Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Hike 101: Pineknot Trail (Aspen Glen to Grand View Point)

Hiked Tuesday, November 16.

No pictures for this hike: I forgot my camera! Also, although I took a number of shots with my cell phone, 1) Even when it works, the resolution there is horrible, and; 2) For some reason, today I had trouble moving pictures on to my micro SD card. The music on the card plays fine, but I could not move pictures down on to it, which means I can not move pictures from my phone on to my home computer, either.

I haven't hiked much in the San Bernardino Mountains, in part because they're pretty far away from home. From the junction of the 210 and 10 freeways, it's nearly an hour to the Big Bear area. I can get to Joshua Tree in just about the same amount of time.

Today's trailhead was at the Aspen Glen Picnic area. I took the 210 freeway far to the east (ironic that my last hike was to the far west end of the 210). Just after Highland Avenue, there's an exit for CA-330, to the Mountain Resorts. I took 330 north into the mountains. It's a pretty steep, pretty winding road. 330 terminates when it runs into CA-18, about 30 minutes after you left the 210.

After another 20 minutes or so, the 18 reaches the dam that holds back the waters of Big Bear Lake. Currently, there's construction going on at the dam, as well as at several points along the way to the dam. I waited about 10 minutes total at two different flagmen.

Once the flagman at the dam gave me the "Slow" sign, I proceeded along the southern shore of Big Bear Lake.

About one mile before reaching the official town of Big Bear (but after you have already passed many shops, lodges, etc), you'll approach the Hillcrest Lodge. They had a large, greenish sign in front of the lodge. Mill Creek Road is the first road after that. There should be a small sign at Mill Creek Road, probably a picture of a picnic table. That's where the trailhead is located.

Turn right on Mill Creek Road and go straight about 1/2 mile. The picnic area will be obvious and on your left. An Adventure Pass is required.

There are a number of picnic tables and a pit toilet. The trail starts on northeast corner of the lot (front left, if facing the street).

As the trail begins, it is clearly marked by 6x8 inch wooden markers on both sides of the road. After a 100 yards or so, the road splits. The Pineknot Trail (1E01) is the road that goes to the left. About 50 yards after turning left there, you'll pass a sign that says "Trail." Most of the signs for this trail just say "Trail." A few says "Grandview" or "GVL" for Grandview Loop trail. Most will just say 1E01 on the way in.

After about 1/2 mile, the trail drops towards a season creek. The broad and wide path is the one to follow. This gets only slightly tricky when you cross the creek, because if you are tempted to avoid the water, you might get yourself on a false trail that leads the wrong way. Just make sure you are heading generally southeasterly as you cross the water.

About 1 mile after the stream crossing, the trail will approach a patch of bare land that lies atop a small crest. From there, you can spy the far eastern end of Big Bear Lake. A few trails also come up to this crest, though I'm not sure where they come from.

Another 1/2 mile further and you'll get a decent view back to the marina of Big Bear Lake.

After that, the trail heads mostly southerly and you won't see the lake.

The trail generally levels off as it enters Deer Group Camp. There's a pit toilet there.

Maybe 1/2 mile after reaching the camp, the trail crosses road 2N10. There's an overlook here, and a trailhead for trail that heads from the rim three miles down towards highway 38. I don't recall the name of the trail, and, as I said, I can't view the pictures I took except on my cell phone, so I can't read the name of the trail).

From there, continue an additional 1/4 to your right, on up to the official Grandview Overlook. Nice view down into what I assume is the north fork of Mill Creek. It's a little confusing since Highway 38 was Mill Creek Road, and the road I took here near Big Bear is also Mill Creek Road. But there's a whole watershed between the two Mill Creek Roads! That's why I assume they're different forks. No names on the maps I have available, though.

All told, today's hike was supposed to be six miles roundtrip. I would estimate the altitude gain at around 500 feet. Decent workout, but probably among the easier half of the hikes I've taken this year.


  1. That's a great hike! We live here and often take the opportunity to hike in the mountains. If you continue along the road instead of turning into the picnic area, you can come to signs that say "Championship Lodgepole Pine Tree" -check it out! It's not much of a hike, very easy. It's a beautiful area that has water and is very green. The Championship Lodgepole Pine tree is spectacular and well worth the easy hike. For more hiking trails in Big Bear Lake; http://www.bigbear.us/bigbearhiking.html

  2. Heh. Actually, I've been to the website. Couldn't find enough information for my needs on the San Bernardino NF website so I googled and came across the bigbear site. The Pineknot hike sounded good, so I wanted to do that. But I completely missed the turn for the picnic area. Fortunately, there's a Chamber of Commerce visitor center in town (found them by accident), and the young lady there knew of the hike and where the trailhead was located. She was able to point the street out on the detailed map from the chamber, and I eventually managed to find the street in real life.

    Probably easier to find these places if you have a co-pilot to look for signs!