The Family and I were headed to Big Bear Lake, California for the weekend to spend some time in our family cabin and I just knew I wanted to get a hike in while we were there! I researched some hiking trails in the area and decided Bertha Peak was going to be the winning destination! I read reviews of this particular hike and kept hearing over and over about the amazing views from the top!
My family and I ( 3 kids ages 10-16 and my husband) grabbed some water, filled my flash pack with extra water and some hiking snacks, laced up our hiking boots and were out the door around 10 am.
We parked our car at the Big Bear Discovery Center and made our way by a .5 mile walking route to the Cougar Crest trail head. The hike itself it around 7-7.5 miles in and back with a 1466 foot elevation gain. The skill level is Moderate, as you should have some sort of regular exercise before embarking up the side of a mountain.
Bertha Peak sitting at 8200 in elevation is a beautifully forested ridge separating Big Bear Lake from Holcomb Valley to the north. The Cougar Crest Trail takes off from the north shore of Big Bear Lake where there is a parking lot right at the trail head, my family added an additional mile by parking at the discovery center. The cool thing about the cougar crest trail is it meets up at the low point on the ridge with the Pacific Crest Trail. This family-friendly hike through the forest, with occasional views down to the lake has plenty of rest stops along the way. The trail is riddled with benches at all the most scenic spots of the trail. Once you get to the top you will find breath taking views of the lake and valley below, something you will not find hiking Bertha Peak is solitude! This trail is highly used and very popular on the weekends.
In conclusion I would give Bertha Peak and the Cougar Crest Trail a solid four stars! The trail was well maintained, very clean, and had many great spots to stop and absorb the beauty. The trail swept through the forest at a great pace of elevation gain and never felt exhausting. The summit felt very rewarding and returning to the car my body and mind felt accomplished. The only real reason this trail didn't get the full five stars is the lack of solitude, but all that is good must be shared so I'm O.K. with that :)
Now for my Bertha Peak Trip Tips!
~Get to the trail head in the morning before it gets too hot and allow yourself 4-6 hours to enjoy your trek and take in the beauty.
~Use the restroom before you head up, there are no restrooms on the trail.
~wear sunscreen! We forgot to wear sunscreen and didn't feel ourselves getting burned through the shady trees.
~ hydrate, hydrate, hydrate! Pre-hydrate a couple hours or even the day before to get your body prepared! Bring plenty of water! The air is thin and dry and even if you are not feeling hot or thirsty being in the shade your body can dehydrate easily! My kids drank all their water and I was happy I brought extra in my pack! I read somewhere a good rule of thumb is approximately 2 cups of fluid per hour of hiking.
~bring a snack. You will be burning calories and a good snack will help replenish electrolytes as well as boost your energy while hiking. some good snacks are protein bars, tuna snack kits, beef jerky, or a good trail mix.
~I always carry with me a small first aid kit, because well you never know.
~wear comfortable socks and hiking shoes with good traction.
~Have fun and please Leave No Trace!