Mountain Biking in Big Bear
Big Bear has a rich history of mountain bike riding and racing that started back in the early 1980s. What started with a couple of small local races grew to a point where Snow Summit hosted a number of World Cup races, and became the premier destination in Southern California for lift service mountain biking. Despite the fact that Snow Summit no longer hosts mountain bike races at the resort, lift service mountain biking continues and offers the general public one of the easier and more spectacular ways to enjoy the grandeur of the Big Bear Valley. Mountain bike racing is still alive in Big Bear as well. Each summer Team Big Bear hosts a number of races that are part of the Southern California State Championship Series. From the hard core mountain bike enthusiast to an athletic family, the valley offers a wide variety of options for riding.
A few suggestions before you embark on any of these rides – make sure you and your group are prepared. Your bikes need to be in good working order, take plenty of food and water, and please stop by one of the local bike shops or the Big Bear Discovery Center to pick up a map.
Best Mountain Bike Trails
The following ride descriptions are intended to give you an overview of the ride and are not intended to be a mapquest, turn-by-turn description of your ride. Take a map and do not be afraid to stop by one of the bike shops for information.
Grout Bay Trail
This is a local favorite. Despite its short distance, 10 miles, this is one of the best single tracks in the valley. Park across the street from the fire station in Fawnskin. Head west on the pavement (Rim of the World), it will turn to dirt. The dirt road is Forest Service Road 3N14. Take 3N14 past YMCA Camp Whittle to Hanna Flats Campground, go to camp site 51. The trail starts here. It is signed but does cross a number of forest service roads, so pay attention. The loop will take you back to Fawnskin. Option – For the more advanced riders, a trip to the Butler Peak Fire Tower, at 8535’, will offer you the most spectacular 360 degree panoramic view of the Big Bear Valley, the LA basin, and the high desert. The two roads you need to locate on your map to make this out and back trip are 2W13 and 2N13C. You can ride the Grout Bay Trail then turn right on 2N13 head up to the tower and finish the ride by returning to the Grout Bay Trail and riding into Fawnskin.
Holcomb Valley is accessible by forest service road 3N09, known to most as Van Dusen Canyon. You can ride the four miles up Van Dusen Canyon or, for a family outing, drive the four miles and start at the top of Van Dusen Canyon where it junctions with forest service road 3N16. For a relatively easy ride, take 3N16 to the east at the top of Van Dusen Canyon. 3W16 will take you past a beautiful mountain meadow, once the site of the town of Belleville and the center of mining activity in the valley in the 1800s. Continuing on 3N16 for another 3 miles, you will arrive at the site of the old Lucky Baldwin Mine and a fantastic view of the Mojave Desert. At this point you should turn around and head back to your original location. Option – For advanced riders, a trip around Delamar Mountain is a great ride. Go west on 3N16 to 2N09 (turn left), take 2N09 to 2N71. 2N71 will take you around the front side of Delamar Mountain and will offer unbelievable views of Big Bear Lake and the San Gorgonio Wilderness Area. Take 2N71 to 3N12 (turn right), 3N12 to 3N16 (turn right). On the return trip on 3N16 you will pass Hitchcock Ranch, now a Boy Scout Camp, and one of the most beautiful meadows in the Big Bear area.
Grand View Loop
For over 20 years, this nine mile ride from the top of the Snow Summit Sky Chair lift has been a Big Bear Classic. The ride begins with a breathtaking ride along forest service road 2N10. With the San Gorgonio Wilderness Area to the south and the Santa Ana River Valley below, you will not be at a loss for photo opportunities. The return trip, on forest service road 2N08 and Town Trail, offers a number of outstanding lake views. Option – If you are looking for a longer ride from the top of the chair lift, then continue on 2N10 to the Lodge Pole Pine. This massive lodge pole pine tree is surrounded by a beautiful meadow and is accessible on a sweet little section of single track. The return trip will be on 2N17, 2N08 and Town Trail. This is an 18 mile ride.
A Few More Recommended MTB Trails
Pine Knot -1E01
Another Big Bear Classic….start and end in the Village on an incredibly designed trail. Trail head found at Aspen Glen Campground, on Mill Creek Road…1/2 mile west of Big Bear Village. An out and back/up and down to Grand View point is an excellent moderate level ride. 6 miles roundtrip with plenty of opportunity to expand on this ride.
Santa Ana River Trail
Often written up as one of the most incredible mountain bike rides in California, catching this from the very top trail head and making your way to the very bottom in Redlands will satisfy your appetite for single track for years. Accessed from Highway 38, approximately 15 minutes outside of Big Bear, it’s a true gem of Southern California. This can be a two- to eight-hour single track ride.
Pioneer Town Ride
This is generally a one-way ride to the awesome historical desert town of Pioneer Town. Be sure to visit Pappy and Harriet’s when you get there. Access this from Baldwin Lake. Arrange a shuttle ahead of time and enjoy a classic, nearly fully downhill rides from alpine Big Bear to the high desert on the edge of Joshua Tree National Monument.
Resources for Road and Mountain Biking in Big Bear
Team Big Bear
Bike Racing, Results, and Links
Bear Valley Bikes
Bikes for Sale, Bikes for Rent, Guided Bike Tours, Maps, Bike Parts, Repairs, Clothing, Shoes.
Follett’s Local Trail Map
Best Map of Big Bear MTB Trails – available for purchase at bike stores and other specialty stores in Big Bear Lake.
Big Bear Cycling Association
Regular Group Rides, Cycling Events, Local Cycling Resource Guide
Big Bear Adventure Hostel
Group Rides, Mountain Bike Trail Information, Maps
Snow Summit Sky Chair Rides
Sky chair rides
Online Trail Maps
Bike Maps, Route Resources, Always Something New
Big Bear Valley Trails Foundation
Group Rides, Maps, Trail Conservation
Guide and Ride(email)
Ride Big Bear’s coolest singletrack and local hotspots with local legend Rich “The Rev” White.
Steven K Sports
Professional Mtn. Bike Team, Race Training, Coaching & Guided Tours with local Pro Rider Steve Kinney