3N93 - Holcomb Creek Trail

Big Bear City, California (San Bernardino County)

Last Updated: 02/25/2022
5 / 5 ( 22 reviews )
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Status:
Open
Typically Open: Year Round
Difficulty: 6-8
( DIFFICULT - SEVERE )
Length: 5.76 miles
Highest Elevation: 6500 feet
Duration: About 4 hours
Shape of Trail: Straight Through
Best Direction to Travel: West
Nearest Town: Big Bear City
Nearest Town w/ Services: Big Bear City
Official Road Name: 3N93
Management Agency: San Bernardino National Forest
District: Mountaintop Ranger District

Highlights

Highlight: 3N93 - Holcomb Creek Trail
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.

Video

Route Information

Advanced Rating System

Recommended Vehicle:
Lightly Modified 4X4 (Small Lift and Larger Tires)
Concerns:
Summary:
The central rock garden has rocks up to 3-feet round that are mandatory.

Technical Rating

MANDATORY
6
DIFFICULT
OPTIONAL
8
SEVERE
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.
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Community Consensus

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Description

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.

Waypoints

1. West Trailhead At 3N16 - Holcomb Valley Road (0 mi)
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 mi)
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 mi)
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 mi)
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 mi)
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 mi)
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 mi)
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 mi)
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 mi)
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 mi)
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 mi)
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.
12. East Trailhead At 3N14 - Coxey Road (5.75 mi)
The trail intersects with 3N14 – Coxey Road at the Holcomb Creek Bridge. If you are on 3N14 – Coxey Road, Holcomb Creek Trail is west of the bridge.

Directions to Trailhead

Starting Point: Fawnskin, California

The trail connects at 3N16 – Holcomb Creek Trail and 3N14 – Coxey Road. Most people take this trail from 3N16 – Holcomb Creek Trail at 34.275322, -117.050809 but you can always take this trail on 3N14 at 34.300351, -116.982341. For more information on getting to the 3N16 – Holcomb Creek Trail entrance, please visit 3N16 – Holcomb Creek Trail. To get to the trail on 3N14 – Coxey Road, please take 3N14 – Coxey Road (Rim of the World Road and Coxey Road) from Fawnskin, CA roughly 4.25 miles north.

Camping

Dispersed
Improved
The trail has no areas noteworthy to camp at, but there is a lot of great camping not far from this trail off of 3N16. 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 Recreation.gov.
Camping: 3N93 - Holcomb Creek Trail

Trail Reviews (30)

Questions & Answers (1)

Q: Can a stock Rubicon make it through this trail? What are the minimum requirements?
–White JK (06/07/2019)
A: Also depends on how much rock stacking there has been done too... I have been out there and people have moved mountains to get a stock vehicle through.
–Josh Noesser (06/07/2019)
A: The short answer is maybe... A 2 door could likely do it with a fair amount of rock stacking and an expert spotter. Now a 4 door will likely struggle on the westernmost rock garden and most likely not have the ground clearance to get over the last few rocks. See waypoint 1 center photo. You really need a lift to do this trail with larger tires. The trail is mostly about ground clearance is most spots. Lockers will help in the large middle rock garden where it is often wet.
–Josh Noesser (06/07/2019)

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.