Champion Lodgepole Trail Professional Reviews and Guides
"Located in the San Bernardino National Forest at Big Bear Lake. Highlights: The Champion Lodgepole is the largest living lodgepole pine tree in the San Bernardino National Forest. Hazards: Four-wheel drive vehicles and dirt bikes. Forest Adventure Pass required."
--Mark Ross & Brad Fine, Mountain Biking Southern California (Falcon Guides).
"Lodgepole pines (Pinus contorta) are so named because saplings were used by Native Americans to build their dwellings. Also known as tamarack pines, they are common in the Sierra Nevada and also live above 8000 feet in the cool upper reaches of the San Gorgonio Wilderness. Lodgepole pines are easily recognized by their thin gray scaly bark, golf ball-sized cones, and pairs of needles. A small stand of lodgepoles, likely left over from a colder bygone era, can be found perched on Bluff Mesa at about 7600 feet. One of these, a double-trunked behemoth, is the largest known lodgepole in the world. It stands 110 feet tall and is 20 feet in circumference. Biologists estimate that the Champion germinated in 1560, four years before Shakespeare’s birth. It is reached by way of a scenic drive on a good dirt road followed by a short nature walk."
--David & Jennifer Money Harris, Afoot and Afield: Inland Empire (Wilderness Press).
"On this trip, you see what is believed to be the largest lodgepole pine standing guard over a serene mountain meadow. The route is hilly, remote and heavily forested in spots. It courses past beautiful rock formations on the way to the tree. The ride includes 2 miles of an easy, delightful singletrack. This is a two-water-bottle ride. Be sure to carry food."
--Delaine Fragnoli & Don Douglass, Mountain Biking Southern California's Best 100 Trails (Fine Edge Productions).
"Lodgepole—also known as tamarack—pines are readily identi?ed by their thin, scaly bark and their paired needles (the only pine in these mountains with two needles per bundle). They are usually found only in high subalpine forests, just below timberline. This trip is a very short stroll through lush forest and grassland to the world champion. The trail is marked with several numbered posts. A pamphlet at the trailhead explains the sights at each post."
--John W. Robinson with David Money Harris, 100 Hikes in Southern California: San Bernardino Mountain Trails (Wilderness Press).
"This very easy stroll through the conifer forests of the San Bernardino Mountains leads to the world’s largest-known lodgepole pine. Between the Santa Ana River Canyon in the south and Big Bear Lake in the north rises a well-watered, thickly forested plateau reminiscent of the Tahquitz Creek plateau in the San Jacinto Mountains. Lush meadows and several small, willow-clad streams enrich this interesting plateau. This leisurely downhill walk leads hikers to the largest-known lodgepole pine, standing at the edge of the largest meadow on the plateau. Lodgepole pines—easily identified by needles in bundles of two and by their scaly, light-orange to light-brown bark—are usually found on dry, well-drained slopes above the 8,500-foot level in southern California’s mountains but occasionally invade wet meadows at lower elevations. The lodgepole pines on this plateau are among the finest specimens anywhere."
--Ron Adkison, Hiking Southern California (Falcon Guides).
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