3N69 – Gold Mountain

Big Bear City, California (San Bernardino County)

Last Updated: 06/10/2019
4.9 /5 ( 13 reviews )
Information
Nearby Trails
Status: Open
Typically Open: Year Round
Difficulty: 5-6
(DIFFICULT )
Length: 4.5 miles
Highest Elevation: 8300 feet
Duration: About 2 hours
Shape of Trail: Straight Through
Best Direction to Travel: North
Nearest Town: Big Bear City
Nearest Town w/ Services: Big Bear City
Official Road Name: 3N69
Management Agency: San Bernardino Forest Service
District: Mountain Top District
Distance:
Showing 0 trails within 2 miles

Highlights

Highlight: 3N69 – Gold Mountain

3N69 - Gold Mountain is one of the harder offroad / 4x4 trails on the Big Bear Mountain Range. The trail starts off by immediately winding its way up to just over 8,000 feet. Due to its technical challenges of this rock crawling trail and unique location overlooking the resort city of Big Bear Lake, this trail is a popular destination for many off-roaders. Besides the simplicity of the location, Gold Mountain offers drivers two different technical ledge/waterfalls, the largest rock garden on the mountain, what could be the best spot for group photos, and the best views of the resort town. But be ready, the trail can easily deceive most drivers resulting in body damage to your rocker panels or something worse.

Video

Weather

7 day forecast for 3N69 – Gold Mountain

Route Information

Advanced Rating System

Recommended Vehicle:
Lightly Modified 4X4 (Small Lift and Larger Tires)
Concerns:
Summary:
There are several obstacles that give this trail a rating. As of 2019, the trail has gotten a little more torn up, which in result increased the rating. The first waterfall has become slightly easier (3-5 feet tall), while the second fall is now being problematic with ledges starting at 3 feet tall and several other obstacles on it. But the harder obstacles are not showing up further up the trail as in hard corner where ground clearance will be a deciding factor. Thus vehicles with a small lift will likely be required for this trail.

Technical Rating: 5-6
(DIFFICULT )

Rocky or undulated road surface. Potential rocks less than 36" tall and/or vertical ledges less than 36" tall and/or near vertical ledges or waterfalls less than 84" inches. Tire placement becomes more difficult. Can be steep and off-camber.

Read more about our rating system

Description

Make sure you stay on the trail, there are several new paths being created off trail which will result in this trail being closed. If you see it happening let them know they may just be the person to ruin it for everyone and to get back on the trail. Gold Mountain is a great way to make your way over to John Bull or Jacoby Canyon. The majority of the trail is easy to moderate at best, but there are a few sharp rock ledges without any bypasses which give this trail its more difficult rating. Open for the full year, snow can make this trail very exciting if not impassable without a winch. The trail twists and turns as it weaves itself up and over the mountain, which can make it difficult for full-size trucks to maneuver through it; although not recommended it has been done. About halfway though the trail you will come up to a large opening with nothing but rocks to drive on, this section is not difficult but makes for a great picture opportunity. When traveling North on 3N69, you will be connected to 3N16 – Holcomb Valley Road at the end of the trail. Go left to follow to 3N10 - John Bull or Holcomb Valley. Turn right to head towards 3N61 - Jacoby Canyon or end your trip by following 3N16 – Holcomb Valley Road back to HWY 18, just before reaching pavement you will drive past the Big Bear landfill. The rating for the trail is for the common direction which is heading north. If you choose to head south the rating would be roughly a 4 on the easy routes.

Waypoints

1. Trailhead - Baldwin Lake Side (0.00 mi)

A quick exit from highway 38 to the north, 3N69 has a small dirt Y that can easily be missed.

2. Waterfall (1.30 mi)

The iconic symbol of this trail, this 50 foot wide ledge offers a challenge to almost any driver. Be warned, the harder routes have a likely chance of rolling your vehicle over. The easy route to the left or middle has a great chance of doing damage to your rocker panel and rear tire carrier.

3. 2nd waterfall (1.40 mi)

The second set of ledges. The obstacle is continuing to get harder and harder. If wet at all, this slick rock waterfall can be a total pain if not impossible to get up.

4. Rock Garden (2.30 mi)

The old rock tailings from a mine. This area is a large rocky area that is just rocks, no dirt. While driving across be prepared for sounds worse then fingernails on a chalkboard. But this area also makes for amazing photos, make sure you stop with your group to get a great group shot.

5. Hard corner (2.80 mi)

On the trail, one of the switch backs has been torn up pretty bad making it difficult for more stock vehicles. The rocks are over 18 inches tall with rather large holes around them. A good line will be required to get a vehicle without lockers past this point.

6. Pacific Crest Trail (3.90 mi)

Gold Mountain crosses the Pacific Crest Trail at this point.

7. 3N16 End (4.50 mi)

Where the trail meets 3N16 – Holcomb Valley Road from the south. To get to this area from 3N16 – Holcomb Valley Road please visit the trail 3N16 – Holcomb Valley Road and click here.

Directions to Trailhead

Trailhead Coordinates: 34.274311, -116.819408

Starting Point: Big Bear Lake, CA

From the north side of Big Bear Lake, head east on HWY18. About 2 miles out of town, look for mile marker 56.2. Turn north onto the 3N69 and continue up hill to the trailhead.

Camping

Dispersed

Even though you are allowed to dispersed camp along 3N69, due to the rocky nature of the trail there aren't many good spots to camp that are worth noting. It is recommended to drop down onto 3N16 and head into the forest for better dispersed camping and also the public campground such as Holcomb Valley Campground. The San Bernardino National Forest is a nearby oasis for millions of Southern Californians who want to escape for the weekend and go camping. The higher elevations of the forest mean that the summertime temperatures are cooler than the valleys below. And as an added bonus most campgrounds have shaded sites and some are near streams or lakes. Many campgrounds are adjacent to beautiful natural areas and you can find solitude on quiet wilderness trails. Some campgrounds are reserved campsites, and on weekends or holidays, we definitely recommend making a reservation. To do this, visitors can go online to www.recreation.gov or call toll-free 1-877-444-6777. Most campgrounds can accommodate both tent campers and RV's. All campgrounds have picnic tables and restroom facilities, and some even have showers and other amenities. Most campsites accommodate up to 6 people and 2 tents. There may be an additional cost for more than one vehicle. The Forest Service describes camping as either "developed" (usually accessible by road and including facilities like picnic tables, restrooms and fire-rings) or "undeveloped/dispersed" (remote areas accessible only by dirt roads or trails, no facilities). During winter months some locations may be inaccessible due to snow or closed, check with the local Ranger Station for updated conditions. More info can be found at: San Bernardino National Forest Camping

Camping: 3N69 – Gold Mountain

Trail Reviews (22)

Author:
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Rating:
This was my first time on a trail with this difficulty, luckily I met up with a group just getting ready to go and they let me follow along. Going with a stock rig made thing more challenging especially on the waterfalls, I would recommend a bit more clearance before attempting, I plan to go again after I do some upgrades. All in all great trail, beautiful views I had a blast

Author:
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Rating:
Great trail, but if you're going on the weekend get there EARLY or get there LATE. It gets insanely crowded. The majority of the trail is pretty moderate, but the two waterfalls are serious business. Unfortunately our lead routed us around the tailings pile, so I can't comment on that. You really should have, at minimum, a small lift and at least one locker for this trail. Otherwise you'll be in for a long day.

Author:
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Rating:
Had a ball with the group I was with! My favorite part is the Rock Garden....just sounds so cool and you feel like you are in another universe... (Okay, well at least I do!) Waterfall 1 was more difficult that I remembered (went up stock my first time) and Waterfall 2 was neat! Love that part! Lots of neat places to look at...didnt seem like there were too many places to stop and not be in someones way. It was VERY crowded the day we went, but it was also later in the morning!

Author:
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Rating:
Had a blast today on this trail. Had more issues just past the rock garden then on the water falls.. made it regardless.

Author: Official Crew
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Rating:
Ran the trail with the new JLU, overall we made it with only a little dragging. But the holes have gotten a little deeper which I increased the rating to a 5, meaning a small lift will be required for some ground clearance.

Author:
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Rating:
Based strictly on the criteria in the ratings descriptions, I think the trail rating should be closer to 6-8 (plenty of spots with minimum 18” ledges, Do NOT attempt stock. Existing rating would be accurate without the waterfalls). Center line on first waterfall iscurrently the easiest and was no prob with 25psi, but going back down with my 35’s at 12psi caused a lot of dragging. The 2nd waterfall (uphill) gives no easier way around and is pretty dug out at the bottom. After trying a couple of times, the shadows were getting long, so we turned around. Definately have to give ourselves more time next try. :-))

Author:
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Rating:
Had a great time doing this for the first time. 2018 Ram Power Wagon with White Knuckle rock sliders. Power wagon climbed everything without breaking a sweat. I did come down on the sliders multiple times, they worked like a champ. Great trail, beautiful scenery. Fun and challenging. Best with buddies.

Author:
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Rating:
This is a great trail for newbies who have, at minimum, a 2" lift and rear lockers, and are accompanied by someone experienced on the trail. Newbs will learn about rock crawling and have a lot of fun at the same time. The first obstacle, along the easiest line, has a couple 24-36" shelves, and the second obstacle has lower shelves but is steeper and rockier.

Author: Official Crew
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Rating:
Ran the trail with a larger group... A lot of fun. Surprisingly the trail was torn up a lot from just two weeks before that. #FalkenTires

Author: Official Crew
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Rating:
I've never done this trail before and was really excited to cross it off my bucket list. Some of my friends said that it was chewed up, but they hadn't done it in a few years. I sustained a little bit of damage to my left rear quarter panel but other than that, I had no issues. There was a Jeep driver though that broke his rear axle on the 2nd obstacle.

Author: Official Crew
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Rating:
Dropping the rating a little. The main waterfall is easier now. The middle line is the easiest, while the left is the intermediate line and the right line isn't much harder.

Author:
Status: Open
Offroaded on:

Author:
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Conditions were amazing, trail was mostly dry with very little traffic

Author:
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Rating:
Gold Mountain is definitely one of my favorite trails. I have done this trail 4 times now. One thing that is unique about Gold Mountain is how much it can change in a short period of time. One trip, the far left line on the first waterfall is the "easy" line, the next trip it might be the hardest, depending on how dug out it is. One thing I like about Gold Mountain is that even though there are really only two main obstacles, plus the rock garden (a must), the majority of the trail will still keep you on your toes, having to pay attention...compared to other trails that might be rated more difficult but really only have 2 spots that are hard with the rest of the trail being easy. This is a great trail when newbies are ready for the "next step up" as it is challenging, but not overly difficult. I completely agree with the current rating of 4-6 out of 10.

Author:
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
We took a trip up to the 1st obstacle or #2 Waterfall to check it out. After reading the report here in T.O. and the assessed difficulty rating of 5-7, I had no intention of running the trail but as a new wheeler I wanted to calibrate myself to the rating system. the trail is marked at the bottom as Black Diamond and arriving in a stock Sahara at the Waterfall my first impressions was "No Way". My riding partner Dennis Clark, an experienced rider and a T.O. official crew member with a built JKU inspected closely on foot the potential paths through the Waterfall. "Not ever" was the verdict for the stock jeep. My feelings were that the 1.25 mile road to the first obstacle was challenging enough as I did scrap and dent the skid platting on the way there. So with that my calibration suggests at my level of experience I would not want to tackle a trail more then about 4 difficulty.

Author: Official Crew
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
I was house sitting my son's cabin in Big Bear this weekend and invited Robin and his wife up to check out the #1 obstacle on Gold Mountain. Robin is a new wheeler with a new Sahara. My thought was to park him and maybe continue up to the summit before turning around. I ran this trail in 2015 so I was amazed at how tough the trail itself has become in just two years. Arriving at the obstacle and giving it a careful walkover I decided to pass on traveling further without an experienced spotter to guide me through. This is tough!

Author: Official Crew
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Rating:
Top 5 Hard Trails in Big Bear

Author: Official Crew
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Another great trip up Gold Mnt. Can't wait till the next time.

Author: Official Crew
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Full trail video running it backwards

Author: Official Crew
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
A little snow on the side of the trail, but mostly dry. We ran the trail, just before John Bull, with my JK and my brothers International Scout.

Author: Official Crew
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Ran Gold Mountain Backwards. Made for a good day. Trial wasn't to bad. A little torn up from the rains. The slick rock waterfall was very slippery. Besides that, we ran the trail in 45 minutes, so it was pretty navigable.

Author:
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
We had a great day out on the trail yesterday, weather was cold as expected and the trail conditions are currently wet, muddy, and about 1-2" of snow in some areas. Most of the melting snow on the trail itself had turned into ice, making going down hill quite interesting to say the least. The hard obstacles had no snow but the rocks were wet and muddy causing a lot of tire spin! Still passable IMO by a relatively stock 4WD vehicle. We had a Wrangler Unlimited with us that only had a 2" lift and slightly bigger than stock tires, by choosing the right lines he was able to get across the entire trail never needing to be pulled, not even stacking rocks. The bigger built rigs still had fun by choosing more difficult lines up the same obstacles. Visibility was amazing due to recent high winds that cleared out the smog in the distance and we were able to get some great views on our way up the switch backs.

Questions & Answers (5)

Q: Question for waypoints 2 & 3. How many lines are there (left to right)? Which one is the easiest or hardest? Can a stock rubicon & sahara make it on the easy line?
–White JK (05/05/2019)
A: Quick answer, yes those vehicles can do it. I was planning on running them on the 11th in a stock 4door rubicon. The lower fall is usually easier on the left or middle line. While the upper fall depends on wheel base. Usually the right is the easier line but that can change.
–Josh Noesser (05/06/2019)
Q: driving a ram mega cab shortbed with about a 3 inch lift on 35" tires. would I have clearance/turning radius issues on this trail?
–Jonathan (04/26/2019)
A: Could you make it? Yes. Will you have trouble, yes again. That is a pretty long vehicle for some of the switch backs.
–Josh Noesser (04/26/2019)
Q: Is this trail open?
–Derrick (04/24/2019)
A: Yep, ran it today.
–RC (04/25/2019)
A: Last I heard
–Josh Noesser (04/24/2019)
Q: Is there a trick to downloading the GPX file? It wont download?
–Evan Cook (09/07/2018)
A: Make sure you are completely up to date, apple has a lot of issues I'd your not 100% updated
–Josh Noesser (09/24/2018)
A: I am having the same problem. After the site update I can't get the GPX files to download. I'm using an iMac.
–Rob (09/24/2018)
A: First, make sure your popup blocker is turned off for the site. Then click the blue box that says download GPX file. This should prompt the save feature for your browser. (I just tested and it worked).
–Josh Noesser (09/07/2018)
Q: Is this trail open or closed?
–Todd (07/03/2017)
A: The trail was reopened just days after the fire and is still open.
–Josh Noesser (08/17/2017)

Writer Information

Josh Noesser

Mapping Crew - California

Joshua Noesser grew up in Southern California but has lived in different parts of the country during his young adult life. Josh was first turned to four wheeling when he road with one of his friends dad up Surprise Canyon in the Panamint Valley at age14. After nearly 3 different roll overs later and a half dozen intense waterfalls, Josh was hooked. At 16 he purchased his first Jeep a CJ 7 and by 17 was putting his first locker in it. Currently, Josh is the owner and CEO of Nybble, an IT Solutions Company based in Orange County, California. Nybble isn't your normal IT company where everyone stays in and plays video games. Nybble's average company trip is out on the trails since a good amount of his staff enjoy wheeling too. As Josh likes to say, he offers the only IT Company with the ability to provide services in extreme locations. "If you want a server at the top of The Hammers, we will take care of that for you." Today you can find Josh out on the trail behind the wheel in one of his three different off-road vehicles. See the vehicles below for more information. If you ever run into Josh, please say high, he is a very friendly person and is always happy to have a new person join the group.
For individual use only, not to be shared.