The History of Lake Arrowhead

Month: December 2017

The History of Lake Arrowhead

In 1826, the first white man to set foot in Little Bear Valley (now known as Lake Arrowhead) was a fur trader, who was a partner of Jedediah Smith. At that time, about 40 Paiute Indians, a warlike tribe, used the mountains for their hunting grounds. They lived in the high desert area. Many of these Indians were killed in a fight with the white men of Little Bear Valley, as a result of the Indians setting fire to one of the cabins in the Valley. At the same time, a more peaceful tribe of Indians, the Serranos, lived near Little Bear Valley, in an area now known as Rock Camp on the North side of the mountain. They did not bother the settlers until one of the white men made advances to an Indian maiden, which caused a skirmish killing both Indians and white men.
Later in the 1860′s, the main attraction for the white man at Little Bear Valley was logging, lumber, and cattle, and there were several saw mills in and around the Valley. The first so-called “Mormon Road” up the mountain was built in 1852. The “Daley Canyon Road” was built in 1870. Summers were productive in the Valley, but everything stopped in the Winter. A few families remained during the Winter months and the only diversion was to snowshoe to their neighbors (usually miles away) to visit.

In 1891, three Ohio businessmen chose Little Bear Valley as a likely spot for a reservoir, to supply water to the southern lowlands. Land was purchased and water rights were obtained. The Arrowhead Reservoir Company was formed. In 1890, a tramway, (a cable powered device) was built from Waterman Canyon up the mountain for the purpose of transporting supplies for the building of the dam. However, engineering problems rendered it unsuccessful. Consequently, supplies and machinery were transported via the switch-back road. Construction of the dam for the reservoir started in 1893. Camp I on the North slope of the Valley served as living quarters and mess hall for the workers.
In 1905, the property was transferred to a new corporation, Arrowhead Reservoir and Power Company, because the idea of utilizing the water for power had been conceived. The dam is what is known as a semi-hydraulic fill dam. It is 200 feet high, 720 feet long, and 1,100 feet thick at the base. It has a steel reinforced concrete core wall embedded 20 feet in bed rock. The trees and brush were removed from what was the bottom of the lake, so the decay would not be a problem. The lake filled slowly from runoff.
By 1912, the dam was 80% complete, and work continued for several years after that. The plans called for over 60 miles of water conveyances and tunnels. However, only 6 1/2 miles were completed, when it became known that the State ruled in favor of the ranchers on the upper desert side of the Northward facing watershed, and passed laws which prevented the diverting of water from its natural watersheds for other than domestic use. Thus the company was stopped with continuing its plan to transport water to the areas south of the mountains, and even though the lake was filling with water, the project was abandoned.
The Arrowhead Lake Company, a Los Angeles syndicate, bought Little Bear Valley and surrounding land (deriving the name from a natural formation in the form of an arrowhead on the face of the San Bernardino Mountain, near Arrowhead Hot Springs, which is rooted in Indian legend).
The Arrowhead Lake Company’s plan was to develop the mile high man-made lake into a fine recreation and residential area. Between 1921 and 1923, the dam was completed (31 feet higher than originally planned) and a road was constructed partially around the North shore of the lake. The Norman styled village which included a dance pavilion, outdoor movie theater, restaurant, beach and bath houses was completed. Three hotels were built; the Arlington Lodge, Village Inn, and North Shore Tavern. A 9-hole golf course was built on the site of the present golf course. Some of the lake side land was subdivided and was sold for private homes and secluded north shore estates. Many Hollywood stars stayed at the hotel during the era, and some purchased homes in the resort. The studios frequently used the area for making films.
A domestic water system, pumping water from deep in the lake, supplied water to homes and structures. Strict conditions affecting the use of land and building Arrowhead Woods were recorded with each tract, including the removal of trees.
During the World War II years, Lake Arrowhead Village was a popular rest and recuperation area for service men. Because of gas rationing, tourists were scarce.
In spite of the lot sales, financial troubles developed and Arrowhead Lake Company went into receivership. In 1946, the Los Angeles Turf Club (owners of Santa Anita Race Track) purchased the lake and surrounding properties, known as Arrowhead Woods. Several million dollars were spent by the Turf Club, within the first few years of their ownership, improving the properties. No lots to speak of were sold during the Turf Club ownership. However, they made several donations of land to various organizations, such as the Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, San Bernardino County, churches, and Sister of St. Joseph of Orange (the builders of the hospital). They also donated $50,000 for the construction of the hospital. The famous North Shore Tavern was donated to the University of California and is now a popular conference center.
In 1960, three businessmen/developers from Los Angeles bought Lake Arrowhead and formed the Lake Arrowhead Development Company. They built the present 18-hole golf course. Eighteen residential tracts were subdivided, also with strict deed restrictions, and included in Arrowhead Woods.
A water filtration plant was built to filter domestic water supplied to the Arrowhead Woods residences.
In 1967, Lake Arrowhead Development Company merged with Boise Cascade Corporation of Boise, Idaho. Boise continued the subdivision of properties and developed five additional residential tracts.
In 1971, Lake Arrowhead was purchased by seven businessmen from Chicago. In 1973, Boise Cascade was forced to reacquire Lake Arrowhead through foreclosure. This Chicago group retained some of the properties not mortgaged by Boise, including some unsubdivided acreage. At the time Boise reacquired the property, they were faced with the problem of building a new dam or lowering the lake 70 feet, due to a study required by the State to be made of all dams in California following the Van Norman Dam incident in the 1971 Sylmar Earthquake. The study found the Arrowhead dam would probably be unsafe if an earthquake of 6.5 magnitude were to occur in this area.
However, Boise felt that the building of a dam should be shared by all property owners in Arrowhead Woods, and legislation was passed to permit a bond issue to be voted on by property owners to finance the building of a new dam downstream. A bond for seven million dollars was passed in 1974 and an earth fill dam was built. A small lake was formed between the two dams, named by a local resident, Papoose Lake.
The property owners in Arrowhead Woods bought Lake Arrowhead in October 1975 from Boise, and Boise sold their remaining holdings in Lake Arrowhead to Metropolitan Advertising Agency in 1977. In 1978, a group of investors, headed by developer, George Coult, bought the Village and Lodge properties, and in April 1979, a “Burn to Learn” exercise was conducted by the Lake Arrowhead Fire Protection District, with the San Bernardino County fire departments and Air Corps taking part. All structures in the Village were burned down except the original dance pavilion building, the post office and real estate office.
The beautiful new Village was built in much the same architecture as the old Village, and the dance pavilion was restored as the theme building, which now houses businesses. The Village includes a complete convenience shopping center, restaurants, boutiques, gift shops, specialty stores, factory outlets and lake tours on a 60-seat capacity paddle wheel.
The spectacular Arrowhead Hilton Lodge, now the Lake Arrowhead Resort and Spa, was built on the site of the original Arlington Lodge and opened in November of 1982.
Today, Lake Arrowhead is not only a popular recreational area for visitors, it is also a beautiful year round alpine residential community at 5100 feet elevation.
For more information on our history please visit the Rim of the World History Society website.


2.5 mile loop, easy walk
This lakeside trail begins from the back of the South Beach Parking area in Lake Gregory Regional Park.
From Highway 18, take Lake Gregory Drive to San Moritz Drive. Turn Right on San Moritz and look for the Parking area on your left.
This is a great hike for dogs.

SEELEY CREEK TRAIL – 4W07 (Heart Rock) #4
1 mile each way, easy walk in Crestline
To reach this short trail turn left on FS Road 2N03 at the entrance to Camp Seeley on Highway 138.
Proceed ¼ mile to the trailhead, marked “Heart Rock 4W07”.
This easy hike follows Seeley Creek to an overlook called “Heart Rock” which marks the trail’s end.
The gentle grade of this trail makes it an excellent walk for all ages. The Adventure Pass is not required at this trailhead.

Moderately difficult Hikes in Cedar Glen
Located on Hook Creek Rd. in Cedar Glen (off Hwy. 173) Drive to end of Hook Creek Rd.
The road becomes a forest service dirt road. Stay left when the road forks.
Soon you will see an open gate on the right leading to a ½ mile drive to the picnic & restroom area.
An Adventure Pass is required to park at the trailhead. Follow the signs to Deep Creek and the Pacific Crest Trail.
The Pacific Crest Trail stretches from the Mexican border to the Canadian border so you can choose your own distance on this one.

1.7 miles each way, moderately difficult
Begins near site #11 at the North Shore Campground in Lake Arrowhead
(2 ways to reach the hiking trail)
To Reach trail #2N25:
Take Hospital Rd. (off Hwy. 173) When you drive up Hospital Rd. you will see a road on your left & a North Shore Campground sign.
Park along the road outside the campground. Proceed to site #11 where you will see the North Shore Recreation Trail sign
To Reach Trail #3W12:
Turn east on Torrey Road opposite the Lake Arrowhead Marina (on Hwy. 173)
Turn at first left and follow the dirt road 1/2 mile to where you reach the trail head on the east (right) side of 2N25.

1 mile loop, easy walk in Sky Forest
This interpretive trail is located 2 miles east of Sky Forest on Highway 18.
The trail is an easy walk for all ages that takes you through a self-guided tour with 25 points of interest about native plants and wildlife.

4.5 miles each way, moderately difficult in Running Springs (12% grade)
This trail will take you into some of the San Bernardino Mountains’ most beautiful country. This non-motorized trail crossing the 3,400 acre National Children’s Forest is open for use year round & is family-friendly. The trail starts on Keller Peak Road (first right after Deer Lick Fire Station, traveling toward Big Bear) in Running Springs on Hwy. 18. The trailhead is on the right a little way inside the gate. (The gate is locked from the first snowfall until the road is completely thawed and cleared of obstructions in the spring.)

0.5 mile loop, easy walk
This paved nature trail begins near the top of Keller peak Road in Running Springs.

THE PINNACLES 5745 #Just Past No. 10
3.5 mile each way, this is a moderate to difficult hike
To get to this trail head take HWY 173 down to the shooting range.
When you see the shooting range sign on your left , turn left on the left hand side of the shooting range (on the same side of the street) you should see the trail head post.
There is limited parking. The views from this hike can be quite spectacular so bring a camera plus we recommend plenty of water.
For a printable copy of the Lake Arrowhead trails hiking guide click here

Dogwood Camp Ground is just at the top of the hill near Lake Arrowhead. Beautiful grounds, surrounded by mature pine, cedar and oak trees. A peaceful setting to camp overnight or for a week long vacation.

This family campground is located 20 miles northeast of San Bernardino, CA in the San Bernardino National Forest. There are 87 resolvable sites. There are no first-come/first serve sites.  Activities include Interpretive programs on Friday and Saturday nights, hiking trails, 15 minutes away from Lake Gregory, with boating, fishing and a water slide park.  Amenities and services include camp host, dump station, RV hookups, fire rings, firewood sales, interpretive trails, interpretive programs, picnic tables, showers and restrooms. Accessible. Lake Arrowhead Village, with its fine dining and quaint shops, is only 5 minutes away.














Let’s go Hiking!

Heaps Peak Arboretum Trail – 3W05
0.9 miles, loop, 1 hour – easy

Self-guided tour with many points of interest. Entrance is three-quarters of a mile east of Santa’s Village, off Highway 18. Learn about natural history, fire ecology, and forest wildflowers on this short, informative trail. The site was constructed from 1923 to 1931 by the Lake Arrowhead Women’s Club and is maintained by volunteers from the Rim of the World Interpretive Association. The area has gone through a couple of rough patches due to fire and disrepair, but none of that is evident today. Start at the kiosk to get an overview of important information on the bark beetle, flowering plants, activities, and a photo exhibit. From there follow the signs and numbered stops marked in the pamphlet.

This interpretive trail is located 1.4 miles east of Skyforest on Highway 18. The trail is an easy walk for all ages that takes you through a self-guided tour with 24 points of interest about native plants and wildlife. The site was constructed and is maintained by volunteers from the Rim of the World Interpretive Association. A donation is requested for those keeping the Arboretum trail guide.


Click here for a larger version of this map

Welcome to the San Bernardino Mountains!
There is no better way to experience the various aspects of Nature than to take a hike. The sounds, smells, and “feel” of the forest become more immediate, personal and meaningful. On this site, you will find information on trail locations, trail difficulty, hiking tips, camping, and wildlife, as well as the hiking schedule for the Mountaintop Hiking Club. The many trails within the Arrowhead Ranger District offer ample choices for all, from beginners to experienced outdoorsmen, with Deep Creek being the highlight of the District. There are over 500 miles of hiking trails in the San Bernardino National Forest. Trails vary in length from 0.25-mile nature trails to a 195-mile section of thePacific Crest National Scenic Trail. Trails vary from easy to difficult with scenery from desert flowers to mountain pines.

Before beginning a hike, take into account your available time, knowledge of the area, necessary equipment, weather conditions, physical situation, and the time of year. Please note that hiking trails may be closed without notice due to storm damage or other reasons. More information can be obtained by contacting the local ranger station:

Arrowhead Ranger District – San Bernardino National Forest
28104 Highway 18 – P.O. Box 7
Skyforest 92385

For more hiking trails go to Lake Arrowhead Village web site.


Lake Arrowhead Village  & Cedar Glen are the places to go Christmas Shopping With over 50 waterfront shops, galleries and restaurants, the Lake Arrowhead Village has it all!


Alexandra’s Emporium ​
Bass Shoe & Clothing
Claire’s Accessories
Coach Leatherware
Factory Brand Shoes
The Fanstop
Jockey International
Lake Arrowhead Trolley Car Co.
Leroy’s Boardshop
Pendleton Woolen Mills
Sondra’s / Tattle Tails
The Studio Boutique / Dancewear & Gifts
Van Heusen Direct
D Gallery​
Just Browsing Mill Creek Gallery
Mountain Arts Network
The Wishing Well

Angels In Waiting​
Lake Arrowhead Pilates Center
Lux Nails & Spa
Miracle Touch Spa
Pharmacy of the Woods
Rumors – The Artistry of Hair
Ultimate Skin
Heart’s Desire – Christian Books
Jockey International​
Mr. G’s for Toys
Tattle Tails

Jeanine’s Interior

Claire’s Accessories​
Craig D. Aaron Designs
Jeffrey David Jewelers

Lake Arrowhead Sporting Goods

Three Dog Bakery


The Lake House & Flower Shop

Timberline in the Glen

Cedar Glen Trading & Hardware

Cedar Glen Inn

Cedar Glen Malt Shop

Looking for something to do in the Mountains? Come visit SkyPark at Santa’s Village – Shopping, Skate Park, Bike Park, Rock climbing wall, Bake Shop, Restaurant and much more.

Thurs.-Friday – rides open at 12pm | Sat.-Sunday – rides open at 10am
Amazing history
Santa’s Village was opened just six weeks before Disneyland on Memorial Day weekend in 1955.
Click here to read more about the history of Santa’s Village.

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