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Barton Flats Campground

Google Map Coordinates: Latitude: 34.170000 / Longitude: -116.886390

Barton Flats Camping Guide Continued

Barton Flats is one of the more developed Forest Service camps in Southern California and sits among towering pines trees at 6,300 feet elevation. The area offers a variety of activities including: wildlife watching, horseback riding, swimming in a cold mountain lake, stargazing, mountain biking, fishing, picnicking, hiking, and camping among majestic pines and towering firs.

Location – Directions

In Big Bear City, CA, at the intersection of Greenspot Rd. and Big Bear Blvd., take Greenspot Rd. (State Rt. 38) south 20.6 miles to campground sign. Turn right at sign into campground.

Ranger District Office
Big Bear
P.O.B. 290
North Shore Dr.
Fawnskin, California 92333

General Information

The elevation is 6,500 ft.

Open year round.

Rate: $20 per day - single
$40 per day - double

NOTE: $2 per day additional on holidays.
Maximum Stay Permitted (days): 14

No. RV Sites: 0
No. Tent Sites: 0
No. Combined Sites (Tent or RV): 52
Total Sites: 52

Tent Pads: No
Group Tent Sites: Yes
Open Sites: Yes
Wooded Sites: Yes

No. Tables on Sites: 52
No. Grilles on Sites: 52

Hookups: None
Group RV Sites: Yes
No. RV Pull Throughs: 0
Waste Station: Yes
Potable Water at Waste Station: Yes
Average Parking Apron Size: 14' X 48'

The parking aprons are paved. The RV waste station is available for a fee.

Vaults: No
Flush Toilets: Yes
Hot Showers: Yes
Wheelchair Friendly Toilets: Yes
Public Phone: No
Playground: No
No. Water Spigots (non-site): 13
No. Threaded: 0
The hot showers are located at Columbine Loop


Rio Monte Trail #1E28 (foot) - 2.5 miles
One mile connector to Santa Ana Trail #2E03 (foot & horse) – 36 miles


Points of Interest
Big Bear Lake

Boating is permitted on Big Bear Lake. All types of boating activity are allowed including: water skiing, sailing, fishing, personal watercraft, float tubes, kayaking, canoeing and sailboarding. The maximum boat length is 26', and all vessels must have a boat permit for Big Bear Lake. Privately owned boats can be launched or you can rent one from a local marina. The District has two public launch ramps on the North shore of the Lake where there is no cost for launching. Click above for the rules and regulations specific to Big Bear Lake.

Big Bear Lake is a premiere rainbow trout fishery and also boasts a good population of largemouth and smallmouth bass, catfish, crappie, and bluegill. The Lake is stocked regularly throughout the year by the California Department of Fish and Game. The Fishing Association of Big Bear Lake and the October Troutfest also stock trout in conjunction with their annual fishing tournaments. Additionally, the District cage raises approximately 1000 trophy trout to be planted each spring in order to augment the fish numbers.

Swimming is allowed within 50' of the shore, unless otherwise posted. There is a designated swim beach at Meadow Park run through Big Bear Valley Recreation and Park District

There are a number of private marinas on Big Bear Lake.

Big Bear Marina (909) 866-3218
Offers the best mountain lake fishing and water sport adventures in Southern California. You may choose to cruise the lake in one of our comfortable pontoon boats that can accommodate up to 12 people, or spend the day fishing for rainbow trout, bass, catfish or panfish from our outboard fishing boats. For those looking for the wilder side, we have jet skis, water skiing and wake boarding available, or you can get a good workout plying the waters of Big Bear Lake in a pedal boat, canoe or kayak. Our facility has a launch ramp, slip rentals and we sell fishing licenses, bait, tackle, beer, soda, snacks and gift items. Big Bear Marina is home of the Big Bear Queen lake tours as well as professional fishing guide services to ensure a memorable day on the lake. We have ample parking and welcome large coaches and buses. Big Bear Marina is open 7 days a week, sunrise to sunset from April to November, weather permitting. Located near the Village at 500 Paine Road at Lakeview Drive.

Pine Knot Landing (909) 866-7766
Pine Knot Landing is a full service marina located at the foot of the village on Pine Knot Ave. We offer rentals of fishing boats, pontoon boats, speed boats, canoes, and kayaks. We offer parasailing, waterskiing, and jet skiing. We have slip and mooring buoys for rent, we sell gas and have a complete marine hardware and repair facility including boat sales.

Pleasure Point Marina (909) 866-6463
Pontoon boats, canoes and pedal boat rentals. Lake permits, fishing licenses and supplies available. Open 6:00 AM to 6:00 PM daily, May to November, otherwise as weather and lake conditions permit. Suzuki authorized repairs. Premier and Voyager Pontoon dealer. Winter boat storage available. 603 Landlock Landing Road.

Halloway's Marina & RV Park (800) 448-5335

North Shore Landing (909) 878-4386

Barton Flats Visitor Center

The Barton Flats Visitor Center is the center of activities for the campgrounds in the area. Informal programs are presented with display animals from the San Bernardino County Museum. The Barton Flats area is home to over 20 organizational camps that attract up to 30,000 campers every year. San Gorgonio Wilderness Association (SGWA) members develop and present interpretive programs for over a thousand children each year. Nature walks and interpretive programs are also presented to campers from the four area family campgrounds on summer weekends. One of the most popular programs for the last three years has been an informal astronomy presentation, giving campers a chance to peek at the heavens without the city pollution.

In the late 1970's, the Forest Service closed the Barton Flats Visitor Center. In 1986, the Defenders reopened the Visitor Center, and a year later the SGWA took over the responsibility of caring for the Center and its visitors -- which continues to this day. The Center is totally staffed by volunteers and serves up to 10,000 visitors each summer.

Be sure to come by and visit the annual Forest Festival held in mid-August. Smokey Bear provides a warm welcome to up to 1000 visitors. This is a day for the public to get a taste of the Forest. Volunteers provide camping and fishing tips, puppet shows, and crafts. One of the most popular activities involves helping youngsters use a crosscut saw to create a 'tree cookie' that is then branded with both a Forest Service and Smokey logo.

Big Bear Museum

Big Bear's storied mining past, where Southern California's largest gold rush unfolded, is well represented at the Big Bear Museum. There is an array of equipment that came directly from the local mines and mining towns such as Dolbe, Holcomb Valley and Belleville. Big Bear Historical Museum, open weekends May through October, offers a walk through the colorful and romantic history of Big Bear. It is located just east of the airport in the Big Bear City Park on Greenway Drive.

Big Bear Discovery Center

The Big Bear Discovery Center is your gateway to adventure and discovery in the great outdoors. The Center is an educational and informational portal to the San Bernardino National Forest and is located within the heart of the Big Bear Valley. The Center is located in Fawnskin on HWY 38/North Shore Drive (909/866-3437). This information center is run by the Forest Service and is the center for information on the use of the surrounding National Forest. Exhibits at the discovery center offer information about every aspect of our natural wonderland. The gift shop has excellent hiking and biking maps and books on local flowers, trees and animals. Much information about hiking is available free at the Discovery Center.

Our services include:

  • Adventure Passes
  • Hiking and biking maps
  • Camping information
  • Maps of forest roads and off-highway vehicle adventures
  • Forest Service permits
  • Naturalist-led interpretive programs and events
  • Customized group tours and events for private parties and school groups
Big Bear Zoon / Moonridge Animal Park

The Big Bear Zoo / Moonridge Animal Park is one of the few places in the world where you can see the ultra-endangered snow leopard, and many other animals including the Canadian lynx, bobcat, mountain lions, foxes, bison, mule deer, bald eagles, snakes and black and grizzly bears. Admission is $9 per person. Seniors and children 3 to 10 get in for $6, and children under 3 are free. You can find the Moonridge Animal Park at 43285 Goldmine Drive across from Bear Mountain Ski Resort.


Big Bear offers the best hiking in Southern California. From logging roads to trails to cross country jaunts, there is a path for everyone who enjoys seeing nature on their own two feet. Big Bear features many different microclimates. While the general climate is Alpine, large areas in the East Valley and in Cactus Flats have High Desert climate and scattered throughout the valley are pockets of marshes, springs, meadows and wetlands.

The most famous hiking trail in the Valley is probably the Pacific Crest Trail. This trail runs from Mexico to Canada and the section that runs through Big Bear is easily accessible from a number of points and can then be hiked as a day hike. This is a good trail because it is so well marked and because even in the Valley it goes through a number of microclimates and terrains. A book or map is necessary in order to find access points and a car or contact needs to be waiting at your exit point.

For an easy family hike, try the Woodland Trail. This is a 1½ mile loop is an interpretive trail that offers a self-guided tour of this dry-woodland area. The trail starts off HWY 38 about .2 miles west of Stanfield Cutoff and is well marked and has plenty of parking at the trail head.

For another easy hike that is farther from civilization, try the Champion Lodgepole Pine Trail. This hike is through a forest of Jeffrey Pines, Lodgepole Pines and White Firs. The trail is about a half a mile long and ends at one of the largest Lodgepole Pines in California. There is a small stream and meadows in this area, so the vegetation is lush and satisfying to experience. This is also a self-guided trail with stations of information for those who are interested in knowing the names of trees and plants in this area. To get to this trail, take Mill Creek Road (Forest Road 2N10) for approximately 4½ miles. Stay to the right on 2N11 and continue for another mile to the well-marked trail head. If it has been raining, the road may be too rough for non-four wheel drive vehicles.

A moderate hike with beautiful views of Big Bear Lake at the summit, Gray's Peak Trail is highly recommended. This 7 mile round trip hike begins across from the Grout Bay Picnic area in Fawnskin (1/2 mil west of Fawnskin on HWY 38). This a steady uphill climb through dry forest with rewarding scenery all the way.

Maps to these and other trails are available at the Discovery Center and at Alpine Sports Center (909/866-7541). But pre-set trails are not the only way to hike the area. The National Forest surrounding Big Bear is loaded with dirt roads that lead to more dirt roads. Often these tracks are completely isolated and run through some of the most beautiful parts of the forest. Some are accessible by the family car and others require a 4-wheel drive vehicle, but they all lead into the wilderness experience. Families with small children may find this a better way to access the forest. Drive in, spread the blanket and picnic. Hike up and down the road you came in on. Chances are you won't see another person the whole afternoon. Many forest roads cross streams and small marshlands which attract wildlife.

Alpine Pedal Path Very Easy 3.5 miles long
This asphalt path meanders along the sparkling north shore of Big Bear Lake from the Stanfield Cutoff to the Solar Observatory. Although not flat by any means, its ups and downs are fairly gentle. In the Fall of 1998 the path was extended through a pedestrian tunnel under Highway 38 to the Cougar Crest Trail parking lot. The new path continues east .6 of a mile and connects with the Big Bear Discovery Center. There hikers can find water, bathrooms, and expert advice on all varieties of recreation in the San Bernardino National Forest.

Woodland Trail 1E23 Easy 1.5 miles long
This path starts and ends at the trailhead off Highway 38 just .2 miles west of the Stanfield Cutoff. It is an interpretive trail with 20 posted markers, ideal for families with young children. By picking up a pamphlet at the entrance, hikers can take themselves on a self-guided tour to learn about the botany, wildlife and geology of this unique area which is described as a dry woodland.

Champion Lodgepole Pine Trail IW11 Easy .6 miles Round Trip

Bluff Mesa Trail 1W16 Easy .8 miles Round Trip
To get to the Champion Lodgepole Pine Trailhead, which is on the south side of Big Bear Lake, you drive up Mill Creek Road (Forest Road 2N10) for 4.5 miles, turn right on 2N11 and continue for 1 mile to the trailhead. Then it's a gentle walk down a path along a small steam for .3 miles. The trail ends at the Champion Lodgepole Pine, one of the largest known Lodgepole pines in California. Adjacent to the Champion Lodgepole Pine is a beautiful meadow, a tapestry of wildflowers in the spring. An interpretive brochure for the 15 markers is available at the trailhead and at the Discovery Center. So please stay on the trails.

A companion path is the Bluff Mesa Trail which begins where the Champion Lodgepole Pine Trail ends and travels in a northerly direction for .4 miles, ending at the popular Bluff Mesa Group Camp. This continuation trail is easy and recommended for families who would like a leisurely walk through beautiful stands of stately Jeffrey Pine. No bicycles.

Castle Rock Trail 1W03 Moderate to Difficult 2.4 miles Round Trip
There is very limited parking on the south side of the highway 50 yards east of the trailhead.

The most popular trail in the Big Bear Valley begins 1.1 miles east of the dam on Highway 18. Although not a long hike, the elevation gain is 500 feet, making it a steep climb by any standards. At the top of the ridge is an impressive granite rock out-cropping and the source of many tales and local folklore. If you trust your rock climbing skills and can claw your way on top of the rocks, the view of the lake is wonderful. The best part of this hike is that it's downhill all the way home.

Pineknot Trail 1E01 Moderate to Difficult 6 miles Round Trip.
The trail begins at the Aspen Glen Picnic Area and runs in a generally southerly direction until it reaches the aptly named Grand View Point, altitude 7,784. For the first 1.5 miles the hiker shares the trail with equestrian and mountain bike traffic as the trail winds its way up through stands of white fir and Jeffrey pine. Serious hikers make the 6 mile round trip in 3 hours or less. A family who plans to picnic at Grand View Point should plan on spending half the day leisurely enjoying the forest, the mountains and a great view of Big Bear Lake.

Gray's Peak Trail 1W06 Moderate to Difficult 7 miles Round Trip

Hanna Flat Trail 1W05 Moderate 9 miles Round Trip
This trailhead is in the center of a bald eagle wintering habitat area and is closed to all public use from November 1 to April 1. The trailhead for Gray's Peak is located on the west side of Highway 38 about .6 miles west of Fawnskin across from the Grout Bay Picnic Area. The trail climbs westerly for .5 miles until it merges with forest road 2N04X. Turning north (right), 2N04X joins Forest Road 2N70 after .25 miles. Go straight; do not turn left. Then continue to the beginning of the Grays Peak Trail, 200 yards on your left. From there it is 2.75 miles to the top of Gray's Peak. The trail fades as you get .25 miles from the summit, 7,920 feet, and it becomes increasingly more difficult as you climb up through buckthorn and over and around boulders.

The Hanna Flat Trail begins 50 yards past the Gray's Peak Trail Sign on the right and continues for 4 miles to the Hanna Flat Campground.

Cougar Crest Trail 1E22 Moderate to Difficult 4 to 5.5 miles Round Trip
You can park for free until 6:00 PM in the summer at the Discovery Center and walk the .6 miles to the trailhead. A well-maintained path through a wide variety of natural environments distinguishes the Cougar Crest. It starts .6 miles west of the Discovery Center on Highway 38. In the first mile there's only a gentle uphill increase, but in second mile, you'll realize that you're gaining serious altitude. The Cougar Crest Trail ends at the junction of the Pacific Crest Trail (no mountain bikes), and a lot of hikers like to continue to the east (right) on a dirt maintenance road for .6 miles until they reach the summit of Bertha Peak, 8,502 feet. The peak is easily recognized by the large collection of transmitting equipment at the top. From the summit there's a virtual 360 degree view of the Big Bear Valley, Holcomb Valley, and even the Mojave Desert.

Camp Creek National Recreation Trail 1W09 Very Steep and Difficult 7.2 miles Round Trip
This trail begins .4 miles east of the Main Gate of the Snow Valley Ski Resort at the 2N97 Forest Road turnout. Signage at the trailhead will direct you to the Camp Creek Trail which 2N97 intersects in .3 miles. It is a very steep trail with an elevation change of 2,000 feet. It terminates at Bear Creek.

Sugarloaf National Recreation Trail 2E18 Difficult 10 miles Round Trip
From the south end of Stanfield Cutoff on Big Bear Boulevard (Highway 38), continue for 6 miles heading south toward Redlands. Turn right on 2N93 at the intersection of Highway 38 and Hatchery Road. Follow this dirt road until you reach the Sugarloaf Trail sign and park in the turnout. The first 2 miles is a dirt road, which at times follows Green Creek. Although the view from the summit of Sugarloaf Mountain is mostly obscured by trees, you have climbed to an altitude of 9,952 feet, the highest point in the Big Bear Valley.

Glory Ridge Trail 1W02 Very Difficult and Not Recommended 2 miles Round Trip
The turnout to the trailhead is 2 miles west of the Big Bear Lake dam on Highway 18, just after the Highway reduces from two lanes to one. Drive down rutted Forest Road 2N15. Turn right at the fork onto a dirt road. Drive slowly and park on a knoll at the road's end. Follow the trail .25 miles to the trailhead which marked by a "Fishermen" sign. Now the trail becomes very strenuous, dropping 1,100 feet in 1 mile! Climbing down is treacherous; climbing out is exhausting.

Siberia Creek Trail Easy to Extremely Difficult 7 miles Round Trip
Park at the same trailhead as the Championship Lodgepole Pine Trail: To get to the Champion Lodgepole Pine Trailhead, which is on the south side of Big Bear Lake, you drive up Mill Creek Road (Forest Road 2N10) for 4.5 miles, turn right on 2N11 and continue for .5 miles, passing the turn-off for the tree. You will traverse and then parallel trickling Siberia Creek for 1.5 miles until you reach the "Gunsight." This rock formation is two huge boulders which were named because they resemble the massive rear gunsight of a rifle. If you are in excellent shape and choose to continue down to Siberia Creek, be aware that the trail has been obliterated by many rockslides. It is also very steep with an elevation change of 3,000 feet.

This trail is not maintained by the Forest Service.

San Gorgonio Wilderness Hike Moderate and Difficult Trails

Points of Interest: pine and fir forests, lush subalpine meadows, sparkling streams, placid lakes, wildlife (particularly deer, bighorn sheep and black bears). Look for Dollar Lake, Dry Lake, San Gorgonio Peak, San Bernardino Peak, Fish Creek, and Aspen Grove. Popular Wilderness trailheads are South Fork, Aspen Grove, Fish Creek, Forsee Creek, San Bernardino Peak, Momyer, and Vivian Creek. You can hike for a couple of hours or for a week. Be sure to get advice from Forest Service staff while planning your trip. There are no easy trails in the Wilderness! In picking a trail, be sure you watch the elevation gains that will be made on the hike. The most popular route is from South Fork Trail, climbing 4,700 feet to the top of San Gorgonio. Round trip is 21.5 miles. It's recommended as a 2-day (or longer) hike. The steepest but shortest route to San Gorgonio is from the Vivian Creek Trailhead near Forest Falls: 15.6 miles round trip with a 5,300 feet elevation gain.

Permits: free Wilderness permit and Adventure Pass. Permits can be obtained in person at the Mill Creek Ranger Station, Barton Flats Visitor Center (summer only), and the Big Bear Discovery Center. You can request a permit application by mail or fax up to three months in advance. Permits are issued on a quota basis. When the daily quota for a trailhead has been filled, no additional permits will be issued for that area.

Trailheads: Most of the trailheads are in the Barton Flats area. Pick up a description of the trails at the Ranger Station.

Other Activities & Attractions

Big Bear also has an year round bobsled and water slides at the Alpine Slide located ¼ mile west of the Village Shopping on the main boulevard.

You can also take the Scenic Skychair up to Snow Summits View Haus at 8,200 feet and enjoy a meal. It's a 20 minute ride to the top of the mountain with breathtaking views of Big Bear Lake and the town below.

Mountain biking at its best. Ride the Sky Chair to the top and then travel the scenic bike trails, or ride the gentle North Shore bike path. See "Just A Walk In The Woods" for more complete information on mountain-biking trails. Bike rentals for all levels of riders are available from many of Big Bear's fine sport shops.

There are four family campgrounds in the area, as well as the Wildhorse Equestrian Campground; picnicking, swimming, and non-motorized boating at Jenks Lake; interpretive talks and special events at Greyback Amphitheatre and Barton Flats Visitor Center; hiking and horseback riding on the Santa Ana River Trail; car tours along Glass Road, River Road, Coon Creek Road, and Jenks Lake Road.

Back to Barton Flats Campground Photos