Since I've gone to Big Bear every weekend for the past three weekends, I figured I'd make a single post to summarize my trips.
Each of the trips used Crab Flats to start (Green Valley off HWY 18). If you want to make a fire while camping, you're limited to existing campsites. If you decide to camp along a trail -- and there are some really beautiful spots, you need an Adventure Pass. I buy an annual pass each time since 80% of the money goes back into supporting the trail system (a tax that I enjoy paying!). For me, camping without a fire isn't the same. That means I typically establish camp early, unload the Jeep, hit some good trails, and hang out by the fire for a few hours.
2/11 - 2/12: Temperature ranged from a low of 21 to a high of 55 deg F. The highlight was Gold Mountain Trail and Dishpan (Deep Creek). It snowed a few inches over an hour or so.
Gold Mountain is technically rated "black diamond" but there are only a few spots that are truly challenging. It has a really pretty rock garden that isn't too tough, but I saw a built FJ stuck with an unseated tire on a previous trip. Anyhow, I ran this with my stock JKU Rubicon and I didn't see any lines that were impossible. This trail has changed a bit over the last few years. I think the volunteer clubs have set out to ensure it can't be done with a "regular truck". I helped an old Chevy out of some snow and convinced him to turn around before getting stuck further. The trail is in the best shape I've ever seen it.
Deep Creek is one of my favorites. It's legitimately tough. If you start at Crab Flats, you end up running it downhill -- which I think is harder than climbing it! I managed to chew up both of my stock bumpers on this run. My gas tank skid took a beating too! Fortunately I already planned to replace this stuff. My new bumpers are on, and it looks like my River Raider Off Road "full set" armor will get delivered tomorrow!
2/19 - 2/20 (Presidents Day Weekend): Temperature ranged from a low of 12 to a high of 44 deg F.
This was essentially a repeat of the previous weekend. I scoped new trails in preparation for the upcoming weekend, but re-ran Gold Mountain and Deep Creek. The trail was icy with patchy snow.
2/25: Temperature ranged from a low of mid 30s to a high of 69 deg F. This provided lots of snow melt with creek crossings and huge mud puddles along the way to Holcomb Valley!
This was my first run on my new 33" tires and increased clearance by way of my 2" Rubicon Express BB and bumpers. I discovered that 40PSI is way too much pressure for these tires (the shop filled them that way). 29-30 PSI is a much softer ride (and above the TPM minimum threshold in my Jeep).
For this trip I scoped out Big Pine campground. It's a bit more primitive than Crab Flats, but much prettier in my opinion. Continuing on 3N16 to 3N14, you'll come across 3N93 ("Holcomb Creek"). This is a tough trail, but one of the prettiest you'll find in the area. On this run I bypassed it because I was headed east to pick up a trail that would take me to Yucca Valley.
I have fond memories of a trip I took from 29 Palms to Big Bear about 12 years ago. It turns out that many of the trails that connect Big Bear to the desert side in Yucca Valley are now closed! The most popular was 1N01, "Pipe Canyon". I'm not entirely clear why this is the case, but I think the fire of 2007 is a big reason. It seems to be patrolled by horseback environmentalists with guns. Don't crawl over the boulders or bypass the fence.
So, I settled for 2N02 near Baldwin Lake instead. It's mostly a rough fire road, but has a few mildly tricky areas. This was a night run for me and the goal was to test my new Rigid Industries LEDs. One trail report said it would take about 4 hours, but I popped out near Pioneer Town a little less than 1.5 hours later. If you have not been, Pioneer Town is a fun place in the middle of nowhere! It started off in the 1940s as a working film set studio and living quarters for the actors. You can still get lunch there. It's pretty hopping at night, but filled with a strange mix of locals and tourists (you see old F150s and Prius in the lot!). If you come the paved way, it's essentially a trip to 29 Palms near HWY 62.
It's been a long time since I've been able to string this many trips together! I'm going to Death Valley late Thursday, but I'm game to go back to these trails and others. Anyone else want to meet up in March? Say the weekend of 3/9?
(forum picture hosting isn't working for me, here are some Tapatalk hosted links)