3N17 - White Mountain

Big Bear Lake, California (San Bernardino County)
Last Updated: 06/23/2018
4.7/5 (6 reviews)
Nearby Trails
Status: Open
Typically Open: Year Round
Difficulty: 3-7
Length: 8.5 miles
Highest Elevation: 8500 feet
Duration: About 4 hours
Shape of Trail: Connector
Best Direction to Travel: East
Nearest Town: Big Bear Lake
Nearest Town w/ Services: Big Bear Lake
Official Road Name: 3N17
Management Agency: San Bernardino National Forest
District: Mountaintop Ranger District
Showing 0 trails


Highlight: 3N17 - White Mountain

White Mountain off-road trail offers some of the best views in the San Bernardino Mountain Range. Close to Big Bear, it is a great trail for the type of 4x4 / wheeler that likes steep hill climbs offering alternate routes from moderate to extreme. This is also a good trail to run for the people who are looking for a enjoyable drive along the northern spine of the mountain range. The views along this trail are unique as for you can see Johnson Valley, Lucerne Valley, Cougar Buttes, Apple Valley, Barstow, Calico, and at night see lights of Las Vegas.


Route Information

Technical Rating: (3-7)

Rocks frequent and large, 12" and may exceed hub height. Holes frequent or deep (12"). Shelves to 9". Mud 8" deep and may be present on uphill sections. Grades to 25 degrees and sidehill to 30 degrees. Water crossings to 18" and may have strong currents. 1-1/2 vehicles wide. 4WD required. Driver experience helpful.

Read more about our rating system


White Mountain is a popular overland trail with rock crawling, steep hill climbs in spots, and is over 8 mile long. The rating is on the edge of moderate where most stock short wheel base (4x4's) can handle the trail. Now for the more extreme people, the trail does have alternate routes that will make even the most extreme drivers say no. There are two hill climbs, one of them has spots over 55 degrees steep and at times have a vertical ledge in the middle and the other is also steep but on very loose rocks with ledges you have to climb. But these can easily create trouble for even the most experienced drivers, thus it is advised to proceed with caution..

Seasonal Information

Spring:Warm days with cool to cold nights.
Summer:Warm to hot days with warm to cool nights.
Fall:Warm days with cool to cold nights.
Winter:Snow is common for the area.


1. Trailhead (West End)

This is the west most trailhead. The trail goes east from this point. There are signs saying White Mountain, thus the trail is rather easy to find.

2. Stay South or West at Horse Springs Road (0.5 mi)

The trail intersects with a spur off to a camping spot and the trail Horse Springs Road, please stay to the south if traveling east or north if traveling west.

3. Optional - White Mountain - North Peak (3.5 mi)

White Mountain offers several obstacles, one is the climb up to the North Peak. While up there, you will be introduced to some of the most amazing views of the Lucerne / Johnson Valley Area. It is said on a clear night, you can see the lights of Vegas.

4. Optional - Hill Climb aka Suicide Hill (Easy Route On The Right / West) (4 mi)

Suicide Hill is a crazy steep hill climb on the left side / east side of the trail that could easily be your last hill climb. If you are a bit insane you can try the climb. The final destination is the South Peak of White Mountain. While climbing this hill, you are subject to ascents of over 55 degrees, thus be mindful of how much throttle you are giving because one little mistake may make for a very bad day. You also need to be mindful of the rocks on the climb, since you are already at 55 degrees in spots, any extra lift on the front of the vehicle could be just a little too much and start you rolling the long distance down the mountain. The easy path is on the right/west and loops around the mountain.

5. Optional - White Mountain - South Peak (4.2 mi)

This is the second overlook along the trail. From the top you will continue to have amazing views of the High Desert, Johnson Valley, Big Bear, the Ski Slopes on Summit, and Holcomb Valley.

6. Midway Exit - 3N11 (5.5 mi)

One of the great features of White Mountain besides the views is that there are 4 exits to the trail, this is the midway exit on 3N11that takes you back to 3N16 – Holcomb Valley Road right at 3N14 – Coxey Road. If you continue straight on White Mountain Trail there is one additional optional hill climb similar to Suicide Hill that is note worthly. The main path is slightly harder then then the west half making it for a great drive to get some different challenges.

7. Connector Trail - 2nd Exit From East End (3N56) (7 mi)

This is the 3rd Exit or 2nd Trailhead from the east most end. The trail shows on the maps as 3N56. 3N17 has a lot of flat areas in this spot that would be great for dispersed camping.

8. Optional - Hard Loose Hill Climb (Stay Left/North For Easy Route) (8.1 mi)

Tied in difficulty, this hill climb can easily turn a good day bad. The hill is full of large loose rocks and plenty of small loose rocks making it very slippery. You have to be careful or you could easily get sideways and find yourself tumbling down the mountain. The easier line is staying on the low side which is the north side of the trail.

9. 3N17 White Mnt East Trailhead at 3N16 (8.5 mi)

The far most east trailhead at 3N16 – Holcomb Valley Road, this is a popular place to either start White Mountain or end it.

Directions to Trailhead

Trailhead Coordinates: 34.360160, -117.057160

Starting Point: Fawnskin, CA

The trailhead is up on the north side of Big Bear Lake, CA. Make your way to Fawnskin Fire Station and take 3N14 – Coxey Road all the way back roughly 12 miles to where it splits with 4N16 - Grapevine Canyon . Take 4N16 - Grapevine Canyon to the east / right. The trail will be on the right at waypoint 7 on 4N16 - Grapevine Canyon which is not far down on the trail.


Because of the remote nature of 3N17, this is one of my favorite areas to get away from the city. The trail follows the northernmost ridge of the mountain range making for amazing views along the route. Because of this, the trail has some of the best-dispersed camping in the area. My favorite spots are to the east of 3N11 due to the many large open areas that could easily support a large group. Please note, since this is dispersed camping, fires will likely be illegal. Thus if you are looking for a new camping spot, just take 3N11 and turn to the right and stop at the first spot that fits you personal desire. 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: San Bernardino National Forest Camping The entire forest allows dispersed camping but with major fire restrictions. This trail does offer a built out campsite on 4N16, which may have liter fire restrictions. Please check with the rangers office for the current fire conditions.
Camping: 3N17 - White Mountain

Writer Information

Josh Noesser

Mapping Crew - California
Read More

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.


Questions & Answers (2)

Q: Wondering if my Jeep Cherokee Trailhawk could make it... There's an easier bypass of Suicide Hill, right? The guy who wrote a review below made it seem impassable for me... Thanks!
–Frank Marino (08/08/2018)
A: Just realized its a Cherokee without the air suspension. You'll want a lift for this trail. I spent most of it in OR2.
–David Beas (09/30/2018)
A: Hi Frank, just wrapped up White Mountain in a GC Trailhawk with KO2’s, otherwise stock. You will want some spotting assistance but you can make it. Several spots caused anxiety but all good. Bottomed our a couple of times but no damage.
–David Beas (09/29/2018)
A: This might be a might much for a stock new model cherokee.
–Josh Noesser (08/09/2018)
Q: How is the trail between 6, and 7? Is it easy enough to run starting at 7 and going to 6?
–Aaron (07/20/2017)
A: That is the high rating. There are a couple spots if you take the alternate lines it can be hard. The easy lines of the trail are a solid 3 which is suitable for most high clearance stock 4x4's. The first section between the two points starting at 6 is the hardest. Past that it gets easy again.
–Josh Noesser (07/20/2017)

Trail Reviews (7)

Status: Open
Offroaded on:
I took my STOCK 2018 wrangler unlimited base RENTAL( LOL I know) to this trail coming down from big bear, it was my mistake because I thought I was on 3n14( original plan) for a while. We were so lucky we made it down in one piece, without damage. Downhill on 3N17 is way easier than uphill. I do not recommend inexperienced drivers and this trail should not be travel on your own. Great scenery, defiantly will comeback with prepared rig.

Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Had a challenging and fun time on this trail. This was my third time off-road and made it through with a friend spotting some of the more difficult areas. I am in a 18' GC Trailhawk and was with an 18' Tacoma off-road and 16 Wrangler 2-door. The Wrangler had a pretty easy time for most of the trail. The Tacoma and I had to pick our lines a but more delicately.

Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Very nice and challenging trail. Good for intermediate drivers. Lots of rocks so keep an eye out or you might accidentally hit your sidewall or axle. Managed to make it up Suicide Hill in my stock TJ w/ 31s but I probably wont do that again. Dont forget to stop by the summit to take in the views.

Author: Official Crew
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
This trail provides the most epic views of Lucerne Valley on a clear day. I love this trail! We traveled from west to east this time but I've done it two other times going from west to east.

Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Ran part of White Mountain yesterday (4/7/18). Got about halfway up from west to east and ended up having to turn around at the bottom of 'suicide hill' due to it being almost impassable for a Range Rover with 22" of clearance, long travel, 31" tires, and locking front and rear diffs. It appeared from what we could see (we walked about 1/2 mile up from where we stopped) that the hill was now covered in what looked like large pieces of very loose shale, sharp rocks, and small boulders, like something you'd find from an old mine tailing. Bottomed out the front diff a couple times trying to get back down the first rocky section, and, honestly, even though I don't know exactly how far the loose section went, I'd say you couldn't do it in any vehicle without at least 33's if not bigger. I've heard conflicting reports about the rating of this trail, the sign at the beginning off 3N16 Holcomb Valley Road says Blue "Moderately difficult" but the reports I've seen on other sites say due to the topographic change, it's considered a black diamond now. My GoPro ran out of juice before we got to the hill, but it was sketchy, that's the only word to describe it. Or downright scary.

Author: Official Crew
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Top 5 Hard Trails in Big Bear Holcomb Valley Area

Author: Official Crew
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Another great trip on a great trail. Even did Suicide hill this time...