At Home on the PCT

Cienaga Creek Ranch rests at 8,250 feet in the San Bernardino Mountains. Nice. But even better: The ranch is…

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Cienaga Creek Ranch rests at 8,250 feet in the San Bernardino Mountains. Nice. But even better: The ranch is smack dab on the Pacific Crest Trail, 8 miles southeast of Big Bear!

This secluded 50-acre retreat has seven rental cabins to choose from—the smaller with faux-frontier facades and names like Mountain Sunset and Wild Rose—each with a barbecue grill, fireplace, kitchen, and bedrooms with slit skylights and a jacuzzi tub. Romantic and idyllic for sure—plus two great day hikes are possible right from your front porch.

Pacific Crest Trail/Cienaga Creek Ranch
Cienaga Creek Ranch
Cienaga Creek Ranch
Cienaga Creek Ranch
Cienaga Creek Ranch
Pacific Crest Trail/Cienaga Creek Ranch
Pacific Crest Trail/Cienaga Creek Ranch
Pacific Crest Trail/Cienaga Creek Ranch
Pacific Crest Trail/Cienaga Creek Ranch

The northward hike on the PCT climbs 1,000 feet over 5 miles to Onyx Peak—there was once an active onyx mine on its slope. The southward hike, a 6.6-mile (round-trip) out-and-back to Coon Creek Cabin Group Campground, is a bit more scenic. Near the gateway sign for Cienaga Creek Ranch, walk south along a rough dirt road for half a mile to a dry wash. Here a narrow footpath diverges—take it. (Don’t worry; you’ll see a PCT marker.) The trail traverses a sparse forest of juniper and mixed pines (including limber, piñon, and Jeffrey), but shade is minimal, so shield yourself accordingly. It’s a remote stretch of trail, so you might be alone for miles. You’ll rise about 600 feet over rocky terrain to a ridge, then dip down to the dry Coon Creek, where a dirt road intersects the trail. A steep, treeless drop-off nearby offers deep views southeast into the sunbaked Coachella Valley. Primitive, notched-log Coon Creek Cabin, just up the dirt road, has fallen into disrepair, but the area is still pleasant for picnicking. Return whence ye came.

Take the I-10 to Redlands and exit onto N. University Street. Head north, then turn right onto E. Lugonia Ave. Continue east for 36 miles on CA-38/Mill Creek Rd. Turn right onto Rainbow Ln. to enter the ranch. Dog-friendly!

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