Located at 7,600 feet, Bluff Lake Reserve has towering pines, a 20-acre lake and meadow, and majestic outcrops of quartz monzonite. The reserve includes Southern California’s finest intact mountain marsh and meadow complex that contains the federally threatened Bear Valley bluegrass (Poa atropurpurea), the federally endangered Big Bear checkerbloom (Sidalcea pedata) and California dandelion (Taraxacum californicum). Botanically the meadow is remarkable with 16 species of sedges (Carex), eight species of wire grass (Juncus) and 14 species of native grass. Mature forests of lodgepole pine, Jeffrey pine, and white fir surround the meadow. You may recognize the scenery as the location of the original Disney movie "Parent Trap," and "Dr. Dolittle 2."


After acquiring this preserve in 2000, TWC drained the lake to kill non-native catfish in order to restore the native aquatic systems that had been decimated by artificially stocked lakes in Southern California. In summer the lake now takes on a richer shade of blue from tens of thousands of damsel flies hovering on the water. Western toads, their pollywogs uneaten by fish, are sometimes seen in masses four inches deep numbering in the thousands. TWC also restored the meadow, removing buildings and horse fencing. Children were taught the difference between the native and non-native dandelion and helped to remove the non-native invasive that was hybridizing with the native federally endangered dandelion.


The Bluff Lake Reserve is open to visitors seven days a week from 9 am to 6 pm, starting May 1 through November 1.  The property is snowed in through winter and spring. Use is restricted to; hiking designated trails, picnicking, photography, bird-watching, quiet reflection, and many other passive activities are acceptable and dogs on leashes are welcome.


The Bluff Lake Reserve is an ecological reserve. It is home to unique plant communities and wildlife. Access to the reserve will exist only as long as visitor use is acceptable. Please refer to this website or call (909) 790-3698 with questions or to find out about future opportunities and/or property closures.


Access to Bluff Lake is off Big Bear Blvd. west of town on either Tulip Lane or Mill Creek Road.

  • At Oak Knoll Lodge, turn south on Forest Service Road 2N10. After about a mile the pavement ends and becomes an improved dirt road (passenger car accessible).
  • Follow the 2N10 another 2.6 miles to the junction with 2N86 and bear left, following the sign that says "<---Bluff Lake Reserve."
  • In approximately a 1/2 mile, look for the sign on the right: "Bluff Lake Reserve 1/2 -->" and turn right on the access road and proceed a 1/2 mile to the main parking area.
  • The Champion Lodgepole Pine is accessible from from the reserve - see the posted maps or ask the ranger for a map and directions.