2N61Y - Heartbreak Ridge

Big Bear City, California (San Bernardino County)

Last Updated: 12/07/2021
4.7 / 5 ( 13 reviews )
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Typically Open: Year Round
Difficulty: 4-5
Length: 7.91 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


Highlight: 2N61Y - Heartbreak Ridge
Hidden on the east side of Big Bear in Southern California is a thrilling off-road trail that has almost been 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 is not often run 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 difficult narrow 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, which is unique to this trail, making it an excellent 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 than 2N61Y - Heartbreak Ridge.


Route Information

Advanced Rating System

Recommended Vehicle:
Stock SUV with High Clearance and 4 Low
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 4 and would require a stock high ground clearance 4x4 to take the perfect line through the eastern rock garden while the harder a 5. The ratings are based on rock size.

Technical Rating

Typically, more rock or undulated road surface. Potential rocks and/or tree stumps less than 18" tall and/or vertical ledges less than 18" tall and/or near vertical ledges or waterfalls less than 36" inches. Tire placement becomes more difficult. Can be steep and off-camber.
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Community Consensus

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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, turn around 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.***


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. Fork - 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 the hardest spot on the trail. With several places to roll over, and even more to get hung up, this little hill climb will require planning to make it up. The easiest line if going east to west is to swing wide at the bottom and go diagonal back towards the north as you head up the mountain. You may have to ride on the edge of a few rocks but a stock 4x4 can do this line. Please note, someone created a path off-trail to the north which is not a designated route. You are required to drive the difficult section of this trail.
4. Fork - Stay North/Straight (1.7 mi)
There are many trails that split off this trail. 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 trail. 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 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 this narrow canyon has become a lot easier over the years. 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 pretty tricky in the snow since it is on the north side of the mountain. According to which direction you travel, this trail 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 trail. 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. Dead-end (6.2 mi)
The trail dead-ends 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 trail. 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 for crushing 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

Starting Point: Big Bear City, California

You can get to this trail in 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.


Unlike most of the trails in the area, 2N61Y - Heart Break Ridge offers many 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 additional 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, so 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 at 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). Some locations may be inaccessible during the winter months due to snow or closed. Check with the local Ranger Station for updated conditions.
Camping: 2N61Y - Heartbreak Ridge

Trail Reviews (20)

Questions & Answers (5)

Q: I have a 2021 cherokee trailhawk with stock suspension, mopar rock rails and KO2s in stock size. I was thinking about doing this trail with a group. I don't mind scraping my skids and sliders but I don't want to be the guy who has to get winched out every couple hundred yards. Is this something I can do and if not, is there a bypass or an easier line?
–Zacharie Wright (12/21/2021)
A: You can do it, there is only one rock garden that might give you trouble. But if going east to west, go high at the start and go diagonal through it. You can make it. Have fun.
–Josh Noesser (12/21/2021)
Q: Got a JL Rubicon stock. Can I do this trail without under carriage damage? Got No lift.
–White JK (08/04/2021)
A: The simple answer is yes. But this depends on the driver a whole lot. There are lines through every obstacle a stock vehicle can do. But if you get off those lines, you could scratch the under carriage. But as far as doing damage to the under carriage, that isn't likely. The biggest risk is the stock steering stabilizer as it is down low and in a bad spot. Almost everything else is safely tucked up behind something like armor.
–Josh Noesser (08/04/2021)
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.