adds an extra 2.5 miles to the trip but as Castle Rock isn’t the longest hike so the additional length isn’t too bad at all!

Bluff Lake Reservoir and marshland

Bluff Lake is just a small little lake with a marsh and meadow but it is worth the stop if you have the energy and want to make more of a day out of the hike.

You can actually drive to Bluff Lake as well and there is camping nearby if you wanted. 

If you are looking for some great places to eat post hike see this article here for the 10 best restaurants in Big Bear Lake!

The Castle Rock hike is a little tough at the beginning as it is a steeper grade up but it gets a bit easier the further you go and the hike is on the shorter side so you won’t be hurting for too long!

Amazing view from Castle Rock trail Big Bear Lake

The continued hike to Bluff Lake is also less intense in terms of elevation gain.

If looking for some of the other best hikes in the area you can try Grays Peak Trail, Pine Knot Trail and Cougar Crest Trail.

The only one relatively as nice is Grays Peak Trail but it is 6.9 miles round-trip so of course a lot more difficult for those who are more beginner or moderate hikers.

View of beautiful Castle Rock in Big Bear Lake

Pine Knot Trail & Cougar Crest Trail are definitely a bit more underwhelming especially when you consider the significantly longer length of the hikes and I would say less of a payoff in views & beauty compared to Castle Rock.

Best Hike In Big Bear Lake



Elevation Gain:

To Castle Rock 550 Feet | To Bluff Lake 750 Feet


2.5 miles Round-Trip To Castle Rock | Add 2.5 Miles Round-Trip If Adding Bluff Lake

The hike itself is pretty straightforward beginning from the trailhead with a large map to start the trail.

There a ton of marker totems the whole way up so be sure to keep an eye out for those to stay on course.

Trail marker totem on Castle Rock trail Big Bear Lake

Aside from that the only real place where you could find any confusion is the fork in the road .7 miles or so in where you can go right to Castle Rock or left to Bluff Lake Reserve.

Fork in the trail for Castle Rock trail Big Bear Lake

From there I suggest going right first to Castle Rock where you can climb up to the top  for some of the best views in Big Bear Lake!

Castle Rock trail Big Bear Lake views

After that go on down and I highly suggest going the 2.5 miles round-trip to Bluff Lake Reserve for a little relaxing and maybe a picnic!

It is a cute little marshy area with a meadow and just overall such a serene and peaceful place.

Bluff Lake reserve entrance how to get there


  • Unreal payoff views for not a significantly long hike
  • Much more scenic and better than Cougar Crest Trail or Pine Knot Trail.


  • Not a lot of parking


  • Pack a lunch or dinner and have it at Bluff Lake!
  • No adventure pass needed
  • Bluff Lake Reserve is only open 9am-6pm and no admission cost
  • You can miss the parking easily, there is just a little pull out with a few spots next to the trailhead but then also parking about 50 feet on either side of the trailhead along the road.
  • Leave no trace!
  • Dogs are allowed on a leash

Castle Rock trail Big Bear Lake view of lake


Hola! I’m Fraser & this site is a guide to help you reach your goals, travel the world and create amazing food in between. Get inspiration for travel, recipes & to follow your dreams.

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