3N10 – John Bull

Big Bear City, California (San Bernardino County)
Last Updated: 07/10/2018
5/5 (7 reviews)
Nearby Trails
Status: Open
Typically Open: Year Round
Difficulty: 5-8
Length: 4.4 miles
Highest Elevation: 8200 feet
Duration: About 6 hours
Shape of Trail: Connector
Best Direction to Travel: West
Nearest Town: Big Bear City
Nearest Town w/ Services: Big Bear City
Official Road Name: 3N10
Management Agency: San Bernardino Forest Service
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Highlight: 3N10 – John Bull

This is a must do off-road trail when in Southern California. Often used as the proving grounds prior to a trip to the Rubicon, while attempting to conquer this extreme 4x4 trail, you can expect large boulders over 36 inches big, loose rocks that love to do body damage, and big trees that seem to jump out of nowhere and kiss your vehicle. Be warned though, this trail will put man and machine to the test. So if you are in Southern California and looking for an amazing yet challenging trail, look no further then this difficult trail, 3N10 - John Bull Trail in Big Bear's Holcomb Valley settling in San Bernardino's National Forest.


Route Information

Technical Rating: (5-8)

Heavy rock and/or severe ruts. Rocks exceeding hub height frequent. Shelves to 12". Deep mud or uphill mud sections. Steep grades to 25 degrees and can be loose or rocky. Water crossings may exceed 30" in depth. Side hill to 30 degrees. One vehicle wide. Body damage possible. Experience needed. Vehicle Modifications helpful.

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Commonly referred to as the mini Rubicon Trail, John Bull is one of the most difficult trails in the San Bernardino Forest trail system. Large boulders, tight turns, and small squeezes between trees are just some of the obstacles you will encounter. Once you arrive at the infamous "Gate Keeper" you will start crawling your way up boulder fields with rocks the size of small cars. Mixed with loose dirt, traction is minimal and ground clearance is your friend. Short wheelbase vehicles tend to fair better, but a properly armored SUV or pickup truck can make it though without many hang ups. There is no right or wrong way to run the trail, but most run it west to east. There are a few areas where it would be tricky to get by a group of vehicles that are going the opposite way.
Stay the trail, people are leaving the trail which will result in the trail being closed. Also, respect the historic items out there. Make sure the rocks you find or logs laying around are not tools or cabins of the old mining days. Many of the items have been destroyed recently.

Seasonal Information

Spring:Spring offers coold days with chances of snow still with cold nights.
Summer:The summer offers warm days and cool nights
Fall:Fall can bring lots of rain in the area with mild days and cold nights.
Winter:In the winter, the trail is usually covered in snow making it nearly impassable.


1. 3N32 Cutoff

This is where most people think John Bull trail starts but really is the middle of the trail. Just North of this spot is the Gate Keeper. East is John Bull East For more information on 3N32 please visit http://www.trailsoffroad.com/trails/1569-3n32

2. John Bull Gate Keeper

Tied with the large rocky area in difficulty, this area is a popular gathering spot because of the ample shade, cell service, and entertaining show. It is recommend that you have 33 inch tires, rock sliders, and a working locker to make it through this spot. Expect rocks larger then 32 inches and ledges over 24 inches.

3. Large Rocky Area

This area is the other super hard part of the trail. If you don't have a lift and at least 33 inch tires, you will likely drag your rocker panels. The rocks in this area are over 36 inches large and have drop-offs over 32 inches tall.

4. Overlook

This overlook used to be a yellow post campsite. At some point, a tree fell blocking the path down to the area. However, many people still stop close to the overlook and hike over. On top of the overlook, you are roughly 3,000 feet above the valley floor in front of you.

5. West Long Rock Garden

This is the longest rock garden on the trail, and it has some rocks that would love to catch your differential. Keep an eye out, and you will be fine.

6. West Small Rock Garden

This is the first rock garden when traveling from the west side. This little play area is fun, but be warned, the rocks are big enough to do damage to your rocker panels.

7. Dirt Hills (4.2 mi)

The dirt hills are a popular hang out and photo spot on the trail.

8. West End of Trail (4.4 mi)

If you decide to run this trail from west to east, this marks the beginning of the John Bull Trail.

9. 3N10 meets with 3N16 (5 mi)

To get to John Bull, turn North at 3N10 - West Connector from 3N16 – Holcomb Valley Road at this location.

Directions to Trailhead

Trailhead Coordinates: 34.317295, -116.874114

Starting Point: Big Bear Lake, CA

***East Trailhead*** Baldwin Lake Options 1 - Follow Highway 18 east of Big Bear Lake, turn left onto Holcomb Valley Rd towards the Big Bear landfill. Turn left onto 3N16 just before the landfill entrance, after about 2 miles your come up to 3N02 on your right. Turn onto 3N02 and follow it about 1 mile to 3N10, turn left onto 3N10 to enter "John Bull Trail", at just under 3 miles you will find the "Gate Keeper" this is the official start of the trail. Option 2 - Follow Highway 18 east of Big Bear Lake, turn left onto Holcomb Valley Rd towards the Big Bear landfill. Turn left onto 3N16 just before the landfill entrance, after about 2 miles your come up to 3N32 on your right. Turn onto 3N32 and follow it about 1.5 mile to 3N10, the trail dead ends into John Bull. Fawnskin From Fawnskin, take 2N09 north till it dead ends, turn right on 3N16 and travel roughly 1.5 miles and turn left on 3N32. Follow it about 1.5 mile to 3N10, the trail dead ends into John Bull. ***West Trailhead*** Fawnskin From Fawnskin, take 2N09 north till it dead ends, turn left on 3N16 and quickly go right on 3N10. The trial dead ends into John Bull.


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 http://www.fs.usda.gov/activity/sbnf/recreation/camping-cabins. You are allowed to dispersed camp anywhere in the forest, but you are not allowed to have any open wood or charcoal fires any time of the year.
Camping: 3N10 – John Bull

Land Use Issues

This trail is open year around. But they will randomly close trails in the area during certain times of year with no warning. They are also trying to close this area for the winters, thus please contact SBFS for access information before making your trip and let them know you want to keep this trail open year around.. For more information, please contact the Big Bear Discovery Center at 41374 North Shore Drive, Highway 38 Fawnskin, CA 92333 Mailing address: PO Box 290 Fawnskin, CA 92333 (909) 382-2790 (voice) (TDD/TTY dial (800) 735-2922)

Writer Information

Josh Noesser

Mapping Crew - California
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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. This 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." But IT isn't Josh's only talent. He also has a very extensive background in Off-Road Marking, Mechanical Engineering, Automotive Tech, and Fabrications. 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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Trail Reviews (11)

Status: Open
Offroaded on: 06/17/2018
Ran the trail from West to East today....fun run, only ran into 10 other jeeps on the trail. The Eastern Gate Keeper is pretty destroyed, only 1 real rock to get over now. :(

Status: Open
Offroaded on: 06/09/2018
Love this trail!! Depending on traffic in front of you this trail can be ran relatively quick. However John Bull keeps you on your toes from start to finish! Rock rails, skids and lockers will be needed. Damage is very possible however it is worth the good times. If your rig isn't up to the match drive up to the gate keeper and pull up a chair for lunch you're sure to catch groups on the weekend.

Author: Official Crew
Status: Open
Offroaded on: 04/09/2018
Great little trail, ran it in about 30 minutes. The weather was amazing... Couldn't believe it was April. Someone did tear up the east rock garden something fierce. Sad to see when someone moves all the rocks out of the way. But my New Falken Tires were amazing on the trail. Best decision I have done with the jeep was putting these bad boys on.

Status: Open
Offroaded on: 01/27/2018
Conditions were perfect.

Author: Official Crew
Status: Open
Offroaded on: 09/14/2017
Top 5 Hard Trails in Big Bear Holcomb Valley

Author: Official Crew
Status: Open
Offroaded on: 07/01/2017
A small group of us decided to escape the heat and do some wheeling up in the Big Bear area. The John Bull sounded like a good time. This last winter has made the trail a little more technical than last year, but nothing too difficult. Once you get past the gate keeper you have seen the worst of it. The changes in the trail made for a great time. I will probably run it again very soon.

Author: Official Crew
Status: Open
Offroaded on: 07/01/2017
What a great day... Had a ton of fun.

Author: Official Crew
Status: Open
Offroaded on: 05/05/2017
Well, the snow is gone and the trail didn't change much this winter. Maybe got a little easier I do think we might have found John Bulls Cabin and mining area which was pretty cool.

Author: Official Crew
Status: Open
Offroaded on: 03/19/2017
This is a great trail! There is some snow on the east side of the trail, but it is still passible. We ran this in my JK and my brothers International Scout, just after running Gold Mountain.

Author: Official Crew
Status: Open
Offroaded on: 09/17/2016
Another great trip... It is easy to see why this is probably the most popular driven hard trail in Southern California.

Author: Official Crew
Status: Open
Offroaded on: 05/01/2016
Great day on John Bull. The trail was really slippery making it fun. Our group was able to make it through with minimum stacking. We watched several other groups go through and just destroy their rigs.