Forestwide Camping Prohibited

All yellow post site camping areas surrounding Bluff Lake Reserve is closed until further notice. For additional details about forest closures, please visit the San Bernardino National Forest website.


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 reserve's forests are rare in the San Bernardino Mountains as it is an old-growth forest. Old-growth forests are complex ecosystems that have reached maturity without having their growing cycles disturbed. Within these forests, you will find a healthy mix of young and old trees (depending on the forest, some trees can be 500+ years old), and dead trees that support a high level of biodiversity. Dr. Joan Maloof, scientist and author, founded the Old-Growth Forest Network to identify and protect at least one forest in each of the 3,007 counties in the United States. The Network also encourages the public to explore these magnificent forests by sharing and promoting their locations. On May 29, 2018, Dr. Maloof joined Wildlands employees and friends at Bluff Lake Reserve to celebrate its dedication into the Old-Growth Forest Network. Read more on the Bluff Lake page on the network's website.


Open daily 9:00 am - 6:00 pm
May 1 - November 1




  • Hiking
  • Wildlife Viewing


  • Parking
  • Picnic Tables

Wildlife Warnings

  • Black Bears
  • Mountain Lions
  • Rattlesnakes


To enhance the quality of everyone's visit, please observe this summary of rules for your safety and protection of the reserve.

  • Smoking prohibited
  • Drones prohibited
  • Dogs must be on a leash
  • No swimming or other water related activities
  • No camping
  • A person may not pick, cut, mutilate, or remove plants or other natural resources


Bluff Lake is located near Big Bear Lake, California, off Big Bear Blvd. west of town on 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
  • 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.

Jason Laird
Preserve Manager

San Bernardino Mountains Regional Office
39611 Oak Glen Road
Building 10
Oak Glen, CA 92399
(909) 790-3698


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