What’s John Bull Trail? It’s a good one.

Don’t get your knickers in a bunch – it’s also not the worst thing in the west, and it won’t kill your rig. However, John Bull trail is a destination run for SoCal four-wheelers because it’s challenging, it has lots of lines, some of the bonus lines can be especially difficult (especially for short-wheelbase rigs), it changes from month to month, and it’s accessible – just an hour or three out of Los Angeles and the SoCal metroplex (or nine hours, when someone spills latte in their Prius while “intexticated” and causes a 12-car pileup with a backup that goes to Flagstaff).

John Bull Trail is also semi-surrounded by the relatively charming former mining and current snow-adventure destination town of Big Bear Lake (as well as the more relaxed Lake Arrowhead, Fawnskin and a host of other quaint little protoTellurides), all of which make for dynamite destination-off-roading.

Unfortunately for all the miners, there wasn’t much gold.

John Bull Trail: Hard Points.

  • Forest Road 3N10 is an 11-mile trail, but the hard part is the easternmost mile.
  • The minimum-required equipment includes serious 33-inch knobbies and four-wheel drive. A rear locker and sliders are highly recommended, though we’ve been told John Bull can be handled without.
  • You can go both ways, but most folks run John Bull from east to west (starting from the end of Little John Bull or 3N32).
  • Finding the eastern end of John Bull from 3N32 is a little tricky. Get directions from your fellow ‘froaders, and look for the second clearing.
  • Rating? About 4 or 4.5 out of 5. Hard, but not ridiculous – there’s no kraken.
  • Because of the popularity of this trail, try to run it on off-days or you could wind up in a Jeep traffic jamb.

It’s important to keep the local off-road clubs that maintain trails (and a good relationship with the local constabulary) in the Big Bear area in mind when you’re enjoying a rock-and-bonk weekend in San Bernadino National Forest ‘froading zone.

As a bonus for this gallery, we’ve thrown in an assortment of shots from John Bull Jr. (otherwise known as Little John Bull Trail), which is a fun before-breakfast way to warm up for John Bull. However, if you want an actual shakedown before John Bull that requires some skills, we recommend a run up the way-too-popular Gold Mountain Truck Trail (3N69) en route. Mind your line (Gold Mountain is all about the line). Speaking of lines, a competent spotter on John Bull makes a big difference for less-experienced four-wheelers. Don’t skimp on the necessities.