There are many trails to choose from in the area around Big Bear Lake Calif. Many are modest day hikes, like this one on the Pine Knot trail. They make for a part day moderately climbing up through forests of White Fir, Jeffrey Pine and Canyon Live Oak to excellent view points. This particular trail offers about 1000' elevation diff and some 13 km return on a well maintained path used extensively by bikers and hikers. The objective is hike up into the high ridge and forest to the Grand View Point where views of Anderson Peak and Mt San Gorgonio (11,500') are available. This is an excellent day hike and highly recommended if you're in the SoCal area.
The trail head is located in Aspen Glen, a USFS picnic area only a few km west of the town of Big Bear Lake. Excellent parking is available but a USFS park pass is required.
The summit area at the end of the trail is called the Grand View Point and it is really a beautiful place with interesting geology, high elevation pine forest and excellent views to the south including Anderson Peak
The trailhead is easy to find, well marked and has lots of available parking (pass required). The trail is well maintained, aligned more for mountain bikes than hikers but very interesting.
The forest on the trail consists of Jeffrey Pine, White Fir, Canyon Live Oak and some Ponderosa Pine. There are surprisingly large specimens for such a dry, nutrient poor landscape.
Very intriguing to wander through groves of naturally occurring Canyon Live oak trees amongst the giant pines.
Shots from the Grand View Point area at the ridge summit, including Anderson Peak in the background
Curiously enough, they are Jeffrey Pine, but very similar to Ponderosa. Strikingly similar bark but it's the cones that give it away. "prickly ponderosa" versus "gentle jeffrey". The terminal umbo of the ponderosa will stick in your hand but the jeffrey cones won't. The smell of the bark is also different, ponderosa being resinous while jeffrey smells thick and sweet, kind of like a cheap scented candle.
At that elevation on the north aspect, ponderosa is not too common but it is more so on the south aspect as it tolerates drought better than jeffrey. However, i would contend there are places in northern california where jeffrey and ponderosa hybrids exist.
Those high elevation California forests are unique and so beautiful. Not at all like ours, but glorious all the same.