Overview and Route: "Where the Birds Slept"
Heart Bar Peak is an 8,332 foot peak in the San Bernardino National Forest, about 12 miles southeast of Big Bear Lake. The origin of the name has no connection with any background of love and romance. Rather, the name has a very mundane origin, named after the nearby Heart Bar Ranch in the upper canyon of the Santa Ana River. The old center of the ranch is now Heart Bar Campground, located 1.5 miles west of the summit.
The Serrano Indians who inhabited the area called the summit “Pawarakam”, translated as the “summit where the birds slept.” This would certainly be a more interesting name.
Although a series of fire roads and jeep trails wind to Heart Bar’s summit, the route given below is via the peak’s north slope and provides a very nice cross-country experience.
From the parking area (see next section) at 7,240’ elevation, start up the jeep track designated 1N38. After a few minutes of hiking, look for the peak’s broad ridge trending north/south. Take a right (south) off the road onto the fairly steep ridge and proceed to the summit. The summit’s high point is a rocky outcrop.
Going back down, you can either retrace your steps down the ridge or pick one of the main gullies as a descent route. The round trip for this route is about 3 miles with 1,100 feet of gain. You would have a 5 mile roundtrip if you elected to take the fire road all the way up and down.
Getting ThereComing from the west, take Interstate 10 to the University Street exit in Redlands. Turn left onto University and proceed through the campus of the University of Redlands to Lugonia Ave./Hwy 38. Turn right on Hwy 38 and proceed through the town of Mentone up into the mountains. In about 33 miles you will pass 1N02, the road to Heart Bar Campground. Continue straight on Hwy 38 another 1.6 miles to an obscure, paved road signed 1N38 that intersects the highway at a right angle. This intersect is at mile marker 35.13. Turn right onto 1N38. You can either park on this road just off the highway or drive downhill on this dirt road to a clearing on the side about 150 yards from the highway turnoff.
Red TapeYou will need an Adventure Pass to park at the starting point for ascending this mountain. They cost $5 for a daily pass and $30 for yearly. Interagency Annual, Senior, and Access Passes may also be used. These passes are sold at Forest Service stations, most sporting goods stores, and, as of February 1, 2008, on-line.
CampingThe nearest camping is Heart Bar Campground, about 1.5 miles west of the summit. It is reached by taking 1N02 off of Highway 38 (see “Getting There” section).
When to Climb/Mountain ConditionsThis peak can be climbed year round. During winter months, check beforehand with the National Weather Service forecast for the San Bernardino Mountains about weather and with the California Dept. of Transportation about road conditions. With snow cover, equip yourself appropriately.
Other InformationUSGS Topos: 7.5 Moonridge
External LinksAdventure Pass information
Purchasing forest parking passes on-line
National Weather Service forecast for San Bernardino Mountains
California Dept. of Transportation