Off-Road Trails in Big Bear

After combing through user reviews, analyzing difficulty levels, and searching for trails that a wide range of vehicles can use, these 8 stood out as the best in the area. If you head to Big Bear, be sure to bring your dirt bike,  truck, or Jeep and check out these trails. 

8 Best Off-Road Trails in Big Bear, California for 2022

Off-road trails offer an exciting opportunity to get familiar with nature in a new setting, and interest in off-roading seems to be growing—utility vehicles, including crossover utility vehicles, made up 50% of all new car sales in 2020. So, you have your off-road vehicle; now, you need some trails. Our choice? Big Bear, California. Tucked in the San Bernardino Mountains, this area features some of southern California’s best scenery and outdoor activities, including plenty of OHV trails for 4x4s, dirt bikes, Jeeps, and even snowmobiles.

1. Gold Fever OHV Trail 

If you’re new to off-roading, get your feet wet on the Gold Fever OHV Trail. This route runs 11.4 miles and allows for vehicles ranging from small crossovers to trucks. You’ll climb more than 1,100 feet in elevation through the Holcomb Valley, which was once home to several mining sites. 

This trail features prominent mile markers and road signs, and it’s easy to pull over and let other vehicles pass if you need to. You will need a high clearance SUV, truck, or ATV because the terrain is rocky in places. 

There are plenty of points of interest along the trail, and you might want to stop and hike to some of them. Gold Fever Trail is still home to the California Gold Rush relics, and there’s even a log cabin standing on the interpretive site. Anyone looking for an easy trail should give this one a shot. 

2. Big Pine Flat Trail

Another great off-road trek for beginners is the Big Pine Flat Trail, which takes you to Big Bear Lake. It’s accessible all year, and the dirt roads are wide enough to allow trail users to maneuver around other vehicles if necessary. 

This trail traverses 21.5 miles through the Big Bear Mountains. It is both kid- and dog-friendly and features a river crossing that adds extra fun to the route. If you’re heading out for a trip, there’s an option to stay at the Big Pine Flat Family Campground or ride a horse to the Equestrian Campground. The area also has a recreational shooting site. 

3. 2N10 OHV Trail

This 11-mile trail is excellent for off-roaders who are ready to navigate rough and rocky terrain while taking in the scenic skyline of Big Bear Lake. Since this trail is near the area’s popular ski resorts, it’s only open from the spring until the fall. 

Don’t forget your phone (or camera) if you enjoy taking nature photos. The 2N10 OHV trail offers panoramic overlooks with views of the Santa Ana River and Big Bear Lake. If you wander high enough on a clear day, you might be able to catch a glimpse of Catalina Island. 

Take this trail slowly. As one of the most trafficked dirt bike trails in Big Bear, it’s essential to stay alert to avoid accidents. The area also allows bear hunting from August through November, so it’s a good idea to wear bright colors if you’re exploring outside your vehicle. 

4. John Bull Jr. OHV Trail

The thrilling terrain of the John Bull Jr. OHV Trail is a favorite of Jeep and ATV enthusiasts. Best explored by experts, this challenging trail is home to jagged rocks and areas where it is easy to get stuck, so the proper experience and equipment are a must.

For those who want a warm-up, check out 3N10 East—also known as the Little John Bull Trail. It’s a short, less-jagged trek that connects to the longer trail, making it a great place to practice driving through rough terrain before leveling up to the west side. 

5. Gold Mountain Trail

Experienced OHV owners will also love the Gold Mountain Trail, which is one of the black diamond trails in the area. Gold Mountain features obstacles that will test the limits of your vehicle. It can be used by Jeeps, 4x4s, dirt bikes, and all-terrain vehicles, but, beware, because you can get stuck in many spots on this loop. Much of this varied trek is manageable, but there are a few tricky spots that could trip up the novice off-roader including rock climbing and waterfall obstacles.

Gold Mountain is also a popular spot for snow wheeling. Check it out in the winter for a different trail experience, but be prepared for a muddy descent and debris on the trail especially after a snowstorm.   

6. Burns and Rattlesnake Canyons Trail

If you’re after off-road dirt bike trails in Big Bear, CA, look no further. The Burns and Rattlesnake Canyons Trail spans 27.6 miles through one of Big Bear’s valleys and gains over 4,100 feet in elevation. This canyon trail is fun for dirt bikers and Jeeps alike, and its flatter terrain is offset by tight corners and a few rocky spots. Rattlesnake Canyon can get sandy, leading some to spin out

Burns and Rattlesnake Canyons Trail offers a scenic juxtaposition of Big Bear’s forested mountains and expansive desert. It’s also fun in the winter, for anyone interested in snow wheeling. 

7. Butler Peak Trail

One of the easier off-road trails in Big Bear is Butler Peak, which takes you between Green Valley Lake and Fawnskin. Butler Peak, located northwest of Big Bear Lake, is a well-known and popular 4X4 trail because of the scenery and the terrain. While this trail isn’t super challenging, you will need a 4-wheel drive vehicle to navigate some of its obstacles. 

Butler Peak only closes in the winter and remains open in spring, summer, and fall. It is a highly trafficked trail, so expect to see some hikers and bikers on your way. This trail takes you through a scenic shift in terrain and ends above the treeline. Once at the top, you can park and hike to the fire watch station at the top of the mountain. 

8.  Dishpan Springs

For obstacle enthusiasts, Dishpan Springs offers plenty of rough terrain. This short trail is known for jagged rocks, deep ruts, and a dry waterfall. The trail’s large boulders make it great for rock climbers who want to push their off-road vehicles. 

If you’re someone who likes a challenge, this route is for you. Take your Jeep through this trail to navigate through tight squeezes and across rocky flats. Be sure to bring a friend and save the number of a tow company in case you get stuck. 

With so many diverse trails, Big Bear, California is one of the more popular off-road destinations in the American West. This off-road mecca has a trail for every vehicle and every skill level. These trails can easily be found with a GPS or a trails map, and there’s no shortage of sights along the way. Whether you’re interested in a steady climb that pays off with a beautiful view or a black diamond trail that could tip you over, there is something for anyone. 

Enjoy your off-roading adventure in Big Bear and please remember to be courteous of other trail users and watch for campers and hunters.