Hike Grays Peak Trail (Big Bear)
|In This Guide|
|Total Distance (?)||7.2 miles (11.6 km)|
|Hike Time||3-4 Hours (Total)|
|Total Ascent (?)||1,300 feet (396m)|
|Highest Elevation||7,290 feet (2222m)|
|Fees & Permits||Parking Pass|
|Alerts & Closures (?)||San Bernardino National Forest|
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
You need a National Parks Pass or and Adventure Pass to park here.
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.
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
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
- Historically bald eagles would winter in Big Bear, where they could hunt for food in the lake, unlike those further north which freezes over.
- In 2013 the first pair of eagles in recent memory nested here, and eagles have come back regularly to nest every year. Since bald eagles have been known to abandon nests disturbed by humans, the Forest Service usually closes the area around Grays Peak in the winter and spring during nesting season. It’s important to visit the park website before you go and check the trail status. You can tune into the solar-powered “nest cam” to view the nest here.
- Grays Peak is named after an old (and long-closed) camping resort called “Gray’s Landing and Camp,” opened in 1918. When the camp first opened, there wasn’t even a road here. The camp became a legendary place for trout fishing, with cowboys Roy Rodgers and Dale Evans buying it in 1955. When Roy Rodgers was asked if he didn’t like anything about the deal, it was that “he couldn’t spend all his time here.”
- The first half of the hike passes through old(er) growth forest with big oaks, pines and cedars. And then on the second half of the hike, you’ll be able to see the effects of the 2007 Butler 2 Fire, which didn’t burn everything, but did do some damage.
Grays Peak Trail Hike Directions
It’s easy to say thank you for these free hiking guides!
I depend on your support to keep this website going and free of annoying ads, promoted posts, and sponsorships. Every contribution, big or small, is my lifeline to keep this website going. Thank you!
Turn by Turn Directions
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.
Have an idea on how to make these guides better? Leave me your thoughts here..