Cougar Crest Trail to Bertha Peak

One of Big Bear's most convenient and rewarding summit hikes.

Hiking Moderate

Distance
11 km
Ascent
412 m
Descent
412 m
Duration
2-3 hrs
Low Point
2.1 km
High Point
2.5 km
Gradient
12˚
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Cougar Crest Trail to Bertha Peak Map

Description

Bertha Peak is one of the closest mountains to Big Bear, located on the north shore of Big Bear Lake. Its summit grants terrific vantage over the water, the town, and peaks all around. Cougar Crest Trail is the most popular way to reach Bertha Peak, and conveniently starts from the road along the lakeshore. Other ways to reach Bertha Peak are either much longer hikes or shorter hikes that require a bumpy dirt road to reach. Cougar Crest is a gradual climb of moderate difficulty and distance that makes a healthy and rewarding workout in the beautiful forest around Big Bear.

You can park right at the trailhead with a California Adventure Pass, but spots are limited. Alternatively, park at the Big Bear Discovery Center and walk a half-mile paved path that links with the trailhead. The climb is fairly gradual for the first mile and steepens in the second. There is ample shade beneath abundant ponderosa pines, but much of the trail faces south, so it gets hot on warm days. Expect cobbly surface and rock stairs in some places. Views get better and better as you climb, and the trail periodically crosses clearings with excellent vantage over the lake.

Cougar Crest Trail technically ends at a junction with the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT), but you can continue to Bertha Peak by turning right on the PCT. On top awaits the widest panorama yet. You can see not only the lake but more of the San Bernardino Mountains, and beyond. On a clear day, you can see all the way to San Gorgonio in the south and the San Gabriel Mountains in the west. A signal station shares the summit, but you can walk around it for views in all directions.

Sources: https://www.fs.usda.gov/recarea/sbnf/recarea/?recid=26375 https://bigbearlakefrontcabins.com/blog/cougar-crest-trail

Difficulty

Moderate

Hiking along trails with some uneven terrain and small hills. Small rocks and roots may be present.

Medium Exposure

2 out of 4

The trail contains some obstacles such as outcroppings and rock which could cause injury.

Remoteness

2 out of 4

Away from help but easily accessed.

Best time to visit

March, April, May, June, July, August, September, October, November, December

Features

  • Wildlife
  • Picturesque
  • Summit Hike
  • Dog friendly
  • Wild flowers