SoCAL JEEPING FUN and ADVENTURES
Looking for a fun place to chill out in SoCal? The San Bernardino Forest has a little bit for everyone. The forest itself is 800,00 acres and offers all kinds of sports and recreation activities year round. This is a popular spot in Southern California for both locals and tourists.
If you’re looking to get in some scenic Jeeping, head to Santa Rosa Mountain and explore. Before you go, make sure you have a way out as you likely won’t have cell coverage in various places throughout the forest. I didn’t realize what a hot spot this place was, but I lost count of how many Jeeps I saw on the trails when I was exploring! If you keep heading west, you will end up at the infamous Big Bear Lake, where you can do some seriously fun Jeeping and enjoy lake life.
In the picture below, you can see one of the coolest things I found along the way… these giant pinecones! They were about a foot long and have big, bear-like clawed hooks on the outside. Coulter pinecones were given the nickname “widow makers” because when they fall they can actually kill you. They are the largest and heaviest pinecones in the world. I heard a few of these fall and it sounds like a ton of bricks hitting the ground! You need to keep your head up around those trees….
Looking to do some hiking? Whether you want to do a day hike or a multi-day hike, you don’t have to go far to find what you’re looking for. At a higher elevation, the San Bernardino Forest is a prime hiking area, especially in the heat of summer. It was nice being in so many trees too. Not only was there shade, but the air smelled so fresh!!! It was much needed break from the L.A. smog.
Some of the more intense hikes available include parts of the Pacific Crest Trail. For those of you unfamiliar with the PCT, this trail stretches over 2,600 miles down the west coast and takes roughly 10-20 days to hike. Gnarly right? Another popular hiking destination in the San Bernardino Forest is the San Jacinto Peak, which towers over the forest at over 10,000 feet. The Peak trail is a 10.5 mile highly trafficked out and back trail, best enjoyed in from the spring-fall.
As you explore through the San Bernardino Forest, you may eventually come across Idyllwild. This is a main hub for backpackers, campers, locals and tourists. You can find everything you need from supplies, restaurants, auto stores, lodging and more. It’s a super artsy area and the vibes are awesome. It’s a great spot to head up into higher elevation to the cooler mountain air and enjoy the day as well. It’s MUCH more comfortable up here than in the hot desert below.
If you visit in the summertime, there are a few lakes to cool off at throughout the forest. You can spend a day or weekend jetskiing around the lake or fishing. Lake Arrowhead and Lake Hemet are both a great spot to kick back and relax. But if you head further west, you hit the iconic Big Bear Lake where you can do a ton of awesome Jeeping and enjoy lake life.
The forest is a great spot to visit any time of year. Trust me, you won’t be disappointed during any season. If you visit the San Bernardino Forest later in the year, I hear Fall is really pretty with all the leaves changing. In the wintertime, you can enjoy wintersports like snowmobiling, skiing, snowboarding and even snowshoeing.
Come spring, you’ll start to see breathtaking wildflowers. I just missed the Super Bloom here, but there were still lots of pretty flowers all along the road in the late spring and early summer. I also stumbled upon a purple cactus!!!
I had so much fun exploring this area and it has so much to offer year round. If you want a taste of nature and escape the SoCal cities, this is a great place to hike, Jeep, camp, and relax. You can’t really go wrong with Jeeps and lakes!