FAWNSKIN, CALIFORNIA. When summer arrives in California, many turn to the several amusement parks within the state or the beaches along the Pacific coast as their source of relaxation. However, if seeking an alternative to these activities, camping should seriously be considered. In the day and age of internet access in the palm of your hand, this may appear as boring or archaic due to the lack of phone signal and WIFI connectivity. Nevertheless, camping is worthwhile if never done before, but more importantly by disconnecting from social media you have the opportunity to relax and reconnect with yourself.
Southern California is home to the majestic San Bernardino and San Jacinto mountain range. Not only do these mountains offer the chance to escape the intolerable heat, but they also offer a variety of tranquil campsites. Personally, these two reasons alone were what initially motivated me to go camping at the Hanna Flat Family Campground.
Specifically, this campsite is government funded and operated by the California Land Management and National Forest Service. In total, this campground has eighty-five camping sites available, but reservations are required for sixty-seven of them. To make a reservation, they can either be made online or by calling 1-877-444-6777. As indicated by the National Forest Service’s website, these reservations can be made up to six months in advance or even twenty-four hours beforehand. Keep in mind however that the sites are available on a first-come first-serve basis. Each single site costs $26 per night and accommodate up to eight people. They each have one campfire ring, one picnic table, and one parking space. Other amenities provided are bathrooms throughout the campgrounds, clean drinking water, and firewood available for purchase at $7 per bundle.
On my stay at Hanna Flat I had the opportunity to meet Moriah Schnose, an avid camper who enthusiastically shared her opinions on this campsite. “The staff working on the campgrounds truly makes a difference. Not only are they friendly and well-informed about the campgrounds and its respective surroundings, but they show a genuine care for us campers.” An example is that when checking in, they instruct each camper on emergency evacuation procedures in case of a wildfire. Moreover, these hosts make many rounds throughout the camp to ensure that all campers know that they are readily available to answer any questions or concerns. According to Schnose, “no other campsite has ever taken the time to ensure my safety and overall satisfaction to the same degree.”
Conveniently located in Fawnskin, a small town about a fifteen minute drive from Big Bear Lake, Hanna Flat ensures that its campers have numerous activities at their disposal. Out of her many camping trips throughout Southern California, Schnose found this particular site to be her favorite. “Fawnskin offers an authentic opportunity to truly immerse oneself in nature. Although it is not so removed from civilization, there is that quality of truly escaping from the city-feel.”
At the campsite, campers can mountain bike, hike, or even horseback ride through the Hanna Flat trail. This trail begins right on the campgrounds and leads up to the summit of Gray’s Peak. In total, the hike should not last more than a couple of hours. Moreover, if they campers are lucky they can spot bald eagles and their nesting grounds scattered throughout the trail. Christopher Lopez, my camping neighbor for this trip, commented that “the views on the hike are scenic, breathtaking, and absolutely perfect.” Now, if campers decide to leave Hanna Flat for part of their day, they can certainly drive down to Big Bear Lake. At the lake, anyone can rent out jet skis, sail boats, and also kayaks at moderate prices. Moreover, swimming is always permitted and when it is the right season, campers can go out to the lake to fish.
From the city of San Bernardino, the best way to get to the campgrounds is to take the CA-210 west freeway and merge to the CA-330 north Mountain Resorts highway. Once on this road, the CA-330 north will become CA-18. Continue on this highway to get to Big Bear. Well onto the road there will be a signal light with a sign indicating that Fawnskin will be to the left. Once turning left on this light it the road will be the CA-38, which ought to be continued until you reach Rim of the World Drive. Turn left and continue past the County Fire Station, even after the pavement ends the road turns into Forest Road 3N14. After driving on this dirt road for a couple of miles, the Hanna Flat Campground will be visible on the left-hand side.
Overall, Hanna Flat in the San Bernardino Mountains is certainly a hidden surprise worth discovering. Like the romanticists of the 19th century who admired the stunning beauty of nature, my recent trip out to this campground in Fawnskin was magnificent. Not only did it leave me awestruck and moved by the picturesque beauty that lies in the backyard of Southern California, but it helped me reconnect with myself away from all distractions.