15 Best Things to Do in Forest Falls, CA

Forest Falls, CA
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Forest Falls is an unincorporated community in southwestern San Bernardino County, California.

In the 1850s, Mormon pioneers settled the area and built a sawmill.

Forest Falls is on the cradle of California’s San Bernardino Mountains which rise to 5,000 feet and 6,000 feet above sea level.

The community is also along the steep flanks of a tributary of the Santa Ana River, Mill Creek.

The great outdoors in and around bring Forest Falls many visitors who can enjoy the waterfalls on the nearby creeks.

Forest Falls is also a gateway for outdoor recreation in the San Bernardino National Forest.

The San Bernardino Wilderness Area, in particular, spreads directly north of Forest Falls.

The community has drawn leisure-seeking visitors since 1897 with the establishment of its Forest Home Resort.

Back then, a stagecoach visitors via ferry to Forest Falls; these visitors also came via train west from Redlands.

The natural attractions in this side of California, then as now, offer these best things to do in Forest Falls, California.

Book a Family Camping at Forest Home

Scenic view of Forest Home
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Located on Valley of the Falls Drive, Forest Home is a religious destination for camping and retreats.

One of the offerings at Forest Home is a family camping experience with some religious twist.

A family booked for camping in Forest Home will have its accommodation in a classic cabin.

The lake of Forest Home
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The family members will access fun facilities, including miniature golf, a giant swing, a zip line, an aquatic center with gigantic waterslides, and a ropes course.

They will also enjoy musical presentations and water activities at Forest Home’s lake.

A shake shack and a coffee shop serve all guests at Forest Home.

Have a Picnic at the Falls Picnic Area

The Falls Picnic Area, located on Falls Road, is one of the popular destinations on a trip to Forest Falls.

This picnic ground is within a pine/cedar forest and is 0pen for day use only from dawn to dusk.

The Falls Picnic Area provides tables, water, and vault toilets.

Picnickers need a California Campfire Permit to bring propane or gas barbecue stoves.

They also have to observe a leave-no-trace policy regarding garbage that they must pack out.

Black bears frequent the Falls Picnic Area, so visitors must not leave their food or garbage unattended.

Entry to the area requires an Adventure Pass.

The kiosk entrance gate opens during the daytime for parking above the trailhead.

If it closes in the early hours of the morning, you must park in the lower overflow lot.

Climb Mt. San Gorgonio via the Vivian Creek Trail

This mountain rises 11,499 feet above sea level and is accessible via the Vivian Creek Trail on Falls Road.

This trail is the shortest but steepest route to the peak of Mt. San Gorgonio.

Located in the eponymous wilderness area, this mountain is open to camping, including at its peak.

Hikers ascending Mt. San Gorgonio have access to three designated campsites along the Vivian Creek Trail.

One is at the Vivian Creek Camp at 7,100 feet, where camping is allowed 200 yards away from the creek or the trail.

Climbers can stop at the Halfway Camp at 8,100 feet or proceed to the High Creek Camp at 9,200 feet.

Campers hiking on the Vivian Creek Trail can draw water from the nearby creeks.

This trail's upper sections and campsites provide fascinating views of Galena Peak and Yucaipa Ridge.

Likewise, you can enjoy sweeping panoramic views at the summit of Mt. San Gorgonio.

Hike to the Big Falls Overlook

A trail hike of a mile or two will take visitors to Big Falls Overlook, a trademark of Forest Falls attractions.

The trailhead of the Big Falls Trail is accessible from Highway 38, then east on Valley of the Falls Road onward to the Falls Picnic Area.

The hike to the falls starts from the parking lot here and shortly winds up at the waterfall overlook, providing an excellent view of the cascading waters.

The drop from the highest part of the falls is about 150 to 200 feet, with many smaller waterfalls below the two main cataracts.

Authorities have closed the trail to the waterfalls’ top and bottom because of previous mishaps and rescues along the slippery path.

Spend the day at Big Falls Overlook!

Catch an Event at the Gail D. Cox Community Center

Originally built in 1926, the lodge was restored and reopened in 2007 to become the Gail D. Cox Community Center.

Since then, the nonprofit center has become a regular venue for significant events, not only for Forest Falls.

The communities of nearby Mountain Home Village and Angelus Oaks also hold special events at Big Falls Lodge.

One regular event every Tuesday night is “Music Night at Forest Falls,” featuring local musicians of all levels and styles.

The Frozen Green Thumb Garden Club also gathers its members here every third Monday of the month for a plant sale extravaganza.

Around the end of October, the Gail D. Cox Community Center comes alive with a Harvest Festival featuring contests, a bake sale, and food from noon to afternoon.

Enjoy Nature at Bearpaw Reserve

Wildlands Conservancy, a private, nonprofit public benefit corporation in California, owns and manages this property.

Wildlands has developed in Bearpaw Reserve a site for family camping and environmental programs.

The Reserve sprawls over 600 acres featuring steep and rugged mountain slopes where urban families can learn the fundamentals of camping.

Campers in the Bearpaw Reserve will experience a stay amid canopies of colter and ponderosa pine, incense cedars, rare oracle oaks, and chaparral.

A 110-foot waterfall is also a seasonal feature of the Reserve, accessible from Valley of the Falls Drive.

The Bearpaw Reserve is a habitat for diverse wildlife, including flying squirrels and southern spotted owls.

Spot Big Horns at Galena Peak Wilderness Reserve

Also owned and operated by the Wildlands Conservancy, the Galena Peak Wilderness Reserve adjoins the San Gorgonio Wilderness.

The Reserve encompasses the the1,280-acre rocky ramparts of the Galena Ridge.

Its Galena Peak rises to 9,324 feet above sea level, considered Southern California’s tallest privately owned peak.

Bighorn sheep inhabit the granite crags of the Reserve as their lambing ground.

No established trails lead to the Reserve; thus, its visitors must be good at cross-country hiking.

The Falls Picnic Area is the closest access point to Galena Peak, and visitors can reach it via a three-mile hike via Mill Creek Canyon in the east.

The lush vegetation of the Galena Peak Wilderness Reserve helps safeguard the quality of Mill Creek’s waters.

Besides, bighorn sheep, deer, bears, and mountain lions also enjoy the sanctuary of the Galena Peak Wilderness Reserve.

Dine at El Mexicano

This restaurant, located on Valley of the Falls Drive, is the only restaurant in Forest Falls.

Patricia and Glenn Burbano own and manage El Mexicano, which nestles amidst pine tree canopies.

This friendly restaurant draws repeat customers with its authentic Mexican dishes served in plentiful portions and at affordable prices.

The restaurant’s specialties include meat and bean burrito, Machaca, tender shredded beef with egg mix, and seasoning of tomatoes, onions, and bell peppers.

El Mexicano also serves wines and beer by pitcher or bottle.

Other Things to Do Nearby

Explore the San Bernardino National Forest

Bonita falls at San Bernardino National Forest
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A slew of recreational activities await visitors of the San Bernardino National Forest, spreading over 800,000 acres of pristine woodlands, deserts, and mountain peaks.

One central access point to this outdoor destination is via the census-designated place of Oak Glen, about 16 miles south of Forest Falls.

You can enjoy varying outdoor activities at this National Forest each season, with snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, downhill skiing, snowboarding, and snowmobile riding ideal during winter.

During fall, summer, and spring, you can enjoy hiking on the various trails of the San Bernardino National Forest.

The scenery is spectacular, particularly at the higher elevations of this National Forest during those times of the year.

Aerial view of San Bernardino National Forest during winter
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There are many camping grounds here; dispersed camping is also allowed in certain areas.

Without much effort, you can go horse riding to enjoy a visit to this National Forest in spring and summer.

You can also drive along the Palms to Pines Scenic Byways or the World Scenic Byway traversing parts of the San Bernardino National Forest.

This national forest is in Big Bear, California, 53 minutes from Forest Falls.

A stream at San Bernardino National Forest
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Shop for Jams and Jellies at Moms Country Orchards

A short drive of about 15 miles southwest of Forest Falls will take you to the Moms Country Orchards in Yucaipa, 21 minutes from Forest Falls.

Two moms, Alison Law-Mathisen and Yvette Birdsall, started this shop in 2002, and its wares have grown popular.

The offerings at Moms Country Orchards include pesticide-free apples, honey, jellies, jams, and preserves.

It is also an excellent source of other seasonal fruits and vegetables.

Except for Christmas Day, Moms Country Orchards is open all year round.

Have Fun at Oak Tree Mountain

Welcome sign of Oak Tree Mountain
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Starting as a small apple shed in 1962, Oak Tree Mountain has grown into an amusement park featuring the largest all-weather, year-round mountain tubing slide in the U.S.

This family destination is on Oak Glen Road in the census-designated place of Oak Glen, about 16 miles south of Forest Falls.

The other attractions in this theme park include a reptile museum and a petting zoo.

Shops at Oak Tree Mountain
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Oak Tree Mountain is also the place to enjoy pony rides and pig races within its 14-acre grounds a mile high up in Oak Glen, California, 22 minutes from Forest Falls.

Visitors of the amusement park can likewise relish homemade apple cider and apple pies at the vintage shops here.

Bakery at Oak Tree Mountain
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Visit El Dorado Ranch Park

This park is located on Oak Glen Road in Yucaipa, 18 minutes from Forest Falls.

Established in 2014, El Dorado Ranch Park features several multi-purpose trails, picnic tables, and restrooms.

The park’s elevated location allows visitors to see gorgeous sights of California’s Inland Empire region encompassing the cities of San Bernardino and Riverside.

Hiking along the park’s trails opens the opportunity for wildlife observation.

Hikers need to take their strolls early in the day during summer to avoid the heat wave and the rattlesnakes inhabiting the El Dorado Ranch Park.

Try the Cider of Snow-Line Orchard

Cider mill at Snow-Line Orchard
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This orchard is a friendly, family-owned farm, winery, and cidery located on Oak Glen Road, Yucaipa, California, 25 minutes from Forest Falls.

Forest Falls’ visitors can easily extend their trip to Snow-Line Orchard, as it is only some 16 miles southwest of Forest Falls.

This orchard is the place to go for cider and wine tasting and picking raspberries.

Show-Line Orchard provides a scenic picnic grove with an endearing Italian chestnut tree reputed as the oldest in the area.

The orchard also offers mini coffee, cider donuts, local honey, artisan oils, and other unique gift items.

Shop at White Llama Gift & Curio Shop

The White Llama Gift & Curio Shop, located on Oak Glen Road in Yucaipa, specializes in unique wares from South America’s Andes.

Established by a native Peruvian, this shop sells an astonishing variety of Alpaca apparel like capes, ponchos, scarves, and hats.

Prized finds include backpacks, bags, and purses with vintage weavings.

The designs of items sold in this shop primarily reflect the influence of the Incan empire.

You can also see this classic style in the child-friendly toys on the shelves.

This shop is in Yucaipa, 23 minutes from Forest Falls.

Experience Parrish Pioneer Ranch

Building at Parrish Pioneer Ranch
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The Parrish family established this historic ranch around the late 1860s, starting as an apple orchard.

This ranch's all-timber family home was once used as the schoolhouse of Oak Glen, 21 minutes from Forest Falls.

It was later converted into an antique shop and remained the oldest all-timber house in San Bernardino County.

Signage of Parrish Pioneer Ranch
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Other shops have also been built on the ranch, including those selling apple butter, cider, jams, syrups, and jellies.

Visitors of the Parrish Pioneer Ranch can dine in Angus McCurdy’s restaurant, repurposed from the ranch’s original barn.

Shops at Parrish Pioneer Ranch
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Final Thoughts

The great outdoors brings visitors to Forest Falls.

The destinations here perfectly meld with those in its neighboring communities, all in all weaving a combo of exciting things to do in Forest Falls.

Plan your trip today and discover the best things to do in Forest Falls, California!

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