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Big Bear - Champion Lodgepole Pine & Bluff Lake

Easy/Intermediate
 4.0 (2) RECOMMENDED ROUTE

A short, easy hike with splendid views.

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Map Key

0.5

Miles

0.9

KM

Point to Point

7,686' 2,343 m

High

7,592' 2,314 m

Low

3' 1 m

Up

97' 30 m

Down

3%

Avg Grade (2°)

11%

Max Grade (6°)

Dogs Leashed

Features Birding · Lake · Views · Wildflowers · Wildlife

Bluff Lake Reserve is private and subject to seasonal hours as prescribed by the Wildlands Conservancy.

Overview

A family friendly hike perfect for small children or older hikers. Enjoy a hike that takes in some of the Big Bear natural wonders.

Need to Know

The Bluff Lake Reserve is open seasonally.

Description

Starting at Forest Road 2N11, the hike begins on a small path that winds through the forest, between a severed tree and around some rocks before you find a fork in the trail. Heading left will lead directly to the Champion Lodgepole Pine Trail which takes the hiker to the locally famous tree.

The placard describes this massive tree and a little fence protects it. The tree stands guard over a nice meadow of wildflowers.

Stay on the trail and continue back to the original path to arrive at the Bluff Lake Reserve.

The Reserve is a private area managed by the Wildlands Conservancy and is subject to seasonal hours. While at the lake, you may encounter different kinds of waterfowl, blue jays, woodpeckers, and even fox and deer. Take your time enjoying the lake before heading back the way you arrived.

Flora & Fauna

Lodgepole pines, wildflowers, fox, deer, ducks, waterfowl, blue jays.

History & Background

Lodgepole pines are common in the Sierras where it is colder, but rare in southern California. Lodgepole pines seldom grow taller than 70 feet and in southern California they usually grow above 8,000 feet. An exception to these rules occurs high on the mountaintop about 3 miles south of Big Bear Lake near Bluff Lake. Bluff Lake is a shallow lake owned by the Wildlands Conservancy reserve that is surrounded by lush forest and green meadows.

Here at an elevation of 7,500 feet grow the largest lodgepole pines in the world. This small pocket of lodgepole pines is thought to be a remnant from a time when the climate was colder. The world "Champion" (discovered in 1963) is a magnificent, double-topped tree that towers above the surrounding forest reaching a height of 110+ feet. The circumference of the trunk at the bottom is 22 feet, however the bulbous base is 36 feet in circumference. Its age is estimated at 452 years, which means that it began to germinate in the year 1560.

Contacts

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Trail Ratings

  4.0 from 2 votes

#3750

Overall
  4.0 from 2 votes
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Recommended Route Rankings

#557

in California

#3,750

Overall
4 Views Last Month
672 Since Aug 18, 2019
Easy/Intermediate

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Photos

Pine tree placard
Aug 18, 2019 near Big Bea…, CA
Bluff Lake Reserve sign
Aug 18, 2019 near Big Bea…, CA

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Oct 15, 2022
Dylan Payne