San Bernardino is a beautiful Californian city with pleasant weather year-round. The contrast of both mountains and palm trees makes for a striking view. For outdoor recreation enthusiasts, there is plenty of forest and desert land to explore and many hidden gems left to discover.
Nearby San Bernardino National Forest boasts over 800,000 acres of property, with an endless list of hiking trails to explore. Hikers will find expansive views of Big Bear Lake and various mountain peaks on their adventures. It's always recommended to bring sunscreen and protective clothing on your outdoor excursions, especially during the hot summers.
If you're looking to get out and trek some hiking paths with your family this summer, there are many family-friendly options. You can also bring your pup along most of the time.
1. Heart Rock Trail
Credit: Damon Poliakon / AllTrails
Heart Rock Trail is a popular route and for good reason. It's a great option for the whole family. There are some challenging segments but the trail is still short enough to keep young kids interested.
Dogs are welcome, just so long as they're kept on a leash. The trail surface is mainly paved or dirt and there is a great deal of shade to keep hikers from being exposed to the harsh sun.
Due to some steeper sections, sturdy hiking shoes are recommended. The pathway follows a creek and leads hikers past small waterfalls before reaching the main attraction, a 15-foot waterfall near Heart Rock.
An Adventure Pass is required for entry. However, it allows you access to many of the trails in the surrounding area as well.
Distance: 1.2 Miles
Total Elevation Gain: 272 Feet
2. Bonita Falls Trail
Bonita Falls Trail is an out-and-back route that takes most hikers under an hour to complete. If you're planning a visit, try the months of March through October for the best weather.
You can pick up a daily parking pass at the ranger station for $5. If you have an America the Beautiful pass, that will work in place of the parking pass.
There isn't a lot of shade along this path, so wear a wide-brimmed hat and plenty of sunscreen to avoid too much exposure. If you're planning for a swim at the falls, water shoes are helpful for the slippery rocks.
The water stays cool throughout the year, making for a refreshing dip after a moderate hike. If you bring your pup along, make sure you keep them leashed.
Distance: 1.5 Miles
Total Elevation Gain: 334 Feet
3. West Condominium Road Loop
Credit: Lilly Tovar / AllTrails
This loop trail is popular with hikers, mountain bikers, and trail runners. You'll likely run into a handful of other outdoor enthusiasts along the route.
Several steep uphill sections make for a solid workout. If you arrive later in the day, you may be lucky enough to catch a beautiful view of the sunset.
Though this trail comes in at under three miles, you can take any one of the side trails to make your hike longer. There isn't much in the way of shade, so keep that in mind when you're packing for your hike.
This is a great trail for beginners who are looking to challenge themselves. The path is short enough that they shouldn't get too exhausted by the end of it.
Distance: 2.6 Miles
Total Elevation Gain: 728 Feet
Related Read: 10 Best Hiking Trails in Lake Arrowhead
4. Exploration Trail
Credit: Jonathan Cook-Fisher / Flickr
Exploration Trail is an out-and-back route that is popular with hikers, horseback riders, and mountain bikers. You're likely to run into other like-minded outdoor enthusiasts during your hike.
The best time to visit is between April and October, as the views should be clear and the weather should be pleasant. Dogs are welcome but should always stay on a leash.
During the summer, bugs can become a nuisance so bug spray is recommended. There are lots of forks along the path, so bring a map to ensure you don't get lost.
Distance: 8.7 Miles
Total Elevation Gain: 1,492 Feet
5. Black Mountain Trail
Credit: _JFR_ / Flickr
This strenuous out-and-back route in the San Bernardino National Forest is a challenge for even the most experienced hikers. If you're planning a trip, try to visit between May and December.
The trail is dog-friendly and even has areas where they can be off-leash. The route can get fairly steep at times, so ensure that your pup is up for the task.
There is a decent amount of shade throughout the hike, which can be a nice reprieve from the hot California sun. This is a great path to practice backpacking on, as it builds your endurance over time.
Distance: 8.7 Miles
Total Elevation Gain: 2,775 Feet
6. Will Abell Memorial Trail
Credit: Andrew Snyder / AllTrails
This memorial trail makes for a beautiful forest walk with lots of shade. This is a great spot to hike during the summer months when the sun is beating down.
Dogs are welcome but per the rules of the national forest, should be kept on a leash. There is a gradual elevation gain, so it's relatively easy for young kids.
Hiking amongst the stunning pine trees and traversing switchbacks and winding paths allows for a great cardio workout. You likely won't run into too many other people along the route, especially on a weekday.
You'll be rewarded with views of Lake Arrowhead and you can take a break and enjoy a picnic before making your way back to your vehicle.
Distance: 1.9 Miles
Total Elevation Gain: 419 Feet
Related Read: 15 Best Joshua Tree Hiking Trails
7. Mormon Rocks Interpretive Trail
Credit: Flip Cassidy / Flickr
This unique trail brings hikers up close to sandstone formations. Though many of the interpretive signs have been burned due to wildfires, you can print them off online and meander through the trail while reading them.
Parking is available in the lot next to the ranger station. If you're looking for a quick and easy hike, this is a great option for young kids and dogs alike.
There is some scrambling available and the kids will especially enjoy climbing on the rocks to get a better view from an elevated perch. Be careful of snakes, especially on hot days.
This isn't a trail for hikers looking to add serious mileage but there are several branching trails to explore if you want to continue the outdoor adventure.
Distance: 1.0 Miles
Total Elevation Gain: 134 Feet
8. Lake Fulmor
Credit: mbm951 / Flickr
This is a lovely short hike that can get younger kids and older adults into hiking. There is very little elevation gain but the views are still enjoyable. Bring your fishing pole if you want to toss a line in after your leisurely hike.
Adventure Passes are required to park, so place yours inside of your vehicle. You can pack picnicking supplies for after your walk, making this the perfect afternoon activity.
The route is relatively quiet during the mornings, so head out early if you want the trail to yourself.
Distance: 0.5 Miles
Total Elevation Gain: 42 Feet
9. Little Green Valley Trail
Credit: Ryan Vollkommer / AllTrails
This loop trail is mainly trafficked by pedestrians, such as hikers and those looking for a walk with plenty of views. Be aware that dogs are allowed to be off-leash in some areas, so if your dog is reactive to this you may want to consider a different hike.
The best time to visit is between March and October. Several switchbacks lead to an open meadow, which has blossoming wildflowers during the spring season. This area makes for a prime photo spot.
Keep in mind that the creek may be dry during the summer, especially if there's an ongoing drought. Trail markers are adequate, so you won't get lost on your hike.
Distance: 2.4 Miles
Total Elevation Gain: 593 Feet
Related Read: Best Time to Visit Joshua Tree
10. Jenks Lake Trail
Credit: Amin Eshaker / Flickr
Jenks Lake Trail has a steady incline up to the lake, which makes it manageable for beginner hikers. The path is well maintained and it's easy to stay on the path without becoming lost.
At the Barton Visitor Center, hikers will find clean bathrooms and several picnic tables for a quick lunch. The area is heavily trafficked on the weekends, so arrive early or on a weekday if you want a quieter hike.
Dogs must be leashed but they're free to come along for the excursion. During the summer months, the lake dries up a bit — especially if there's a drought going on. However, there is still plenty to see and enjoy along the trail.
Distance: 3.1 Miles
Total Elevation Gain: 488 Feet
11. Arrowhead Pinnacles Trail
Credit: JewelandtheSun / Flickr
This out-and-back hiking trail is often used recreationally by hikers and horseback riders. There are some boulders and rocky scrambles on the trail, so be prepared with sturdy hiking shoes with good tread.
Dogs are welcome to join and there are some off-leash areas for them to play freely. In the warm weather, you may notice snakes out basking in the sun. Keep an eye out so that your pup avoids them.
Several sections get technical and you may find that the trail gets increasingly more difficult at the end. Wear long pants to prevent any scratches against the boulders, as well as to avoid too much sun exposure.
Distance: 4.6 Miles
Total Elevation Gain: 1,099 Feet
Related Read: 21 Unique Camping Destinations! Near Me! | U.S.A
12. Deep Creek Hot Springs to Bradford Ridge Path
Credit: _JFR_ / Flickr
This unique hiking trail leads down to natural hot springs, where visitors are allowed to take a dip and relax. There is a $10 per person fee to enter from Bowen Ranch Road.
No camping is permitted in this area, as it's only for day use. Keep in mind that this is a high desert environment so you'll want to bring plenty of water and extra sunscreen. You can refill your water containers at the natural drinking fountain located by the springs.
You'll want to wear hiking shoes as the climb back to the parking lot gets rather steep. Dogs are welcome to come along with their owners but there is a mandatory leash policy.
Distance: 3.6 Miles
Total Elevation Gain: 921 Feet
13. Champion Lodgepole Bluff Mesa Trail
Credit: Richard Goedeken / AllTrails
This loop trail is often trafficked by hikers and mountain bikers, so practicing trail etiquette is encouraged. The best times to visit are between February and November when there isn't much snow still stuck to the trail.
The first sections are relatively steep, so hiking poles may be helpful. There is parking on the street and no permit is needed.
After the first mile on the route, the trail evens out and doesn't require a great deal of effort. You'll still want to bring plenty of water, as it can get hot during the peak periods of the day.
Distance: 5.8 Miles
Total Elevation Gain: 1,092 Feet
14. Dogwood Campground Loop
Credit: Jimmy Turcios / Flickr
If you're looking for a serene forest hike, this is the loop for you. Keep in mind, there is limited parking on the road as there is no parking in the campground for day use visitors.
This trail is popular with hikers, campers, and trail runners. There is a steady elevation gain that is gradual, making it a manageable hike for beginners and young kids.
You'll trek through pine trees and cedar trees. Due to the limited markings on the trail, always stay left when you come to a fork.
There is plenty of shade due to the tree cover, so this is a great option for the days when the sun is beating down.
Distance: 3.8 Miles
Total Elevation Gain: 465 Feet
15. Big Falls Trail
Credit: Steve Cielinski / AllTrails
Big Falls is an out-and-back trail that's often trafficked during April and going through October. Due to prior search and rescue incidents, hikers are asked not to go past the waterfalls.
There are several picnic spots, as well as bathrooms. There is no camping allowed but you could easily make an afternoon of this hike if you bring refreshments.
Hikers have plenty of opportunities to set up a hammock between trees and kick their feet up to relax. If you plan to take a dip in the falls, bring dry clothes to change into.
Overall, this is a trail that requires little effort but rewards hikers with a big reward. The falls are beautiful when they're running and the trail is easy enough that younger kids can come along as well.
Distance: 0.7 Miles
Total Elevation Gain: 216 Feet
16. Crafts Peak Trail
Credit: Martin / Flickr
Crafts Peak Trail is popular with campers, hikers, and horseback riders. You're likely to see other people as you're out on your adventure, including off-leash dogs.
This trail is generally closed around the time that snow begins to stick to the ground, so keep this in mind if you're planning a winter hike. During the summer, you can discover amazing views of Lake Arrowhead and Big Bear Lake.
Due to limited parking, you'll want to arrive early. This is also a good idea due to the lack of shade, as you'll want to hike during the cooler portion of the day.
Distance: 7.2 Miles
Total Elevation Gain: 1,584 Feet
17. Morton Ridge Trail
Credit: Sheryl Parsons / AllTrails
Morton Ridge is a great out-and-back trail that's suitable for families of all sizes. Dogs are welcome on a leash, so nobody has to miss out on this adventure.
Adventure Passes are required, so grab one at a local shop if you don't already own one. There is a historic fire tower at the top of this hike, which is fun for photos but you can't go inside.
Stunning mountains speckle the northern view and hikers can also get a good look at Mill Creek. The trail is wide, so everyone has room to maneuver and you won't need to be stepping on and off the trail for bicyclists.
There is a steady elevation gain that doesn't feel overly strenuous. However, by the end of the hike, you'll definitely be feeling it in your legs. Bring a hat and plenty of water, as well as a few snacks to keep your energy levels up.
Distance: 5.3 Miles
Total Elevation Gain: 1,351 Feet
18. Hurkey Creek Trail
Credit: GOPSpics / Flickr
This out-and-back trail can be done in around an hour, making it a prime option for a quick morning trek. You'll be able to get a decent workout in and still have time to do other daytime activities.
You'll need an Adventure Pass to gain access. Display it in your vehicle while you're out on your hike. You have options to purchase day, multi-day, or even annual passes depending on your outdoor recreation frequency.
If you deviate slightly from the main trail, you'll come across a stunning waterfall. While it takes a bit of effort to get to, it's a hidden gem along the trail and you'll be able to cool off in the refreshing water.
Distance: 3.3 Miles
Total Elevation Gain: 370 Feet
19. Tunnell Road to Sawmill Trail
Credit: Carlita Cartwright / AllTrails
This out-and-back trail can be completed in 2-3 hours, even for beginners. If you want to bring the pup along, there are off-leash sections where they can run and play freely.
There is a lot of shade along the route. However, signage isn't always clear. You may want to consider downloading a map before you head out.
The views along the entire path are stunning and with a gradual elevation, you won't be huffing and puffing your way up the trail.
Distance: 5.3 Miles
Total Elevation Gain: 882 Feet