2N90 - Tip Top Mountain

Big Bear City, California (San Bernardino County)
Last Updated: 01/15/2019
4.5/5 (2 reviews)
Nearby Trails
Status: Open
Typically Open: Year Round
Difficulty: 3-3
Length: 1.7 miles
Highest Elevation: 7548 feet
Duration: About 1 hour
Shape of Trail: Out & Back
Best Direction to Travel: N/A
Nearest Town: Big Bear City
Nearest Town w/ Services: Big Bear City
Official Road Name: 2N90
Management Agency: US Forest Service
District: San Bernardino
Showing 0 trails


Highlight: 2N90 - Tip Top Mountain

Tip Top Mountain was home to a silver, lead, and gold mine back in the late 1800's up through the early 1900's. The name of the mine changed a few times over the years as the mine switched hands, with the earliest name being Tip Top Silver Mine. Today you can still find the mines throughout the area, but many are unsafe to explore and the Forest Service has blocked many of the mine entrances. The top of Tip Top Mountain has a 360 degree picturesque view, with diverse scenery ranging from the sun-drenched desert landscape to the lush, and at times snow-capped mountains of the San Bernardino National Forest. Tip Top Mountain is just one of the many trails you can venture upon on what locals call, "the back way to Big Bear" and it truly is a gem. So, indulge yourself in the beautiful scenery, weather and trail systems this area provides.


Route Information

Technical Rating: (3-3)

Dirt road. Rutted, washes, or gulches. Water crossings up to 6" depth. Passable mud. Grades up to 10 degrees. Small rocks or holes. 4WD recommended but 2WD possible under good conditions and with adequate ground clearance and skill. No width problems for any normal vehicle. Vehicle passing spots frequently available if less than two vehicles wide.

Read more about our rating system


Tip Top Mountain offers some extraordinary views from the top, and if you decide to venture up, be ready for some fun and exciting wheeling! The out and back road to the top of Tip Top Mountain is very narrow and only big enough for one rig to travel up at a time in a single line formation. To make it to the top you will need 4WD and be in 4 Low and not afraid to drive on a narrow ledge with a stretch of rocky areas that you will need to drive up and over. Patience is a must as the rig in front makes its way up. There is a place to turn around in the middle of the trail if you lose your nerve, but this is the only place to turn around until you reach the top. Lockers are a plus on this trail but they are not a must. These trails traverse two different climate regions so please check the weather reports before setting out on your journey! Pioneertown area weather http://www.weather.com/weather/tenday/l/USCA0870:1:US Big Bear area weather http://www.weather.com/weather/tenday/l/Big+Bear+Lake+CA+92315:4:US#/!

Seasonal Information

Spring:Trail is usually dry unless there have been recent rain.
Summer:Trail is usually dry and dusty.
Fall:Trail could have snow in late Fall.
Winter:Trail could be impassable due to snow.


1. Tip Top Mountain TrailHead

Tip Top Mountains trailhead is located just off 2NO2, also called Burns Canyon Rd. Trail 2NO2 comes to a fork in the road where you can turn right off of 2NO2 and on to Tip Top Mountain trail 2N90. You will see a clear sign at the trailhead of Tip Top Mountain so you know you are in the right location. Shift into 4WD, and air your tires down here so you can get a little more traction as you work your way over rocks. Continue down a smooth dirt road until you reach the base of Tip Top Mountain's trail then the fun begins!

2. Rock Garden (0.35 mi)

We have made it to the first of many rock gardens along the way to the top of Tip Top Mountain. This is where airing down your tires comes in handy. The rocks are not very big, but can be a bit slippery and unstable. Watch as you bounce off and over rocks so you don't get to close to the edge of the trail. Although you have not worked your way up the trail very far, the drop off is still a good ways down.

3. Half Way Point (0.6 mi)

You have reached the half way point of the trail. You can turn around here if you do not want to continue to the top, or you can keep to the right of the trail and head all the way up. This spot is big enough for a few rigs to park side by side, and is a good point to take a break, have lunch or just enjoy the view before you hit the top. There is another trail off to the left side you can take from this point, the 2N90C, which is also an out-and-back trail. At this point along the trail there is a few options and a few short offshoots, each fun nonetheless, so pick one and enjoy the ride!

4. Loose Flat Rocks (0.7 mi)

After you continue on the trail, from the half way point, you run into another rock garden with loose flat rocks. Take your time as you work your way up the mountain. This side of the trail also has a large drop off on the drivers side, so hug as close to the passenger side of the ridge as you can. Like most places along this trail, it is only wide enough for one rig to safely work its way up the trail.

5. Washboard Rock Garden (1.1 mi)

This Rock Garden fits its name, its a little climb littered with good sized rocks that bounce you around on your way up. This spot is not too bad, just a few large rocks to watch out for as you go up and over them. Think of it like a nice back massage as you bounce your way up to the top of the trail. Once again watch the driver's side drop off as you bounce off rocks to make sure you do not get to close to the edge. Before you start up the Washboard rock garden, there is a turn off for trail 2N90B. This is a fun out and back trail. At the very end of the trail is an old mine that has been gated off. It is a fun little off shoot to explore.

6. Summit Climb (1.5 mi)

You have almost made it to the top of the trail, to claim victory over the Tip Top Mountain! Just one last rocky stretch and your at the top. This rock garden isn't too strenuous, mostly loose broken rocks, but it does have a diff hanger in the middle if you are running in a stock height rig. For the most part, the hardest sections of the trail are behind you. After here, just one more turn before you can revel in the views!

7. Tip top of Tip Top Mountain (1.7 mi)

Round the last of the turns on the Tip Top Mountain trail, and park on either the upper or lower plateau. Both plateau's are wide enough to park multiple rigs side by side. Here you can see the nearly 360 degree view of the diverse terrain. Take some time to admire the scenery before you head back down the same way you came up. Hang on! The ride back down is a little bumpier then the ride up.

Directions to Trailhead

Trailhead Coordinates: 34.254917, -116.710747

Starting Point: Pioneertown

Directions to trailhead headed on the I-10 East bound from the Inland Empire or Los Angeles. Take the I-10 East bound until you see exit 117 onto CA-62 to Yucca Valley/ 29 Palms Continue 20 miles on CA-62. Turn left off of CA-62 onto Pioneertown Road continue 8.8 miles on Pioneertown Road until it becomes Rim Rock Road. Follow Rim Rock Road until it crosses Burns Canyon Road, turn left off of Rim Rock Road onto Burns Canyon Road, Burns Canyon Road becomes an unpaved dirt road. Continue 13 miles on Burns Canyon Road. You will start to see 2NO2 trail markers along Burns Canyon Road indicating that you are on the right trail. Continue until you reach a turn on your right, called Tip Top Mountain/ 2N90. This is the trail that takes you up to the top of Tip Top Mountain. Please stay on all marked roads as you make you way through Burns Canyon Road-2N02


No camping spots along Tip Top Mountain trail. For camping, check out the many camping areas, including yellow post sites, around Big Bear Lake.

Writer Information

Clifford (Cliff) Bennett

Mapping Crew - California
Read More

A native Californian that has extensively traveled the Pacific Southwest, and now retired from an Engineering career with much time to spend off road. I enjoy off road travel exploring, and camping. Because I have the luxury of spending my days as I want, I am most interested in traveling overland and camping in dispersed sites. One thing I like about TrialsOffroad is the vast information about trails I have not traveled, and, to be able to set up a base camp and visit the nearby published trails. Thanks for the opportunity to be involved; I look forward to meeting many of you on the Trail.


Questions & Answers (0)

No questions have been submitted.

Trail Reviews (4)

Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Fun trail with an awesome view at the end. When combined with he 2N90 offshoots and connecting trails it makes for a great all day easy-moderate difficult run. Best part is seeing the low lying desert transition to high elevation forests form the overlook at the end. Difficult rating seems spot on and while the trail is narrow any vehicle less than H1 width shouldn't have too many problems.

Status: Open
Offroaded on:
What a trail! Fun, rocky trail with some great inclines and large, sharp rocks that require a little skill to maneuver. Absolutely stunning views of the surrounding area too that you just can't beat. The first half of the trail is certainly the harder part because it's relatively smooth sailing once you get to the clearing. We did this trail in lifted tacomas but stock tires (Goodyear Wrangler). Definitely passable for stock height vehicles but 4wd is definitely a must since there's no possible way to turn around if you get stuck on the trail. Trail is very narrow on the edge of some large cliffs most of the way so be careful and pick good lines. Check out my video for a detailed report.

Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Best views you'll get anywhere. Trail is super rocky and narrow, but not extremely steep.

Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Our adventure consisted of 8 Jeeps, and 11 persons. We most certainly all had a great time. The weather was beautiful, and the dust was minimal, the scenery was awesome. Our team included myself as lead, Joe M. as tail gunner, and everyone in between. We were off the road at 0930, and back on the asphalt at 1330. This gave us with 4 hours of pleasurable scenery, v-notches, steep inclines, and declines. These trails also provided us with some enjoyable obstacles, and a most technical gateway. I did get videotape of some of the obstacles, but not all of them. Being a lead and alone in my Jeep, it was not always easy to accomplish this. On one obstacle Kevin volunteered to spot, so that I could capture those Kodak moments. Then while Kevin and Barbara descended down this gnarly hill, Mark spotted them on their way down. As often, the video I have provided is deceiving, and the team will agree that the terrain was more critical than depicted in the video. Todd surprised us with a nice snack. He sacrificed a pig at his altar, barbequed ole Elmer, and then served his burnt offerings to us. Todd even provided us with latex gloves. The team kept in communication with each other regarding road terrain changes, and assessments. After completing 2N17x, we took a vote as to which way we would exit the mountains. A majority decided to take 2N33 ‘Pilot Rock’ back to Highway 173, and we all stayed together. Our rigs endured no carnage, but more importantly no one was injured except for one. Evidently I forgot my own words at the drivers meeting, that no one gets hurt on the trip. I experienced a serious roll over. I rolled over and over and over down a steep hill. But thankfully it was my own body that rolled, and not my Jeep. It’s amazing how our highly modified rigs can be more coordinated than our own bodies. Thank you team for making this trip happen. Play hard, have fun, and do it safely. Video here (this video consists of shots from our pre-run on Weds & the actual run Sat.) https://youtu.be/vuYS2DjGzuo