Pacific Southwest Region Viewing Area
Alpine Pedal Path
Forest: San Bernardino National Forest
District: Mountaintop Ranger District
Description: The Mountaintop Ranger District is one of three districts within the San Bernardino National Forest. The main attraction in this area is Big Bear Lake at an elevation of approximately 6792 feet surrounded by numerous peaks including Delamar Peak (8,398 feet) to the North and Sugarloaf Peak (9,952 feet) to the south. Besides numerous recreation opportunities, these mountains consist of locations with some of the highest biological diversity in the state of California. For instance, numerous plant species exist only in the San Bernardino Mountains and nowhere else in the world (endemic). This area is often referred to as the "island of endemism" for this reason.
Viewing Information: The paved Pedal Path has three main access points including Juniper Point, Stanfield Cutoff, the Discovery Center and Serrano Campground. The best wildflower viewing occurs during the months of May through July however, there are a variety of shrubs and perennial herbs that continuously bloom along the trail year-round. Plant species vary across a rainfall gradient that extends from the east end of the Pedal Path to the west end. A beautiful montane meadow is located near the Juniper Point entrance where tall Juniperus occidentalis (western juniper) trees can be observed just to the west. The east end consists of drier plant communities dominated by Artemisia tridentata (big sagebrush) and Ericameria nauseosa (rabbitbrush) while the west end towards the Solar Observatory consists of plant communities that require more moisture including Salix lasiolepis Shrubland Alliance. Some showy annual herbs include Abronia nana ssp. covillei (desert sand verbena) Sisyrinchium idahoense (blue-eyed grass), Penstemon labrosus (San Gabriel beard tongue), and Lupinus excubitus (grape soda lupine).
Safety First: Due to a high frequency of visitors during summer months it is essential to keep awareness up while driving and walking in high traffic areas. This is a high elevation area and there is potential to experience altitude sickness and magnified solar radiation. It is important to be prepared with sunscreen, plenty of water, and an appetite for wildflower viewing!
Directions: There are multiple access routes depending on which side of the mountains you are traveling:
- If traveling from San Bernardino (south side of the Forest) take Highway 330 north to Highway 18 and head east toward Fawnskin on Highway 38 (at the dam Highway 18 heads along the south side of Big Bear Lake and Highway 38 extends along the north side of the lake).
- If traveling from Redlands/Yucaipa area (east side of the Forest), take Lugonia Ave. east to Highway 38 and head northwest toward Big Bear City turn left when the highway comes to a T. Take a right at Stanfield Cutoff.
- If traveling from the Mojave Desert take Highway 18 the entire way passing Baldwin Lake until one of the access points is reached.
Ownership and Management: U.S. Forest Service, San Bernardino National Forest, Mountaintop Ranger District. Phone (909) 382-2600 or (909) 382-2797.
Closest Town: Big Bear Lake, California.
Additional Information: San Bernardino National Forest Botanists Kerry Myers and Scott Eliason compiled a plant species list during the spring of 2005. See the Alpine Pedal Path Brochure (PDF, 204 KB) to view the list and a map of the area. Also view the San Bernardino National Forest's Alpine Pedal Path web page.