So you're thinking about hiking Castle Rock in beautiful Big Bear Lake? Then I would say: "YES! Do it!" Castle Rock is a fairly moderate hike. It does have an increase in elevation but the trail is clearly marked and it leads to a beautiful view of the valley (If you scramble to the top).
Castle Rock is located on the Southwest side of the lake. If you're coming up from the San Bernardino area you will cross over the dam and look for the hike on the right side of the road. There is some parking on the opposite side of the highway about 200-300 feet from the start of the hike. Judging on how many cars are parked will give you a glimpse into how busy the trail will be.
On my last family visit to Big Bear I took my daughters on this hike. We did the hike in the middle of the day, which can be not the ideal time, but it was great! You have to keep in mind that you're hiking at 6000 feet elevation! We had to pose for a picture in front of the sign to make sure we let everyone know we did the hike! You can see the trail marked behind us.
As we began the ascent Leah took off like a rabbit. She was loving the first part while Sophie was tired and dragging. Doing this hike with kids you need to be ready for anything. Since I could tell the altitude was getting to them we had to take our time. I think it took us about an hour to make it to the top. This included many water breaks and much bribery, I mean encouragement, on my part.
The trail is beautiful. I shared stories with my kids of hiking this same trail at their age. We had some glimpses of the lake and then you circle around the backside of Castle Rock. We made it to the base and had lunch on a rock. The girls enjoyed the view but I wanted to get on top. My guess is that it had been at least 20 years since I had hiked to the top. It some maneuvering but I made it. When they saw me up there it was game on!
For the next 15 mins or so I helped both of the girls make the final ascent. It's not the easiest part and some families might choose to not make it to the top. But the view from the top is breath-taking! We sat up top and ate a snack. There are chipmunks that will even come up to you!
After enjoying the view we took the time to walk back down. As with each hike the descent is typically quicker than the ascent. We laughed, smiled and talked the whole way down. It was a great afternoon with the girls (while Isaiah napped at home). After we made it back to the cabin we treated ourselves to a Slurpee!
Next time you're in Big Bear consider making this a memory you have with your family or friends!