Description - Clean air, blue skies, mountain lakes, challenging trails, and beautiful views of the valley below are some of the surprises awaiting visitors to the San Bernardino Mountains. During the spring and fall, clouds cover the valley floor, and the mountains are bathed in sunlight. The lush green forest slopes are like islands rising above the sea of civilization.
Most of the mountaintop is public land. The Forest Service is the largest land manager, but there are also state and county parks. Over twenty thousand people make their home here, and the resorts of Arrowhead and Big Bear attract thousands of visitors.
The forest is a complex community of many kinds of wild animals including black bear, raccoon, gray squirrel, coyote, and perhaps a mountain lion or bobcat in the warmer areas. The Arrowhead District is on the route of many migratory birds, along with the great bald eagle, which visits during the winter months with their young, from Alaska and other colder northern areas. The bold stellar jay and the acorn woodpecker are the most easily observed of the great variety of birds on the District. Most of the trout in the streams are placed there each year, but in a few remote areas native trout swim in the cold, fresh creeks.
- The Arrowhead Ranger District abounds with recreational opportunities. It has hiking trails that range in elevation from 3,000 to over 7,000 feet. The trails can range from moderate to more difficult with a variety of scenery from woodland flowers to mountain pines. The Pacific Crest National Scenic Trail parallels 15 miles of Deep Creek offering a wide range of vista points overlooking the drainage. Deep Creek's 23 miles of large pools and tall waterfalls provide excellent scenic enjoyment. Mountain biking is permitted on all OHV and hiking trails except the Pacific Crest Trail.
Four family campgrounds offer modern amenities and group accommodations. Those with motorized vehicles are invited to overnight at Crab Flats Campground located near Green Valley Lake. Campgrounds are available by reservation and group campgrounds are attainable through the Ranger Station. Fees are charged for all developed campsites. For those who want to get away from people and designated campgrounds may camp in the woods with a visitor's permit. No fees charged for remote camping.
Baylis Park and Switzer are the two picnic sites; both have handicapped access but only Switzer has drinking water on site. Generally, the picnic areas are equipped with tables, stoves or barbecues, and vault toilets.
OHV enthusiasts might enjoy the 90 miles of designated routes that run through the Arrowhead District. Rules are strictly enforced!
Anglers may enjoy fishing at one of the three lakes open to the public. These are stocked by the California Department of Fish and Game. Or, if stream fishing is preferred, Deep Creek or Holcomb Creek is where native brown trout can be found. However, only barbless hooks and artificial lures are permitted at Deep Creek. Lake Arrowhead is no longer open to the public. See Contact Information for District lake phone numbers.
Bird watchers may wish to participate in the "Eagle Count" held each December through March.
Several detailed maps, describing 22 adventures on the mountaintop, are available for $1.50 each at the Big Bear Discovery Center. You can also purchase guides to mountain bike trails, off-highway vehicle roads and hiking trails at the Big Bear Discovery Center.
Fuel wood may be collected by purchasing a permit at the Ranger Station; rules and regulations must be strictly adhered to.
Recreation - Recreations on Arrowhead include a variety of camping and fishing options, motorized vehicular use, picnicking, swimming, canoeing, bird watching, nature study, wildlife and wildflower observation.
Forest visitors on the San Bernardino, Cleveland, Angeles and Los Padres National Forests of Southern California are required to purchase an Adventure Pass and display it on their vehicle when parked in the Forest. The cost is $5 per day or $30 per year and can be purchased in any Forest Service office or over 350 businesses throughout Southern California.
Climate - Climate on the San Bernardino varies greatly with elevation. Temperatures can be 70 degrees F in Los Angeles while only 40 degrees F at Big Bear Lake. It can snow almost any month of the year in the highest elevations. Heavy snow is possible in the high elevations during the winter months. Most of the precipitation comes between November and April so summers tend to be dry. Summer temperatures are normally warm to hot at the low elevations and more moderate at the higher elevations. Nighttime temperatures can be cool in the mountains, even during the summer months. Weather can change quickly, especially in the high elevations. Check weather forecasts and avoid storms.
The Arrowhead Ranger District is located in the San Bernardino Mountains approximately 15 miles north of San Bernardino. It is located in Skyforest on Highway 18, a quarter-mile east of the Lake Arrowhead turnoff (Highway 173).
From the 215 Freeway north, take Business 30 east to Waterman Avenue exit. Travel north on Waterman which becomes Hwy. 18 after passing the 40th Street intersection.