Castle Rock Trail: The Best Views of Big Bear Lake

Feb 24, 2021

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2.6 Miles


~2 -2.5 Hrs


Easy – Moderate

Elevation Gain

600+ Ft


All Year



Ever wonder how Big Bear Lake and the entire area looks from high up? Well, you can actually get amazing, birds-eye views of the lake and city from an altitude of 7,388 feet! I knew I had to do this trail in the snow, and I am so glad I did.

Castle Rock Trail in Big Bear, California,  is a 2.6 mile hike that is heavily trafficked. The peak allows for an elevation gain of 600 feet, or more, with views of the entire Big Bear Lake and surrounding area. This trail is rated as a moderately difficult hike, but is more than worth it. 

Map of Castle Rock Peak Trail

Directions and Parking

Getting to Castle Rock Trail is very easy, but can be a total pain if you don’t plan ahead. I’m talking about bumper to bumper traffic in the winter during the holiday and snow season. 

Here are directions: Castle Rock Trail 1W03, Big Bear Blvd, Big Bear Lake, CA 92315.

I ended up parking at this location: 34.237712, -116.961391.

This is the “parking lot”. It fits about 4-5 cars, so it’s crucial to get here early if you want to park closest to the trailhead.

You can park in the nearby neighborhoods if this area is full, but it will take you an extra 10-15 minutes to get to the trailhead.

The Hike Begins

Once I parked my car, I carefully crossed the street when I saw it was safe. 

You’ll want to be super careful when getting to the trailhead since it begins on a sharp turn on the street. The fast moving cars might not be able to see you, so be aware of that.

Here’s where the trailhead begins. I was in awe at the beauty of the sunlight shining through the trees and the snow glowing bright white. I know I was going to love this snowy, winter hike!

There’s a map that shows you an overview of the hike and area, in case you want to take a look.

Up ahead, I came across this bench that overlooks the snow and pine trees.

The sight is fantastic and you can probably take some cool pictures of yourself sitting on the bench, overlooking the views.

A little past the bench, there’s some steps that are pretty icy. This is probably the trickiest part of the hike. Luckily, I had my trusty trekking poles and grippy snow boots to help me out.

Further up, you’ll need to keep a lookout for this sign on the tree. Honestly, I was about to miss this because it camoflauged so well with the bark.

From there, I made a left and continued on.

I kept walking and spotted this rusty pole. This is another signal to make a left.

I saw these fallen trees and logs on the ground and walked over them. You can try walking around it if possible, but I ended up crossing through to make it more adventurous.

Another snapshot of the powdery snow and tall pine trees. 

This next part wasn’t on the trail itself, but I ventured off for a bit when I heard trickles of water flowing from somewhere. 

I was pleasantly surprised by this small pool of water. It looked beautiful with the sunlight glistening through the clear water. A closer look and you can see the leaves in this small pool.

Another picture-worthy spot and I wasn’t even at the peak yet!

Once back on the trail, I saw this sign posted on the tree as I got closer to the destination.

A confirmation that I was almost to the peak!

I could see Castle Rock Peak from here. This was one of my favorite views of this hike. It looks so very high up in person.

The trees and snow just add to the awesomeness.

As I got closer, I decided to follow the trail that loops around towards the front of the peak. 

Finally, I made it to the peak! Take a look at this amazing view.

At over 600 feet elevation, you can see the entire Big Bear Lake area from the top of the peak. These are just incredible views that you won’t get anywhere else.

I highly enjoyed Castle Rock Peak Trail and feel it’s well-worth doing after a few days of snowfall or any time of the year. 

Animals You Might Find on Castle Rock Peak Trail

It’s common to find animals such as rabbits, squirrels and chipmunks on the way to Castle Rock Peak. I came across lots of them on the hike. 

Although it’s probably not common to spot the following animals, it’s nice to know of the wildlife that’s native to  the surrounding area.

  • Black Bears- Not surprisingly, Big Bear is home to the Black Bear. Black Bears are always hungry and curious animals. If you happen to see one, do not scream or try to get their attention.

  • Rattlesnakes- If you’re hiking in the wintertime, you probably won’t see any rattlesnakes. But, as spring rolls around, they come out of hibernation. They typically stay away from humans, but their bites are dangerous if you try to hold them or provoke them. 

Plants and Trees at Castle Rock Trail

The San Bernardino National Forest is over 800,000 acres long and is sure to be home to plenty of plantlife. 

I decided to provide some informtion on common trees and plants  that can be found here, in case you want to identify some of these along the way.

Lodgepole Pine- The lodgepole pine tree is one of the first to grow after a wildfire. These trees are long, have thinner bodies, and have spiraled/curved needles.

Believe it or not, Big Bear is home to the Champion Lodgepole Pine. It’s about 440 years old and has been around since before Shakespear!

California Sagebrush- The California Sagebrush can be found all throughout the Southern Californian mountains.

They might not seem interesting at first sight, but these plants have so much use. You can make them into teas, and they also have pain relieving benefits.

Native American women would chew these and it would help diminish menstrual cramps and even help with childlabor. Truly awesome plants.

Recommended Gear

Icy/Snowy Terrain: 

    • Columbia Newton Ridge Plus Waterproof Hiking Boot- Good hiking boots with grip are essential. You don’t want to be slipping and sliding.
    • TrailBuddy Trekking Poles with Snow Baskets – I have these and highly recommend them. They helped me a ton on this hike.
    • ICEtrekker Shoe Chains- These shoe chains can provide extra support for those icy parts.

Restaurant Spotlight

Teddy Bear Restaurant

This traditional, cabin-style restaurant serves up tasty and traditional American food. Some of the menu items include bacon waffles, chicken fried steak, and warm chicken pot pies!

Whether you’re dining inside or outside, the ambiance feels cozy, almost as if you were eating at grandma’s.

Nearby Attractions

Of course, Big Bear is known for other attractions. There’s actually so much you can do at Big Bear! The best time for most of these activities is during the snow season. 

Things to Do near Castle Rock Peak Trail:

  • Snow Summit and Ski Resorts 
  • Big Bear Alpine Zoo
  • Alpine Slide at Magic Mountain 
  • Big Bear Speedway and Ropes Course
  • Big Bear Snow Play and Ropes Course
  • Action Zipline & Segway Tours
  • Miss Liberty Paddlewheel Tour Boat 
  • Helicopter Big Bear 

You can call or check the Big Bear website for more information on these activities.

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Hello, There!

We’re Monica and Phillip. Just like you, we share a passion for the outdoors and our beautiful state of California. After many years of exploring amazing and hidden places, we thought we’d share them with you! We hope this blog shows you tons of new CA adventures!