running in nature

Running in Big Bear

Big Bear is dream destination for runners of all levels, and gives you a chance to get off the road and enjoy the serenity and peace of the mountains. Take a deep breath and step into the fresh mountain air with the smell of pine, the sounds of birds, the incredible blue skies and puffy white clouds. Beautiful Big Bear Lake fills the valley floor at 6750 feet. From there, the valley is surrounded by rugged hills and mountains rising to nearly 10,000 feet.

Best Places to Run

Whether you just want to relax and gather your thoughts or train for your first 5K, 10K, Marathon and beyond, the fresh air and endless web of trails at high elevation make Big Bear the ultimate runners’ paradise.

South Shore Trail Network

Roughly 15 miles in length, arguably the crown jewel of trails in Big Bear is the Skyline Trail, which acts as the backbone of the South Shore Trail Network. Skyline Trail spans from the Bluff Lake area in the west to nearly Bear Mountain Ski Resort in the east. Many trails branch off from Skyline Trail, making it the perfect place to enjoy well-groomed dirt with easy footing and panoramic vistas to more intense vertical gain and loss.

The Big Bear Trails Foundation has outfitted this network with new map kiosks at all the major junctions so you can find your way even easier.

Popular places to start your run are:

  • The eastern terminus (follow Club View Drive from Moonridge Road all the way to the end where FS road 2N10 begins)
  • Follow Knickerbocker Road to FS road 2N08 (on the left).
  • Use Pine Knot Trail from Aspen Glen Picnic Area
  • In summer, use the hiker’s route up through Snow Summit Ski resort

Pacific Crest Trail

The Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) offers runners an intermediate option for running in Big Bear. The ascents and descents are typically gradual and the footing is relatively good for trail running. Like most areas in Big Bear, there are vistas a plenty. The PCT through Big Bear can be accessed easily from Holcomb CreekDel Mar Mountain, Cushenbury, and Onyx Summit, roughly 32 miles in total. On the west side you’ll experience more of an alpine environment, and as you move east the terrain becomes more like high desert with cacti, yucca, and even Joshua Trees! Nearing Onyx summit, you’ll be back in an alpine forest at a higher elevation.

Alpine Pedal Path

Located on the North Shore of Big Bear Lake, this is a multi-use asphalt path, approximately 5 miles in length (one-way). The path is nearly flat, with an elevation gain or loss of 285ft along the entire way – a great option for kids. You will mostly hug the lake, with marshland in between the path and the water’s edge. Expect moderate use on weekends during the summer.

You can start either at the Discovery Center (west end), Cougar Crest trailhead, Meadows Edge Picnic Area (mid-way), East Boat Launch Ramp, or at Standfield Cutoff.

Cougar Crest

Nearly 5 miles round trip, Cougar Crest is a steep climb and great technical run. There are several opportunities to take in beautiful views of the lake and San Bernardino and San Gorgonio Mountains from this North Shore location.

Park at Cougar Crest Trailhead (Adventure Pass required) and follow the trail, which ends at the Pacific Crest Trail. This trail is heavily traversed on summer weekends, arrive early to get the place to yourself.

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Kodiak Ultra Marathons

August 20 - August 21

The Kodiak Ultra Marathons are situated in the San Bernardino Mountains of Southern California at an elevation of 7,000'. The cozy, cool, alpine village of Big Bear Lake is ready to host you and your crew!

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Resources for Running in Big Bear

Holcomb Valley Trail Run
7, 15 and 33 mile Trail Runs on the North Shore of Big Bear

Kodiak Ultra Marathons
50K, 50 Mile, and 100 Mile Trail Races finishing in the Big Bear Village

Kodiak Kids Trail Runs
1.5 and 3 mile races designed to introduce kids to trail running

Big Bear Trail Runners
Join the Facebook Page to connect with local and visiting trail runners. Post questions or look for training partners and group runs.