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U.S. Forest Service

Pacific Southwest Region Viewing Area


Penstemon caesius San Bernardino beardtongue (Penstemon caesius). Photo by Chris Wagner.

Aquilegia formosa Western columbine (Aquilegia formosa). Photo by Tommy Stoughton.

Eriophyllum lanatum var. obovatum Southern Sierra wooly sunflower (Eriophyllum lanatum var. obovatum). Photo by Tommy Stoughton.

The Champion Lodgepole Pine The Champion Lodgepole Pine (Pinus contorta). Photo by Michael Charters.

A man and two women looking at flowers in a Champion Lodgepole Pine meadow. A Champion Lodgepole Pine meadow. Photo by Gina Richmond.

Champion Lodgepole Pine Trail

Forest: San Bernardino National Forest

District: Mountaintop Ranger District

Description: The Mountaintop Ranger District encompasses an incredibly diverse section of the San Bernardino Mountains. Due to variations in local topography, climate and geology, the San Bernardino Mountains contain the highest number of endemic plant species of any National Forest. The Champion Lodgepole Pine Trail is an easy one-mile round trip hike located on the south side of Big Bear Lake. The trail features a wet meadow and mature conifers including the largest recorded lodgepole pine (Pinus contorta) in California! The self-guided trail has 14 numbered posts that correspond to an interpretive guide which is available at the trailhead. The guide highlights the unique diversity and natural history of the area. For those looking for a longer hike with additional wildflower viewing opportunities, the Siberia Creek Trail junction is near the Champion tree: watch for the sign.

Viewing Information: The hike begins by crossing over a small wooden footbridge where a year-round stream parallels the trail. Spring wildflowers include kelloggia (Kelloggia galioides), columbine (Aquilegia formosa),andAmerican speedwell (Veronica americana). Large boulders, old growth white fir and Jeffery pine punctuate the views along the trail and provide ideal habitat for San Bernardino beardtongue (Penstemon caesius), great red paintbrush (Castilleja miniata ssp. miniata), white catchfly (Silene verecunda),and woolly sunflower (Eriophyllum lanatum var. obovatum). The surrounding meadow is especially beautiful in the spring and presents a diverse assortment of native flora throughout the growing season including western mountain aster (Symphyotrichum spathulatum var. spathulatum), corn lilies (Veratrum californicum), Parish’s yampah (Perideridia parishii), ranger’s buttons (Sphenosciadium capitellatum), and bracken fern (Pteridium aquilinum). As with any sensitive area, please stay on the trail and respect the nearby private property.

Safety First: The road is not plowed in the winter and can retain moisture late into the spring, be sure to check the road conditions before you travel. The summer months are usually hot, it is important to bring plenty of water and wear sunscreen. Summer thunderstorms are common at higher elevations so be prepared for changing weather conditions. A high clearance vehicle is recommended.

Directions: From State Highway 18, turn south on either Tulip Lane or Mill Creek Road (they intersect), watch for Forest Service road 2N10 and follow for 4.5 miles. Turn right on 2N11 and continue for 1 mile to the trail. Trail guides are available at the trailhead or the Big Bear Discovery Center.

Ownership and Management: U.S. Forest Service, Mountaintop Ranger District, San Bernardino National Forest. Phone (909) 382-2600 or 382-2797.

Closest Town: Big Bear Lake, California

For More Information:

The Big Bear Discovery Center Located on 40971 North Shore Drive/ Hwy 38, Fawnskin CA 92333 Ph: (909) 382-2790