2N61Y - Heartbreak Ridge

Big Bear City, California (San Bernardino County)

Last Updated: 09/06/2018
4.7 / 5 ( 6 reviews )
Information
Nearby Trails
Status: Open
Typically Open: Year Round
Difficulty: 3-5
( MODERATE - DIFFICULT )
Length: 8.9 miles
Highest Elevation: 6800 feet
Duration: About 3 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: 2N61Y - Heartbreak Ridge
Management Agency: San Bernardino National Forest
District: Mountaintop Ranger District
Distance:
Showing 0 trails within 2 miles

Highlights

Highlight: 2N61Y - Heartbreak Ridge
Hidden on the east side of Big Bear in Southern California is a thrilling off-road trail that has been almost forgotten by the off-road community. 2N61Y, also known as Heartbreak Ridge, is one of the less commonly traveled 4x4 intermediate to difficult trails in San Bernardino Forest near Big Bear California. Even though this classic offroad trail is on the list of hardest trails in the mountain range, it has been almost completely forgotten since it is far from the more popular trails on the west side near Holcomb Valley. Because of its location on the east side of the mountain range, this trail doesn't see much traffic, meaning it is a great place to get away from the crowds and do a little exploring. But just because there is not much traffic on this trail doesn't mean it is an easy Jeep Trail. With several rock gardens, several spots with high rollover risks, and a narrow difficult canyon, this trail will provide most drivers an enjoyable day of off-roading with some amazing and stunning views and the excitement of the historical mining that once was popular all over the mountain range. Also, the trail offers a lot of dispersed camping along it which is unique to this trail, making it a great overland route when looking for an overland adventure in the Big Bear area. Thus, the next time you are looking for a new and exciting trip, think no further then 2N61Y - Heartbreak Ridge.

Video

Weather

7 day forecast for 2N61Y - Heartbreak Ridge

Route Information

Advanced Rating System

Recommended Vehicle:
Stock SUV with High Clearance and 4 Low
Concerns:
Summary:
The trail has several areas of rock crawling. The more popular one is on the east side of the trail which has two lines through it. The easier line would be rated a 3 while the harder a 5. The ratings are based on rock size.

Technical Rating: 3-5
( MODERATE - DIFFICULT )

Typically, more rock or undulated road surface. Potential rocks and/or tree stumps less than 12" tall and/or vertical ledges less than 12" tall and/or near vertical ledges or waterfalls less than 24" inches. Tire placement becomes more difficult. Can be steep.
Read more about our rating system

Description

2N61Y - Heartbreak Ridge is a great trail for everyone from beginners to experienced wheelers. The trail offers plenty of options as far as difficulty, while at the same time, offering hours of entertainment with the rich and historic mining areas. The route is hardest going east to west, but don't be fooled, west to east isn't much easier. The hardest obstacle is a rocky hill climb at Waypoint 3 where some of the rocks are rather large, requiring a precise line to be taken. Outside of that spot are several other areas that are noteworthy. The western hill climb has a 2-foot waterfall while the Heartbreak Ridge Loop has several off-camber areas, steep-ish hill climbs, and technical spots. But note, a new driver can complete this trail in a stock 4x4 with high ground clearance and an experienced spotter. For people with less ground clearance, it is recommended to enter from the west side, turnaround at the Heartbreak Ridge Loop, and exit the way you came in. This trail is perfect for first-time offroaders, beginners, novice offroad motorists, intermediate drivers, and experienced trail enthusiasts. But if new to off-roading, make sure you do this trail with a more experienced wheeler that can help you through the more difficult areas. ***And don't forget Rule #1 - Never Off-Road Alone.***

Waypoints

1. 2N61Y Heartbreak Ridge and 2N02 (0 mi)
This is the eastern trailhead for 2N61Y - Heartbreak Ridge. This trail splits off of 2N02 and heads to the south. The split is in a corner and can be easily missed because it is commonly thought to be a pullout area for a view.
2. Stay North (Straight) (0.5 mi)
A trail splits off of 2N61Y and heads south down the mountain. To stay on the trail, stay north.
3. Rocky Hill Climb (Illegal Bypass on Northside) (1.1 mi)
The eastern rocky climb is one of the hardest spots on the trail. With several places to roll over, and even more to get hung up, this little hill climb will require some planning to make it up. Please note, someone created an off-trail path to the north which is not a designated route. You are required to drive the difficult section of this trail.
4. Stay North (Straight) (1.7 mi)
There are many trails that split off this path. This one heads south and leads to a dispersed camping spot. ***Please note, it is rare for wood fires to be allowed outside of a campground. Please don't burn down what is left of the forest by having a wood fire outside of a designated fire ring. Bring a propane campfire if you plan on camping in dispersed areas.
5. Heartbreak Ridge Loop aka Pontiac Sluice (1.9 mi)
There are many trails that split off this path. Go south at this point to head towards Heartbreak Ridge and complete Pontiac Sluice and the Heartbreak Ridge Loop.
6. Old Pontiac (2.1 mi)
On the way up to Heartbreak Ridge, there is a narrow canyon that is commonly known as Pontiac Sluice. The reason for the name is an old 50's Pontiac that was left behind. Over the years, the vehicle has been mostly destroyed but is still interesting to see. Continue onward for a tight narrow canyon that has medium sized rocks on it.
7. Optional Hard Line (Trail Splits) (2.5 mi)
On the way up Pontiac Sluice is an optional hard line where the trail splits for a short distance. It is common for people to play on the hard line. Past this point, the trail splits. The lower line is the harder line, but not remotely as hard as the previous trail, while the higher line is easier.
8. Sluice (2.7 mi)
The Sluice used to be a hard obstacle, but over the years, this narrow canyon has become a lot easier. Today, this section of the trail provides nearly no difficulty but does provide stunning views.
9. Heartbreak Ridge Loop (Left Easiest, Right Hardest) (2.8 mi)
Heartbreak Ridge is a short loop trail that looks over the south and east side of the mountain range. At one of the higher points in the mountains, the up-climb can be quite difficult in the snow since it is on the north side of the mountain. According to which direction you travel, this path can be difficult. Right - Hardest Left - Easiest
10. Top of Ridge, Mine, and Dispersed Camping Areas (3.4 mi)
Once near the top of the mountain, there are a bunch of dispersed camping spots. On the south side of the trail are an old mine and a plaque for a fallen Marine.
11. Scenic Waypoint - Top of Mountain (3.4 mi)
The 360-degree view from the top of the mountain is breathtaking.
12. Off Chute to Old Mine - Stay North (5.7 mi)
There are many trails that split off this path. This one heads south and leads to an old mine.
13. Big Bear Hot Tub (6 mi)
An old prospecting mine, this spot along the trail looks like a hot tub.
14. Mine (6.1 mi)
One of the many mines in the area.
15. Deadend (6.2 mi)
The trail deadends in a small area. Larger groups will struggle to turn around here.
16. Old Trail to Mining Area- Stay North (7.6 mi)
There are many trails that split off this path. This one heads south and leads to an old mining area.
17. Arrastra (7.8 mi)
See an old Arrastra from when they mined the area. These were used to crush rocks to extract the ore.
18. Strip Mine and Dead End (8.2 mi)
The trail ends at a strip mine. The area is large but will require some work for larger groups to turn around.
19. Alternate Route to Old Mining Area (Stay Straight) (8.4 mi)
Continue straight to stay on the main trail. There are several mining areas in this spot on both sides of the trail. There is a lot to explore in this area. Watch out for snakes and cactus.
20. Western Rocky Hill and Ledges (8.8 mi)
What used to be the hardest section of this trail is now one of the easier difficult spots. This hill climb used to be fitted with large rocks and deep holes. Today, most of the rocks have been pushed off the trail leaving only one obstacle, a small waterfall that is slightly off-camber. The waterfall is no larger than 2 feet but will be more difficult for people with their swaybars on and/or lower ground clearance. Even though this spot is difficult, most stock 4x4's should be able to make this obstacle. But if you do struggle here, it is not recommended to attempt Heart Break Ridge or the east half of the trail past the Heart Break Ridge turnoff.
21. 2N61Y Heartbreak Ridge and 2N01 (8.9 mi)
2N61Y - Heartbreak Ridge splits off of 2N01 just before 2N01 and 2N02 connect. The trail splits off to the southeast heading at a 90-degree angle from the trail.

Directions to Trailhead

Trailhead Coordinates: 34.227325, -116.671731

Starting Point: Big Bear City, CA

You can get to this trail via two ways. ***Eastside:*** Go south off of 2N02 at Waypoint 2 (34.227325, -116.671731) and run it west. ***Westside:*** Take 2N01 to Waypoint 9 (34.222391, -116.726171) just before where it connects with 2N02 and run it east.

Camping

Dispersed
Unlike most of the trails in the area, 2N61Y - Heart Break Ridge offers a lot of options for dispersed camping. Some of the more popular spots are on top of Heartbreak Ridge at Waypoint 10, but there are many other locations along the trail to stop, relax, and enjoy Mother Nature. Some of the other waypoints that offer good camping are 4, 10, 14, and 18. These spots are not yellow post sites, meaning no improvements have been made to the area. This also means that wood fires will likely not be allowed in these spots, thus plan accordingly with an alternate means of staying warm. Do not burn down what is left of the forest because you were not prepared. One way to avoid having a wood fire is to purchase a propane campfire. If you are more about camping at a campsite so you can enjoy a wood fire, 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.
Camping: 2N61Y - Heartbreak Ridge

Trail Reviews (12)

Author:
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
I have done this trail several times, this year the rock garden seem less forgiving. I think the area around waypoint 3 and the east end of the trail needs to be re-evaluated by the official crew and marked as such. Of course this trail was just as beautiful as always!

Author:
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Rating:
Awesome trail with great views and fun challenges throughout the trail. A little tight for my full size Ram but we had a great time while adding a few pin stripes!

Author:
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
I feel like this trail doesn't get the notoriety that deserves. There's all different types of terrain in this one that makes it fun no matter what you're into. Lots of long dirt track roads on the way to the main trail head but once you're on the trial. There's some fun little climbs, a few rocky garden bits and great views 10/10 would recommend. Checkout the video from my most recent trip.

Author:
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Ran this trail with two other Jeeps. Hadn't been on this trail on over 8 years and it was everything I remembered it to be. This has to be one of the best trail in the area. Had a BBQ at the top and enjoyed the great weather. Can't wait to get up there and run it again.

Author:
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Rating:
This is a retroactive report from earlier this year when we dragged my stock Cherokee Trailhawk KL with a blown transfer case and limited to 2WD up Heartbreak in the snow and ice. It was a harrowing trip that involved winching and then finally abandoning the Cherokee part way up to Waypoint 10 and making a break for it in the dark to get to our planned campsite at the top. Only one of our vehicles made it past the ice under its own power and the rest of us had to winch up. In hindsight, we should've turned back, but in the moment we wanted to press on. It was an evening and night I'll never forget. Don't try this in the snow like we did.

Author:
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Rating:
First time out in our new JL. We were out with an experienced group but would say the Rubi did fine. In stock form we did have a few clearance love taps under neath but nothing crazy. We checked out the old mine and Marine Memorial up top. Other than our group we only ran into 3 other rigs so very quiet. I would say for the moderate to experienced this is no big deal. For us being new and first time out it was definitely a challenge and glad I wasn't alone. We accessed the route from Broom Flats.

Author: Official Crew
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Rating:
Great Trail! Waypoint 3 is a lot of fun!

Author:
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Rating:
We just did this route today. It was a blast. I highly recommend it.

Author: Official Crew
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Rating:
What a great trail. I love this part of the mountain range. This was the first rock crawling trail I attempted with my new Falkens, overall I was extremely happy. They are some great tires. #FalkenTires

Author:
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Today my wife and I spent a long day off-roading. Our favorite trail this day was the infamous 'Heartbreak Ridge.' However our hearts were not broken. Frankly our lunch spot in the dirt was more ‘bonding’ than a fancy dinner. Considering I had no spotter, my Jeep did very well crawling over many rocks (though I'm not a rock crawler), and a few technical obstacles. To my surprise not even one hard bump or grind. So that both of us could enjoy the thrill from the ‘inside’ of the Jeep, we only videotaped some of the obstacles. Initial entrance off the pavement is Highway 18 at Cactus Rd (GPS cord 34.17.827 / 116.48.038), which turns into Smarts Ranch Rd. Turn S/E onto SRR, which turns into Burns Cnyn Rd, keep going straight to 2N02, then S/W to location. The actual trailhead GPS is 34.13.526 / 116.40.850 (from the lower end). The GPS that I have seen elsewhere is in the middle of private property.

Author:
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Today my wife and I spent a long day off-roading. Our favorite trail was the infamous 'Heartbreak Ridge.' However our hearts were not broken. Frankly our lunch spot in the dirt was more ‘bonding’ than a fancy dinner. Considering I had no spotter, my Jeep did very well crawling over many rocks (though I'm not a rock crawler), and a few technical obstacles. To my surprise not even one hard bump or grind. So that both of us could enjoy the thrill from the ‘inside’ of the Jeep, we only videotaped some of the obstacles. Initial entrance off the pavement is Highway 18 at Cactus Rd (GPS cord 34.17.827 / 116.48.038), which turns into Smarts Ranch Rd. Turn S/E onto SRR, which turns into Burns Cnyn Rd, keep going straight to 2N02, then S/W to location. The actual trailhead GPS is 34.13.526 / 116.40.850 (from the lower end). The GPS that I have seen elsewhere is in the middle of private property.

Author:
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Had a chance to check out Heartbreak Ridge today, and the trail has re-opened. We stopped at the top to check out what looks to be an old mine, and the Alan Rowe Memorial Plaque. You can still see the remnants of the fire and the retardant on adjacent ridges, but nonetheless the views along the ridge are spectacular. We also enjoyed the rocky sections Heartbreak has to offer over the length of the trail. We cruised 9 rigs down Heartbreak in a little under an hour and a half or so.

Questions & Answers (3)

Q: Anyone have a status of snow on this trail? Thinking about going next weekend, but a little concerned with all the weather that came through last weekend.
–Eddie Hilburn (12/31/2020)
A: Probably best as heartbreak loop can get dangerous if icy. Dont forget to post a trip report on Afton Canyon if you haven't already.
–Josh Noesser (01/05/2021)
A: Played it safe and went to Afton Canyon instead - next season!
–Eddie Hilburn (01/05/2021)
A: Did you go last weekend? I heard the snow was down on the trail but not sure how deep.
–Josh Noesser (01/04/2021)
Q: Josh - would you take your Ford? We have about the same setup (I'm in a RAM) I leveled the front, on 35" Toyos, rear locker. But also a crew cab short bed.... Experienced in off road, but will also be solo next weekend...
–Dan Householder (11/03/2019)
A: Probably not, I would expect to drag tail in some spots. Also my nerf bars hang down low which could be a little low.
–Josh Noesser (11/04/2019)
Q: Has anyone ran this in other than a Jeep? How about a fullsize 3/4 ton truck? I've got a 2500, 2" lift on 35's. Wondering how much trouble I'm asking for...
–Dan Householder (11/03/2019)
A: With a lift and tires, you will likely be fine. Might have to plan a line here and there.
–Josh Noesser (11/04/2019)

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.