Hiking In The San Bernardino Mountains During The Month of February
Day hikes in the San Bernardino Mountains in February are starker than during spring when the flowers are in bloom. During the winter months, the foliage is dormant, and thus a bit more Mars-like. The lack of color in the landscape creates a bold contrast with the blue sky and the green found in the sparse chaparral. Also, people who detest the heat would love hiking in February, even during this past one when it was a bit warmer than usual. Some years there is even snow surrounding the large boulders, and that can be quite challenging and fun to navigate. There are many forested areas near Lake Arrowhead and Big Bear to go hiking in, but the backside of the San Bernardino Mountains is a chaparral land with large rocks. Actually, I love hiking out by the Pinnacles because the boulders are magnificent, and the scrub brush surrounding these has a subtle color of green. If you love large boulders, then hiking on the backside of the San Bernardino Mountains might be for you.
Planning a trip to the San Bernardino Mountains in February is pretty easy for people used to mountain driving conditions. However, keep in mind that snow may be falling in February, and there will be chain enforcement.
Use the map to plan a hiking trip up in the San Bernardino Mountains.
I hiked up the back side of the Pinnacles, which is literally covered in boulders. There was no precise trail here, so it was a bit challenging in places. I could have gone to the top, but I decided to turn back because I had been out hiking for a couple of hours. People who are into bouldering love the large rocks out at the Pinnacles, but scaling boulders is not really my thing. I need to keep my feet firmly on the ground to enjoy a hike that is somewhat slow and steady. I can walk fast when I have to, but enjoy taking my time when out on a luxuriant nature hike. Yes, I want to take in the view.
There are no wild flowers blooming on the backside of the mountain during the winter months, but I enjoy looking at the pop of green color that can be found here and there. This little pine tree is an example of how hikers will run across the occasional pine in this chaparral land.
The Pinnacles are hills that are dotted with large boulders, which are similar to ones in Joshua Tree. Actually, many areas in California have large granite boulders, but this is the best way I can explain the boulders in this part of the San Bernardino Mountains. The only difference is there are no Joshua trees at this altitude, and chaparral and pinyon pines are found in this part of the mountains.
I remember trying a raw pinyon pine nuts on a hike many years ago as a child. The nuts were quite tasty, perhaps one day I will run across another tree with cones that has nuts.
Boulder outcroppings found in nature often influence how boulders are used in landscaping. The photos below will illustrate how large rock arrangements in nature often inspire landscapers going for the more natural look.
The large boulders here at the Pinnacles are very similar to the boulder formations found at Joshua Tree National Park. I am just more used to these ones because I grew up hiking at the Pinnacles.
The beaver tail cactus grows extensively in the Mojave Desert, but it also grows at higher altitudes up in the San Bernardino Mountains. The arid climate of the Pinnacles, except for a few snow and rainstorms, is perfect for cacti to thrive. Beaver tail cacti produce edible fruit which Native Americans in this region used to consume.
The video below is a slide show of photos that I took during my February hike to the Pinnacles.