Castle Rock Trail is a popular 2-mile out-and-back hike located in Big Bear, California. This short trail gains 610 ft and provides hikers with a bird’s eye view of Big Bear Lake. The path up to Castle Rock is steep, rocky, and technical towards the end, so make sure to come prepared and wear proper footwear.
Getting There: Directions And GPS Track
- Castle Rock Trail is accessed via HWY 18 in Big Bear, CA. The trailhead is on the south side of the street and can be found at the following address: Big Bear Blvd, Big Bear Lake, CA 92315
- There is very limited parking available at the trailhead. You’ll find space for 3-4 cars in the pullout just north of the trailhead, and another pullout that can fit 8-10 cars just east of the trailhead. You can see the parking areas in the photos below. Be mindful that on certain days this trailhead can be very popular, which will require you to park far away and walk along the busy HWY 18.
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- See track on Strava
- Distance: 2.00 miles
- Elevation Gain: 610 ft
- Minimum Elevation: 6801 ft
- Maximum Elevation: 7388 ft
- Time: 1-3 hours
- Difficulty: (2/5)
- Dog Friendly: Yes
- Permit Required: No
- Parking: Limited parking near trailhead. Adventure Pass required when snow is present.
- Weather: This hike is best done in the warmer months before snow and ice cover the trail.
- Trail Condition: This is a rocky trail that requires proper hiking footwear.
- Cell Phone Reception: Spotty
Do you have the appropriate gear for this hike? Don’t hike unprepared!
See my current hiking gear list.
Hike Map And Elevation Profile
0.0 Miles (6801 ft)- Starting on the southside of HWY 18, you’ll see a trailhead for ‘Castle Rock Trail 1W03’. A sandy path of single track leads the way upward and soon is broken up by a rocky path of stones and boulders.
One of things that I love most about hiking in Big Bear is the abundance of trees. This entire hike takes place under a canopy of pine trees stretching towards the sky. So many of the trails close to home are wide open, dry, and exposed, so it’s nice to enjoy the shade and tree cover of these trails that are only an hour drive from home.
0.3 Miles (7047 ft)- After you’ve hiked a little over a quarter mile, you’ll see two benches which make for a nice place to take a break. The trail up until this point is very straightforward and easy to follow, but soon requires a little more vigilance on the behalf of hikers.
This trail is jamming with hikers on most days, especially on the weekend, so staying on the right path is pretty easy. For hikers that go on less crowded days, there is really good trail marking and signs at junctions that aren’t obvious.
0.60 Miles (7241 ft)- Once you’re through the boulder field that makes up the middle portion of this hike, you’ll catch your first views of Castle Rock from a stretch of sandy single track.
As you approach Castle Rock, you’ll notice that there are more than a few use trails that lead into the complex of rock formations. From this point on, be very careful and mindful with your footing.
For those hiking with kids and/or dogs, you can find a few rocks to climb on, but probably shouldn’t make your way onto the taller formations. There are plenty of great views of Big Bear Lake from the tops of smaller boulders.
For those feeling more ambitious, you can make your way to the highpoint of boulders to reach the peak of Castle Rock.
1.00 Miles (7388 ft)- The high point and summit of Castle Rock requires some class III scrambling, so don’t fool around if you don’t know what you’re doing. It would be very easy to get injured here.
Once you’ve enjoyed the views of Big Bear Lake from Castle Rock, you can make your way back down to the trailhead on the same path you hiked up on.
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