Cougar Crest, the forested ridge between Big Bear Lake and Holcomb Valley, is a treat for hikers. From the ridge, as well as from the ridge's two prominent peaks--Bertha and Delamar--you get great views of the lake, towering Mt. San Gorgonio and tranquil Holcomb Valley.
Holcomb Valley wasn't always so tranquil. In 1860, Billy Holcomb was out bear hunting and wandered over the ridge of hills that separates Bear Valley from the smaller, parallel valley to the north. He found gold. Prospectors swarmed into the valley from all over the West.
This day hike climbs the forested slopes above Big Bear Lake to a junction with the Pacific Crest Trail. From the trail, you can ascend to Bertha Peak or to more distant Delamar Mountain for grand views of the middle of the San Bernardino Mountains.
Directions to trailhead: From California 18 in the town of Big Bear Lake, turn north on Stanfield Cut Off, crossing to the north shore of the lake and a junction with California 38. Turn left, drive a mile to the Big Bear San Bernardino National Forest Ranger Station, then a short distance beyond to the signed Cougar Crest trailhead and parking area off the north side of the highway. If you're approaching from the east on California 38, the trailhead is a bit more than 2 miles beyond the hamlet of Fawnskin.