Cougar Crest Trail

San Bernardino National Forest, California

Elevation Gain1,263ft
Trailhead Elevation6,888ft
Elevation Min/Max6888/7663ft
Elevation Start/End6888/6888ft
Cougar Crest Trail is a hiking and biking trail in San Bernardino County, California. It is within San Bernardino National Forest. It is 2.3 miles long and begins at 6,888 feet altitude. Traveling the entire trail is 4.7 miles with a total elevation gain of 1,263 feet. Along the trail there are viewpoints. This trail connects with the following: Pacific Crest Trail.

Cougar Crest Trail Professional Reviews and Guides

"Cougar Crest is a wonderful trail for beginners. It doesn’t need to be completed to be enjoyed, and the area has enough scenic beauty to make it a fantastic place to get in touch with nature. Many people use this trail for running and exercise; there are almost always hikers, too, as this is perhaps the most popular trail in the Big Bear area. The trail traverses forest filled with towering lodgepole and Jeffrey pine. Some rather large western junipers, with their distinctive twisted and gnarled red bark, also thrive on this trail."

"Cougar Crest Trail is technically a hike to the PCT rather than a hike on the PCT, but it is a very popular, accessible trip enjoyed by numerous Big Bear visitors. The trail climbs lush forested slopes to join the PCT on the ridge between Big Bear Lake and Holcomb Valley."

"Big Bear Lake, with its popular resorts and ski areas, offers some fine hiking experiences for those willing to stretch their legs a bit. A number of old roads and trails lace the slopes south of Big Bear Lake (the mini-metropolis of that same name on the lake’s south shore), but the sloping mountain rim that rises above the serene and mostly undeveloped north shore of the lake offers better hiking. Here, the Cougar Crest Trail ascends to a junction with the 2,600-mile-long Pacific Crest Trail—the world’s longest maintained footpath."

"A thousand-foot-tall forested ridge separates Big Bear Lake from Holcomb Valley to the north. The Cougar Crest Trail climbs from the north shore of Big Bear Lake up to a low point on this ridge, where it meets the Pacific Crest Trail. The Cougar Crest Trail offers a family-friendly hike through the forest, with occasional views down to the lake and across to the San Gorgonio Wilderness. It is extremely popular on the weekends, so do not expect to find solitude here. Peak baggers may choose to continue farther to Bertha Peak, though dense forest obscures the views from the summit and a cluster of antennas detracts from the natural ambience."

"The Cougar Crest is a well-traveled beginners’ trail. The first mile used to be an old fire road. The trail gains only a minimal amount of elevation until reaching the end of the old road. You will probably see lots of people of differing athletic abilities and different purposes. There is a good chance you’ll come across runners, families, older people, and people with their dogs should you venture out on a busy summer weekend. On the other hand, during the week, there will be relatively few people and you should have the trail mostly to yourself."

Cougar Crest Trail Reviews

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Brought both my dogs and the trail was perfect. Really easy for a group that doesn't do much hiking. We didn't make it to the top but by asking around we found we were only 20 minutes from finishing. There was a great view point with lots of benches with a view of the whole lake. That's where we turned around. It took us about 2 hours to get up there, with many stops for the dogs and letting people pass on some of the narrower parts of the trail. I would recommend this trail for anyone visiting Big Bear.
The Cougar Crest trail is an well maintained, easy to find, and has plenty of parking. (Just remember to purchase an Adventure Pass) I highly recommend this trail.
On a weekday afternoon in summer, this trail was almost empty. Nice views at the top, dog-friendly.
As described, trail is good for beginners and trail runners. Gorgeous panoramic views of the lake, and accesses the Pacific Crest trail.
I went on a gorgeous fall day. The trail is well maintained and easy to hike. Gradual elevation gain makes it an enjoyable hike. The views are so rewarding.

Trail Information

San Bernardino National Forest
Nearby City
San Bernardino National Forest
Dog-friendly, Kid-friendly