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Grays Peak Trail Hike Big Bear

Hike Grays Peak Trail (Big Bear)

In This Guide
  • Video and Turn-by-Turn Grays Peak Trail Directions
  • Getting to the Grays Peak Trail
  • Insider Tips and Recommendations
Total Distance (?)7.2 miles (11.6 km)
Hike Time3-4 Hours (Total)
Difficulty (?)Moderate
Total Ascent (?)1,300 feet (396m)
Highest Elevation7,290 feet (2222m)
Fees & PermitsParking Pass
Dogs AllowedLeashed
Alerts & Closures (?)San Bernardino National Forest
Park Phone909-382-2682
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Grays Peak Trail, one of the most popular hikes in the Big Bear Area, is not too tough, but plenty nice. You’ll hike through an old-growth forest, be treated to views of the surrounding peaks, and then reach the forested knob of Grays Peak, which has lengthwise views of Big Bear Lake, as well as the San Bernardino high line of peaks. It’s such a nice area that two bald eagles decided to raise a family here! More on that in the guide.

Where is the Grays Peak Trail?

The trailhead is easy to find. There is a dedicated rest area and parking lot for the trail in Fawnskin, right next to Big Bear Lake. Use this trailhead address:
Grays Peak Trail, Fawnskin, CA 92333

Grays Peak Trail Directions 4
There’s a very large parking lot.

You need a National Parks Pass or and Adventure Pass to park here.

Grays Peak Trail Directions 3
There are bathrooms at the parking area.

Gear For the Hike

Although this is a backcountry hike, it’s not especially technical or tough. I do the hike using regular hiking gear, but I’ve seen plenty of folks here in fitness clothes. Just know that it can be colder at the top, and in the winter, the trail can be covered with snow and ice (it’s actually a good snowshoe hike if that’s your thing). I bring 2L of water when I do the hike.

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Garmin Inreach Mini Beacon

Garmin inReach Mini
If you’re not familiar with the Garmin InReach technology, it allows you to send and receive text messages where you don’t have cell phone signals. You can also get weather reports and trigger an SOS to emergency responders. Even if you don’t have an emergency, sending a quick message telling a loved one that you’re okay or are running late is well worth the cost.

Latest Prices: Amazon | REI | Backcountry
My Review & Guide

Lone Peak 5

Altra Lone Peak 5
For most people, the Altra Lone Peak is a solid choice that will leave your feet feeling great at the end of any hike. The feel is cushy and light, and if it had a car equivalent, this would be a Cadillac or Mercedes Sedan. The grip is great and they’re reasonably durable for this type of trail runner, which I think is better in most conditions than a hiking boot, and here’s why. The downside of this shoe is that it won’t last as long as something like the Moab 2 (see alternate footwear choices at the bottom of my gear page). I’ve been using mine for many miles and my feet always feel great. Watch my video explaining why they are a great shoe here.

Women’s Latest Prices: REI | Amazon | Backcountry
Men’s Latest Prices: REI | Amazon | Backcountry

Black Diamond Ergo Poles 2

Black Diamond Trail Ergo Cork Trekking Poles
I’ve gone back and forth on trekking poles, but I think for most people they are a good investment. They help you dig in on the uphills, provide stability on loose downhills, act as a brace when crossing streams, and can probably poke away aggressive wildlife in a pinch. The Trail Ergo Cork poles are a good balance of light weight, durability, affordability, and ease of use. If you want something ultralight and a little more pricey, I’ve had great luck with the Black Diamond Z Poles too.

Trail Ergo Poles: REI | Amazon | Black Diamond
Z-Poles: MacPac | REI | Amazon | Black Diamond

Here’s my complete gear list that I personally use, have tested, and recommend, updated November 2021.

My November 2021 Top Gear Picks

No company pays me to promote or push a product, all the gear you see here is gear I use and recommend. If you click an a link and buy gear, I get a small commission that helps keep the website ad and promotion free. There is no cost to you.

Grays Peak Trail Maps

The hike is on a mixture of singletrack and (very laid back) Forest Service roads. It’s all well-marked and easy to follow.

Click Here To View

Explore Map on CalTopoView a Printable PDF Hike MapDownload the Hike GPX File

If you try to download the GPX file and your browser adds a “.txt” or “.xml” extension to it, simply rename it as a “.gpx” file.

Gaiagps

How Are You Going to Navigate This Hike?
If you are a hardcore hiker and/or hike in extreme conditions, I recommend getting a dedicated GPS like a GPSMAP 66sr or 66i, or a wrist-based GPS with maps like the Garmin Fenix 6. If you only hike in fair weather and a touchscreen is fine, or just want a solid tool, I highly recommend downloading the smartphone app, Gaia GPS. It’s a piece of cake to use and very powerful, just make sure your phone is in airplane mode so the battery doesn’t drain. You can also check for wildfires, weather, snow, and choose from dozens of map types with a premium membership (HikingGuy readers get a big discount here). Note that I also carry a paper map with me in case the phone dies or gets smashed.

Elevation Profile

Grays Peak Trail Elevation
The hike is steadily uphill, but not steep. Overall the climb is pleasant and easy for most folks with decent fitness.

3D Map

Grays Peak Trail 3d Map
From this angle you can see how the trail climbs gently from Big Bear Lake up to Grays Peak. Grays Peak, on the western end of Big Bear Lake, is unique in that it offers views lengthwise down the lake.

Hike Brief

Big Bear Eagles
In 2013, a pair of bald eagles started nesting in the area around Grays Peak. Photo San Bernardino NF Twitter

Grays Peak Trail Hike Directions

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Video Directions

Turn by Turn Directions

Grays Peak Trail Directions 1
The hike starts at the big trail board, at the end of the parking area.
Grays Peak Trail Directions 5
You’ll start climbing from the start, but it’s not too steep and very scenic.
Grays Peak Trail Directions 6
And as you climb you’ll pass through the boulders that are common on hikes around Big Bear.
Grays Peak Trail Directions 7
At the top of the first section the trail levels out and you get a breather.
Grays Peak Trail Directions 8
When the singletrack joins Forest Service Road 2N04X at around 0.8 miles, bear right and continue on the road.
Grays Peak Trail Directions 9
Just behind you when the trail joins 2N04X is a Yellow Post camping site, which is free and offers nice views over Big Bear Lake.
Grays Peak Trail Directions 10
Notice the huge old growth trees in this section.
Grays Peak Trail Directions 11
This section of the hike is along the dirt road for about 0.3 miles.
Grays Peak Trail Directions 12
And then you join the larger 2N70 road. Keep to the right.
Grays Peak Trail Directions 13
And about 200 yards after joining 2N70, look for Grays Peak Trail off to the left.
Grays Peak Trail Directions 14
The trail is marked with a sign.
Grays Peak Trail Directions 15
And now you’re back on singletrack, gently making your way up to Grays Peak.
Grays Peak Trail Directions 16
As you climb you’ll see Delmar Mountain to the north.
Grays Peak Trail Directions 17
At about 2.6 miles in, you’ll come to a scenic overlook facing north. After this, the trail turns south and you head toward Grays Peak.
Grays Peak Trail Directions 18
As you hike southwest you can see Butler Peak in the distance. The mountains beyond that are in Angeles National Forest.
Grays Peak Trail Directions 19
Look closely to spot the fire lookout tower, which is the highest tower in the northern part of San Bernardino NF.
Grays Peak Trail Directions 20
You’ll also see evidence from the 2007 Butler 2 Fire as you hike in this section.
Grays Peak Trail Directions 21
The trail winds around as it climbs to the peak, which is dead ahead here.
Grays Peak Trail Directions 22
When you crest the ridge, the trail swings left.
Grays Peak Trail Directions 29
And you’ll get views of all the 10,000 foot+ peaks in the forest, including San Gorgonio.
Grays Peak Trail Directions 23
When you get to the split, there’s a viewpoint ahead, and then the trail to the peak is a sharp left.
Grays Peak Trail Directions 24
The viewpoint area has an old witness post.
Grays Peak Trail Directions 25
And great views down Big Bear Lake.
Grays Peak Trail Directions 26
The last little climb to the summit is steep.
Grays Peak Trail Directions 27
And has some nice boulders to climb up on to enjoy the views from.
Grays Peak Trail Directions 28
And that’s it! From here, just go back the way you came up to finish the hike.

This guide last updated on November 1, 2021. Did something change on this hike? If so, please contact me and let me know. I'll update the guide.

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