3N34 - Dishpan Springs

Lake Arrowhead, California (San Bernardino County)
Last Updated: 03/18/2018
5/5 (1 review)
Nearby Trails
Status: Open
Typically Open: Year Round
Difficulty: 6-9
Length: 3 miles
Highest Elevation: 5900 feet
Duration: About 3 hours
Shape of Trail: Straight Through
Best Direction to Travel: East
Nearest Town: Lake Arrowhead
Nearest Town w/ Services: Lake Arrowhead
Official Road Name: 3N34
Management Agency: San Bernardino Forest Service
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Highlight: 3N34 - Dishpan Springs

Dishpan Springs - 3N34 is a short, hardcore rock crawling trail that is a must-do for any off-road enthusiast! Nestled back in the mountain between Big Bear and Lake Arrowhead, this unique offroad trail isn't something to underestimate. Comprised of two extremely difficult waterfalls, this trail will put the best drivers and rigs to the test. Be ready...the top waterfall might leave a lasting mark on your vehicle, no matter if you are in a built 4x4, Rock Buddy Jeep, or over the top Toyota. This trail will make you wishing it will never end.


Route Information

Technical Rating: (6-9)

Severe rock over 15". Frequent deep holes over 15". Shelves over 15". Mud bog conditions (long, deep, no form bottom). Over 30" water crossings with strong currents. Steep grades over 30 degrees. Sidehill over 30 degrees. May not be passable by stock vehicles. Experience essential. Body damage, mechanical breakdown, rollover probable. Extreme caution required.

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3N34 or more commonly known as Dishpan Springs / Deep Creek and is a short but challenging rock crawling trail. On the trail, you will find mostly large granite rock climbs with lots of loose dirt on top, thus making for a very slippery challenge. The most challenging obstacle is in the second half of the trail when traveling east (commonly referred to as the Dishpan / Deep Creek Waterfall). This obstacle is responsible for the majority of rollovers in the SBNF trail system; however, there are multiple lines that can be used to get up it safely. Recommended vehicle requirements would be 32" tires and rock sliders. At least one hard locker would make it much easier, but it is not necessary if the driver is well experienced in off-road.


1. Trailhead and Airdown Spot

From this point on, the trail gets much harder. But the good news is the spot is very large and provides plenty of space for a large group to stop here, air down, and disconnect the sway bars.

2. Bridge (0.4 mi)

Once a deep water crossing, this bridge was added around 2003 to keep the trail open. This is a popular gathering spot because of the ample open area around the bridge and areas you can swim in. Pictures are of before and after the bridge was installed.

3. Lower Waterfall (0.5 mi)

Immediately after crossing the bridge, you will encounter the first waterfall. The line towards the center works well if you keep the vehicle angled uphill and towards the right. If you start sliding to the left, you better back down and try again or you will end up on your side quickly. There is a lot of traction so go slow, and you'll be fine. There is also a slightly less challenging route to the far left.

4. Upper Waterfall (2 mi)

After the first obstacle, you will go over a few small hills and some twisty sections but nothing to get hyped up about until you reach the main waterfall. Once you start your way up the long climb, you have two choices: a twisty rocky climb on the left or an easier-ish smoother route on the right. It doesn't matter though because once your up on top, your choices range from hard, harder, and dangerous. Get out and examine the trail at this point. If you take the far right line that goes directly up and over the waterfall, the risk of rolling over backwards is high. Immediately afterwards, traversing the off camber and extremely rutted center section is for lack of a better word, scary and has a high risk of rolling over onto the vehicles side. Don't attempt this line unless you have a low, wide, and stable 4x4 with a good roll cage. Your second choice is going around the waterfall and up the carved out center section. This route is tough with ruts so deep even vehicles with 37" tires might get high-centered on their axles. Recently, a new line has been created to the far left. This line is still very hard and requires at least one locker to make it through without a strap due to loose rock and dirt.

5. East End of Trail - 3N16 (3 mi)

This is the east end of the trail where it meets up with 3N16 – Holcomb Valley For more information on 3N16 – Holcomb Valley Trail, Click Here -

Directions to Trailhead

Trailhead Coordinates: 34.271151, -117.132033

Starting Point: Lake Arrowhead, CA

***West Trailhead.*** From San Bernardino, take Highway 18 North heading towards Lake Arrowhead. Then catch Highway 173 on your left. After roughly 1.5 miles, follow Highway 173 to the right. Approximately 3 miles later, you will come up to Cedar Glen gas station and turn right onto Hook Creek Rd. After about another 3 miles down a windy road, you will turn right as soon as the pavement ends (At this fork you will see a large white sign with a map of the local forest roads). ***East Trailhead.*** From Green Valley near Running Springs, take 3N16 – Holcomb Creek Trail roughly 4 miles and stay west after you cross the bridge.


There is no ideal camping along this trail, but there is Crab Flats Campground not far from the east trailhead. That location has outhouses, tables, and fire rings. 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. You are allowed to dispersed camp throughout the forest but you are not allowed to have any kind of open fire when not in a campsite. This includes a camp stoves, heaters, and anything with a flame. If you camp near any man made items, you will be required to display your adventure pass at all times. More info can be found at: San Bernardino National Forest Camping
Camping: 3N34 - Dishpan Springs

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 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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Trail Reviews (9)

Status: Open
Offroaded on:
This was my first time on the infamous Dishpan Springs trail. I've seen more videos of rigs flopped on their side here than anywhere in the San Bernardino mountains. The middle waterfall is where most of the carnage takes place, but you can take the easier line to the left (assuming you start at Deep Creek in Lake Arrowhead) near the tree. The trail is pretty short, but the two main obstacles provide a real challenge. The "9" rating seems to be on the high side, but then again, with all the rollovers that happen here I guess it makes sense. I think Holcomb Creek and John Bull are more difficult trails overall, but the main waterfall on Dishpan is probably more challenging than any single obstacle on either of those trails.

Author: Official Crew
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
It was a beautiful day to be on an awesome trail. Very few were camping due to the cold weather. Dishpan continues to be one of the hardest trails in the San Bernardino mountains.

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

Author: Official Crew
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
We ran Dishpan twice in two days. The first day we ran it from Deep Creek to Holcomb Valley. The second day we went back the way we came. Great trail. Running from Holcomb Valley to Deep Creek is a little more technical only because it seems more tippy. This is one of my favorite trails in the area.

Author: Official Crew
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
2016 Video of the Trail

Author: Official Crew
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Great trip today. Had a ton of fun but also had two rollovers. Can't wait to go back.

Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Video conquering Dishpan Springs off-road trail (white knuckle, axle breaking excitement). What a wonderful day with my 'first ministry' (my wife), as well as friends, and new friends. This trip consisted of five Jeeps, and ten persons. Regretfully we only have video of 'some' of the critical obstacles. We winched one Jeep, and strapped another that was ‘wounded in action.’ The only carnage we had today, was one axle shaft-yolk that broke. I feel bad that I wasn't able to help them repair that Jeep, but I have medical restrictions (Lord willing only for a season). But I was able to distribute some Gospel tracts.

Author: Official Crew
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Full Video of our trip

Author: Official Crew
Status: Closed
Offroaded on:
Just ran the trail and holy moly it has changed a lot in the last 6 months. The trail is very torn up and just getting to the main obstacle isn't easy at all. This trail could be the hardest trail on the mountain easily now. Expect tons of V-notches, larges rocks ever where, and the main spot is so torn up that there is no mild way up or down anymore. It's now either hard or stupid...