Comfortably nestled back in the forest of Big Bear, this challenging trail has been attracting visitors for decades. Argued to be the most demanding trail in the Big Bear Mountain range, this trail provides fantastic views along with some of the hardest off-roading in the area. While traveling the trail, expect everything from water crossings and extensive rock gardens to challenging hill climbs. Be warned, this trail has claimed many vehicles over the years and should not be underestimated.
Trail Difficulty and Assessment
Lightly Modified 4X4 (Small Lift and Larger Tires)
The central rock garden has rocks up to 3-feet round that are mandatory.
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The hardest part of the trail that you
cannot bypass - you have to drive it.
The hardest part of the trail that is
purely optional - you can bypass it.
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
Holcomb Creek (3N93) is arguably the most challenging rock crawling route on the mountain range. It is comprised of 5 rock gardens, several water crossings, a washed-out pass, several steep hill climbs with obstacles on them, and much more. This trail is waiting to cause havoc on your vehicle.
In the winter, it does snow on this trail. Since the trail is on the north side of the mountains, snow does stick for long periods. If you are up for the challenge, this trail goes from the easy line being ranked a high "6" rating in dry and perfect conditions to the easy line being a mandatory 10+ rating in less wet conditions.
The trail is more demanding going east to west.
Please remember no camping within 100 feet of the creek and other water sources, and do not dam up the creeks.
1. West Trailhead At 3N16 - Holcomb Valley Road (0
The west trailhead is where Holcomb Creek intersects with 3N16 – Holcomb Creek Trail. Going west to east is probably the more popular route as it makes the center rock garden easier, but both directions offer a lot of fun and different challenges.
2. West Rock Garden (0
Holcomb Creek offers a rock garden with a rocker panel destroying gatekeeper. This is the largest of the rock gardens with the largest rocks on the trail. The rock garden spans over 300 feet long, with rocks more significant than 36 inches. Be ready to use your rocker guards and lockers because it takes a bit of work to get through this.
Between Waypoints 2 and 3 is an off-camber narrow shelf corner over a 15-foot cliff. Please note that wide, long, or tall vehicles may have problems in the spot.
3. Optional Large Boulder - Follow Trail (2
A small play area in the middle of the trail, this large boulder makes for great photos. If you're driving multiple trails in one day, it's also a good lunch spot. Rumors are they want to close this area; please voice your concerns to the forest service about keeping this pullout open.
4. Hill Climb - Continue Straight (2.8
Roughly right in the middle of Holcomb Creek Trail is this 100+ foot hill climb. What makes this hill climb so worthy of mention? At the top, the trail is all dug up, with large holes, and people have lost control and rolled over. Plan your line, and you will be fine.
5. Large Middle Rock Garden (3.2
This is the second-largest rock garden on the trail and is just over 150 feet long. It does have the tallest ledges on the trail and is considered the trail's hardest location. One of these ledges is over 5 feet tall and will test your rocker panels like no other. There is a side route, but it also has roughly a 2.5 to a 3-foot ledge with uneven rocks at the bottom.
It is highly recommended that you have rock sliders and lockers for this section.
Please stay the trail in this area as driving off the trail is threatening to close it.
The second and third photos are older pictures of when the forest was still there. The rock garden hasn't changed at all, but the forest has since it now has been burned down, as you can see in the first photo. It is everyone's responsibility to make sure we don't repeat this in the remaining forest areas.
6. Land Slide - Continue Straight (3.4
In early 2020, a landslide at this location and caused the trail to change. Right after the event, the trail was impassable. Thanks to the help of a few people and buggies, the route was cleared. But note, there are uncomfortable spots and a large rock you have to drive over. This spot is getting easier over time.
7. 2N06X Cut-off - Continue Straight (3.75
Continue straight to stay on Holcomb Creek Trail, or you can cut off to the west here to go back to 3N16 – Holcomb Creek Trail. 2N06X is a hard trail that offers some fun obstacles. For more information, please visit the trail write-up at 2N06X.
8. 2N06X Trailhead/Rock Garden (3.8
One of the smaller rock gardens, this rock garden is right at the 2N06X trailhead. A bit of rock stacking may be required to pass this area. Rock sizes range from 12 inches to 36 inches tall.
9. East Rock Garden (4.5
Another one of the small rock gardens, this little play area is riddled with rocks 12 inches to 36 inches tall.
10. Hard Corner Rock Garden (4.9
In the top 3 of the most challenging obstacles on the trail, this tight corner has very large rocks and water running through it. This one spot will likely cause a headache for many people. Because of the combination of a tight turn, water, and large rocks, this one obstacle is an easy place to get stuck. On top of that, it also has the possibility of incurring severe damage. If you take your time and plan your line, you should make it through.
11. Holcomb Creek Crossing (5
A popular gathering spot, Holcomb Creek offers plenty of open areas to hang out at. If the creek is naturally damned, water will create giant pools. Do not block the flow of the creek as that is against the forest rules. Don't forget to bring your gold pans because there is gold in that water.
. Between the western trailhead and 3N14 are several good areas to dispersed camp, while at 3N14 and 3N16 is Big Pine Flats Campground (Fee). Please note that you are not allowed to camp within 100-feet of waterways in the National Forest.
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 a bonus, most campgrounds have shaded sites, and a few 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 at 1-877-444-6777. Most campgrounds can accommodate both tent campers and RV's. All campgrounds have picnic tables and restroom facilities, and potentially have showers. 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).
Some locations may be inaccessible during winter months due to snow or closed; check with the local Ranger Station for updated conditions. More info can be found at
This trail has changed a lot, mainly because of the insane amount of water running through it right now. It's a must-do as it is a cool experience. The trail is a bit harder FYI at the center rock garden as things moved around.
The forest service has deemed the San Bernardino Forest unsafe for public off-roaders to use until June 30th.
For more information on this:
If you disagree with the complete forest closure, please call (909) 382-2682 and ask to speak to the head ranger.
You can also contact the head office in Washington,DC, and voice your concern there. (202) 912-7055
Another person you could contact your senator and express your feeling - (949) 598-5850 (Alex Padilla) or (202) 224-3121 (DC switch board)
If you are unhappy with this at all, please make sure you sign up for the local off-road collations (Cal4wheel, and Corva). Feel free to reach out to them and ask what you can do.
Cal4Wheel - (916) 381-8300
CORVA - 916-710-1950
We ran this trail from east to west. Trail had lots of icy areas that added to the fun on many of the obstacles, especially the middle rock garden! Don’t drag your stock vehicles through this trail, You may make it , but you will struggle and risk damage. It’s more fun in a vehicle that is prepared for this type of trip.
5 stars because I enjoy this trail.
Be cautious as there is a washout just past the west end gate keeper. It is a combination of off camber and a rise/dip that could pitch you over the side. We opted to back down and come back into the trail via Lower Larga.
Otherwise a great trail and a fun day!
Another super fun trail in the Big Bear area. This one requires skid plates and least a rear locker, but you'll want a front as well. We were traveling East to West with 9 rigs, all but one on 37's. One 2-door JK on 35's with F/R lockers. The middle rock garden in the hardest, and likely harder going "up" when going East to West. Had to winch one JK that literally got stuck between a rock and a hard place in the middle garden. Surprisingly the Gladiator and the 2-door JK made it through with the least trouble. There are a few other challenging obstacles, but all doable with good spotters. Got a little rain at the end which made it interesting.
Took the trail from east to west in my Goldie. We only did the trail to the 2N06X cut off since it was determined that Goldie would need lockers for the middle rock garden. The part of the trail we did do was very challenging but I made it through with no tugs with good spotting.
Recent rains have made for some intimidating, though passable, washouts, but the trail is in good shape otherwise. Both gatekeepers are mild right now, but the central rock garden is as tricky as ever; there were some nervous moments with rigs sliding sideways off of rocks!
This was our first time running this trail and the description was pretty accurate! Even running it the "easy" direction (west to east) was a challenge. My Brother-In-Law in his lifted and locked TJ on 35s made it through both rock gardens without needing a tug, but he did dent and bend his front driveshaft. My YJ on 31s with no lift and a front locker also made it through but I definitely needed to pull cable a couple times.
Trail in great shape and challenged everything the Jeep JKU Sahara with 2.5” on 35’s had to give. Rock rails and absolute must and now I know the sounds of using them over and over and over again. We ran the trail West to East. The middle rock garden is by far the most craziest crawling the Jeep has seen. But made it through with no damage, I’d say go over the rocks and trust your rig. The pictures don’t really give the perspective, the rocks are massive and slippery (definitely water for us). Jeep owners, don’t forget to download the badge of honor app and check in at the start of the trail! Can’t thank the Toxicos off road team for letting me run the trails with them. I can see why this trail is considered epic, you will too. If you consider running it with a rig like mine, take a spotter, you will use reverse (lots) to reposition, but must have strong rock rails, drag link and steering arm and confident control of potentially bad outcomes. I’d say for me the big break kit on front and back helps ease off the boulders. Good times had by all!
I was suprised to see the middle rock garden still hard... In fact it was hard enough to give people problems even without water. Now the east gardens were harder, but the big one at the west trailhead was super easy...
One word.... EPIC! Such a fun trail! We ran it from East-West so we saved the biggest rock garden for last! Definitely will test your skills as a driver and test your build. The obstacles are a load of fun. The 2nd Rock Garden gave the group the biggest problem. One had to finally break out the winch and another dragged the diff too much and caused a minor leak that we were able to patch up on the trail and finish it up. So grab your friends and go have some fun on Holcomb Creek!
Holcomb Creek Truck Trail is always fun. The little rock gardens are challenging, and it can be hard to pick your line even on 37s. We helped a stuck JL get through, he just needed a spotter. The rock gardens can have water in them, making the rocks slippery and even more exciting!
First time we did this trail was in 1985 with a brand new 4Runner that still had paper plates! Pictures of the White 4Runner are from the 1985 trip.
Ran this trail and had a blast. The center rock garden was very difficult with the water and sand causing the tires to slip. We got all 7 Jeeps thru with no carnage so it was a good day. Was really surprised at the amount of water still flowing at this time of the year. There was a new sign along the trail at the intersection of 2N06X that I hadn't seen before,
This trail is In my top 5 list of trails of all time and a Big Bear classic. This is the trail that transformed my rig to what it is today. As many times as I've wheeled it, I always come home with some pinstripes underneath on on belly skids. Personally, I think Holcomb Creek is more difficult than John Bull.(even though the Jeep BOH program says otherwise).
Took a buddy out here in is slightly modified JLUR to earn his Jeep BOH badge (first time on the trail). Its been a few months since I was last here, but I felt like there were more rock gardens than before? Anyways, after completing it my buddy said the same thing as me: this is more difficult than John Bull, lol.
Still my favorite trail up there. The winter was hard on the trail making it a bit more fun. The landslide was cleared and washouts have been fixed. But overall, the rock gardens are torn up in a fun and difficult way!!!
Please read the reviews and share with friends. The poor guy in stock Land Crusher was having a bad day. Really messing up his rig and he was heading for trouble down the trail and didn't know it.
Fun trail had and its and a open diff in our pack. Fairly easy trail. Hard parts are the gate keeper and the 2 creeks. Everyone made it with spotting in those 3 areas. I imagine in the snow some of the off camber areas can be scary. Ran this trail in the rain once and the rocks can get slippery so winching may be necessary in some spots.
The hardest trail i have ever done, but not to bad for a first time. i have a Jeep Cherokee 4.5 inches lift, long arms, and 33 inch tires. the hardest obstacle was the west gate keeper. you will need rock slides and armor to make it safe. is a fun trail since it gives you time to breathe between rock gardens.
The trail was great, the west gatekeeper is a little torn up but making it slightly harder because of the spacing of the holes. Once these holes are filled in, the west gatekeeper will be easier than normal. A lot of the large rocks have been moved around. Sad.
The middle wet rock garden is a mess :) Lots of fun.
My New Falken Tires were amazing on the trail. Best decision I have done with the jeep was putting these bad boys on.
Hit the trail today for the first time with a group of three jeeps and a pathfinder. We ran Gold Mountain, John Bull, and capped off the day with Holcomb Creek trail. There is a little water in the creek still and trail is in great shape. The weather was great, no congestion, and only minimal bruising.
A small group of us decided to do a night run at Holcomb Creek. A few people in the group had never wheeled at night. They are now wanting to do more night runs. This is the perfect trail for that. While we were waiting for it to get dark, we did a little rock garden drag racing. Great times!
Trip was awesome, the trail has a ton of springs running through it right now making it very slippery. We ran John Bull, Gold Mountain, Dish Pan Springs, and a few others and we had no issues until this trail.
From the Community
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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.
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