Explore New Destinations
Welcome to the start of your own adventure in the San Bernardino National Forest! The SBNF is home to an abundance of resources, and the perfect terrain for off-highway enthusiasts. Over 679,380 acres in size and with more than 900 miles of SUV/4×4 routes and a total of 226 miles of off-road routes, the SBNF offers a variety of roads and trails for both advanced and beginner riders. Whether you are looking for the optimal challenge, or are a family who wants a relaxing day of sightseeing, the San Bernardino National Forest has something for everyone. While you are here, we encourage you to take time to enjoy the multitude of resources in our forest.
The San Bernardino National Forest is a natural refuge for wildlife adapted to a variety of ecosystems, from the desert floor up to alpine peaks. A plethora of wildlife call this place home: bears, mule deer, coyotes, fox, bald eagles, bats, rattlesnakes, and mountain lions, to name a few. You can visit unique habitats such as our high altitude pebble plains, with rare plants found only in the Big Bear area, or take a trip to the Big Bear Discovery Center to enjoy naturalist programs while learning about the history of our forest. While driving through Holcomb Valley, take a look around you and imagine what it was like in the late 1800s when gold miners settled into the valley looking to strike it rich. Take your jeep out to the John Bull trail and be challenged by the numerous boulder fields. Head up the Cajon Pass to Cleghorn Ridge for an easy ride to some beautiful views of the high desert and San Gabriel Mountains. Visit the San Jacinto District to play on their 11 green sticker routes. With the variety of terrain, abundant wildlife, and intriguing history and geology, chances are you’ll be on an exciting adventure before you know it.
Many Sites & Trails to Explore
OHV Trail and Safety Information
Emergency Dial 911
Forest Supervisor’s Office (909) 382-2600
Big Bear Discovery Center (909) 382-2790
Mill Creek Visitor Center (909) 382-2882
San Jacinto Ranger Station (909) 382-2921
- It is illegal to carry more passengers on an all-terrain vehicle than it was designed to carry.
- You must wear a safety helmet that meets the U.S. Department of Transportation standards.
- All vehicles must adhere to the appropriate designated trail size. The SBNF has trails rated for 24” and 50” vehicles. All other off-road vehicles must use green sticker legal roads.
- Utility-terrain vehicles are allowed on Green Sticker Designated Roads only.
- All riders under the age of 18 are required to have a State ATV Safety Certificate or be under the direct supervision of an adult who has proof of completing the safety course.
- All riders under the age of 14 must be under the direct supervision of a parent or guardian or an adult who is authorized by the parent or guardian, in addition to the above safety requirements.
Each route is labeled with the difficulty level. Road conditions can change seasonally.
Green Circle = Easiest
Dark Blue Square = More Difficult
Black Diamond= Most Difficult
To legally use an off-highway vehicle route, your vehicle must be depicted on the road or trail sign. Roads are identified with an “N” or “S” in the second character (example 3N34X) and trails are identified with an “E” or “W” in the second character. The fifth letter, if present, denotes an entirely new route.
Rules, Regulations, and Safety
- Mountains Community Hospital, 29101 Hospital Rd., Lake Arrowhead (909) 336-3651
- Bear Valley Community Hospital, 41870 Garstin Rd., Big Bear Lake, (909) 866-6501
- Idyllwild Health Center, 54910 Pinecrest Ave., Idyllwild (951) 659-4908 (open M-F, 8:30am-5:00pm)
Be a Responsible Rider
- Review regulations and current information.
- Learn and follow all of your local riding areas and national forest laws and regulations. “Know before you go.”
- Use up-to-date travel and trail maps to assure you only ride in permitted areas, and on designated open trails.
- Try to ride in groups for safety.
- Inspect and clean your vehicle before moving to a new location to remove seeds, weeds, and other vegetation, and prevent the transfer of non-native invasive species.
- Follow your vehicle manufacturer’s recommended maintenance schedule, and regularly check for any fluid leads or problems that might negatively impact the environment or your vehicle’s performance.
- Set a positive example, especially when riding in the presence of younger or less experienced riders, and always leave your riding area in better shape than you found it.
- Be aware of animal habitats including streams, food sources, and nesting areas. Stay on designated routes only and off sensitive terrain.
- Watch out for, and be considerate of others in the area including private property owners, hunters, hikers, campers, horseback riders, and other off-road vehicle drivers.
- Never chase or harass animals from your off-road vehicle, and never hunt or shoot a firearm from your vehicle.
- Laws that pertain to driving under the influence of alcohol and open containers on the highway are exactly the same off the highway. Never drink and drive.
- Pack it in..Pack it out, never leave trash in the forest.
- All motor vehicles not registered for highway use are required to have Green or Red Sticker Registration affixed to the vehicle in the designated location for that vehicle.
- Red Sticker vehicles may be operated from October 1st through April 30th (Mountaintop RD and Front Country RD) and October 1st through May 31st (San Jacinto RD).
- All vehicles are required to have a properly installed and operating U.S. Forest Service approved spark arrestor and muffler.
- All vehicles are required to meet State sound regulations: 96 DBH.
- All riders are required to carry proof of registration while operating any motorized vehicle on public lands.
It is illegal to exceed 15 mph within 50 ft. of any campground, campsite, or concentration of people or animals.
A National Forest Adventure Pass or an America the Beautiful Passport (Interagency Pass) is required for motor vehicles parked in recreation fee areas. The Adventure Pass is available at many locations across southern California. A pass is not required for off-highway vehicles with Green or Red Sticker Registration. For more information, contact your local Forest Service office. (link to pass sale sites)
Well behaved dogs are welcome in the forest. They should be properly restrained in your vehicle while riding, and on a 6’ leash when outside the vehicle. Make sure your pet is wearing identification. If camping, be aware there are limits of two dogs per site, and dogs must be kept inside during evening hours. Bring water for your dog and keep aware of its temperature when riding in hot or cold weather.
Visitors can stay at campgrounds near OHV roads and trails. Big Pine Flats Family, Crab Flats, and Horse Springs Campground are all conveniently located adjacent to green sticker routes. These sites have a per night fee with minimal amenities. For more information on these sites, visit the US Forest Service.
OHV camping is available at designated OHV staging. Visitors must display a Recreation Pass (Interagency or Adventure Pass) on all vehicles parked at the site each day. Campfires (wood or charcoal) are not permitted.
You may only have a campfire (wood or charcoal) in a fire ring provided and maintained by the San Bernardino National Forest in one of the following; Developed Campground, Developed Picnic Area or Yellow Post Campsite. If you choose to camp or picnic outside of a developed site, only gas and propane stoves are allowed with a valid California Campfire Permit. Dry California summers sometimes bring special fire use restrictions. YOU MUST CHECK FOR CURRENT FIRE RESTRICTIONS.
Enjoying the forest includes leaving it cleaner than you found it for your return and future generations. Please bag and remove all trash you create while riding or camping. Put your sealed trash in marked trash containers or take it with you. Animals such as bears, raccoons, and coyotes get into bags left on the ground and move them throughout the forest. It’s not only unhealthy for wildlife but unsightly for everyone. Do your part to keep our forest clean.
Trails and Destinations
Big Bear Discovery Center
The Big Bear Discovery Center is your gateway to information and discovery. Located at 40971 North Shore Dr./Hwy. 38 in Fawnskin, the Discovery Center is a hub for everything you need to recreate off road…OHV and camping information, maps, Adventure Passes, and more. We welcome over 190,000 visitors a year to experience exhibits, weekly programs, and eco-tours. Enjoy special events like outdoor concerts, theater productions, and nighttime interpretive programs in the Big Bear Discovery Center Amphitheater. Check the webpage for current hours of operation.
Looking for a unique forest experience or great family activity? The fire lookout towers on the San Bernardino National Forest are staffed by dedicated volunteers and open to the public from Spring through Fall. Visit any or all of these special towers to view the forest from the mountaintop. You will learn how these highly trained individuals spot fires, the instruments they use, the history of the lookouts, as well as enjoying the incredible views. Check our website for hours and call ahead to confirm when roads are open.
You will experience everything from Jeffery pines to Joshua trees as you make your way from the forest to the desert. Upon your arrival in Pioneertown, there is lots of history to explore. Pioneertown was built in the 1940s as a real town that could be used as a western movie set. Starting on Baldwin Lake Rd. take Vale Dr. and turn left onto the Big Bear to Pioneertown OHV route (2N02) also known as Burns Canyon Road. This is a moderate 19.2-mile point-to-point trail located near Big Bear City that offers scenic views of the San Bernardino National Forest into Yucca Valley. Four-wheel drive and high clearance vehicles are recommended as the road can be bumpy in parts as you pass through Arrastre Creek, Rose Mine Valley, and desert washes. There are also some challenging 4WD routes leading off of this route.
With the entrance located just down the road from the Big Bear Discovery Center, the route through Holcomb Valley will take you on a journey back in time. Start your trek by picking up a Gold Fever Trail brochure at the Big Bear Discovery Center. The brochure starts your 11.4 mi. journey at Polique Canyon Rd. on the north side of Big Bear Lake and will guide you through 12 scenic stops of gold rush history and information on those points of interest. This adventure will get you out of your vehicle for short hikes and give you great views of the valley and scenic vistas of Baldwin Lake. Road conditions vary depending on the weather. 4WD and/or high clearance vehicles are recommended. This is a great family activity and historical tour for the entire family.
John Bull Trail
If you are looking for a challenge, this 3-mile jeep trail along Forest Road 3N10 is considered the most difficult trail (black diamond) in the Big Bear area. Be prepared for steep climbs with large rock boulders and numerous rock gardens. Short wheelbase vehicles will benefit in sections. High clearance and differential lockers are recommended. There are beautiful forest views from around 8,000 ft in elevation.
Gold Mountain Trail
Another challenge is this 12.4-mile 4WD loop (3N69) that takes you up Gold Mountain, an area revered by the native Serranos, and into the gold mining territory of Holcomb Valley. This is a black diamond road with a few difficult rock gardens. Vehicles with a short wheelbase are recommended. You will discover great views of Baldwin Lake and pass by some old mining tailings. Always stay on the designated route as you will encounter some sensitive plant habitat and cultural sites along the way.
Coxey Truck Trail
There are numerous Forest and BLM routes leading in and out of the Deep Creek Drainage near Apple Valley and even hot springs to hike to. Starting from Fawnskin, take Rim of the World Drive to the FS dirt road 3N14. 3N14 will take you past the tall trees and meadows of Big Pine Flats Campground to the desert floor while offering great views of the high desert and mountains. From Big Pine Flats you can take 3N16 out to Crab Flats towards Lake Arrowhead or stay on 3N14 down to scenic BLM lands.
If you are looking for excellent desert and mountain views consider this popular route. This route is rated Green Circle, the easiest if you stay on the main route, but always be cognizant of weather conditions when traveling. There are also several “more difficult” and “most difficult” jeep routes stemming from this main route to choose from. Following 2N47 from Summit Valley, this 15.2-mile road is open to OHV vehicles and runs from the Cleghorn off-ramp on Interstate 15 in Cajon Pass over Cleghorn ridge to State Highway 138 at Lake Silverwood. The Summit Staging Area off of Hwy 138 is an excellent place to start your adventure, offload your ATV’s, use the restroom, or have a picnic. An Adventure Pass is required.
Forest Road 3N21-3N24 north of the staging area is also for Green sticker OHV`s and High-clearance 4WD vehicles with license plates. Starting at the Hwy 138/Interstate 15 confluence, take dirt road FS 3N21 street-legal route, rated “Green Circle Easiest” approximately 1.5 miles to “Trestles,” the Baldy Mesa Staging Area. On your way in, you will pass through some interesting history (the remains of the original route 66) and geology, where recently the ancient remains of camels and horses were discovered in the hillside. Once arrived, you can watch trains pass overhead while you unload your vehicles. An Adventure Pass is required. 3N21 connects to 3N24 Baldy Mesa Road. Stay left for green sticker vehicles and right for street legal vehicles only. 3N24 left will take you further up into the Cajon Pass into the high desert habitat where travelers on the Spanish Trail once passed. This area is popular for ATV and MC riding with several trails to choose from, such as black diamond and 50” trails stemming off of 3N24.
This 4.1-mile OHV Road is located within the San Jacinto District and runs just north of State Route 74 (east of the Cranston Fire Station) to the San Jacinto Ridge 5S07/5S09 route. 5S09 takes you from the desert to the trees and is considered a scenic route. There is year-round water crossing at the North fork, which is a great place to cool off on a hot day. Please do not drive your motor vehicles through the water here though, as this beautiful place is also home to sensitive species such as the lemon lily and yellow-legged frog. The next 5 miles up from the water crossing is also sensitive habitat so please stay on the official road. About a mile from the water crossing there are two yellow post sites for camping and OHV camping is allowed.
Hixon-Bautista and Allesandro Trails
Located off of Bautista Canyon Road of the San Jacinto District these trails offer some challenging black diamond motorcycle and ATV opportunities. The Hixon-Bautista is 50” vehicles or less and the Allesandro trail is 24” vehicles or less. Both trails cross the Bautista Canyon Wild and Scenic River which flows seasonally through this spectacular canyon.
Not all motor vehicles can be driven legally on all roads and trails. The following sites are areas where you can legally access off-highway vehicle routes with Green or Red Sticker Registered ATVs and motorcycles. All of our staging areas offer restrooms, trash containers, picnic tables, and areas to park and unload trailers. An Adventure Pass or the Interagency Pass is required to support the operation and maintenance of these sites.
The staging area is on Highway 173 north of Lake Arrowhead. There is a vault toilet and a couple of picnic tables at the staging area along with ample parking and informational signs. From Hwy18, turn north on Daley Cyn. Rd. (east of Rimforest). Turn left on Hwy189. Turn right on Grass Valley Rd. and continue past the golf course. Look for a sign indicating Grass Valley Rd. and turn left. Follow Grass Valley Rd. until it ends at Hwy173. Drive 1 ½ miles, turn right on Forest Road 3N34.