Wend Your Way to Magical Bluff Lake

The spectacular San Bernardino Mountains copse is a new member of the ancient-awesome Old-Growth Forest Network.

TOSSING AROUND THE WORD "COPSE"? Or woodlands or forest or ancient trees or weald or timberland? If you live in the forever-bustling big city, or even a medium or small-ish town, you don't always get to truck out the sort of terms that might appear in a Tolkien novel. But such beauty does exist, in an otherworldly, centuries-gone-by form, and you don't have to drive too far to find it. In California, if you wanted to find a copse of considerable age or a thicket that's been through thick or thin, you only need go to the redwoods, or the Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Park, or perhaps to the Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest, if you're visiting the Eastern Sierra. You'll spy some truly titanic and/or venerable trees, for sure, and for sure that is an experience to be sought after in a world that doesn't always value permanence. There's another place, though, to go, in the San Bernardino Mountains, and it is a newer member of the Old-Growth Forest Network, too. It's...

BLUFF LAKE RESERVE... we speak of, a pine-pretty spot that's a two-hour drive from Los Angeles. There's much to note about the magnificent area, but that the "majestic forest of lodgepole pine, Jeffrey pine, and white fir... has thrived for more than 450 years." One notable tree to pay homage to, while hiking around Bluff Lake Reserve? The Champion Lodgepole Pine, which boasts a circumference of 121 feet and is considered to be "one of the biggest in the world." The trees are at a higher elevation — think 7,600 feet — and just a short spin from Big Bear Lake. Other ethereal features of this treeful spread? An alpine meadow that sees its share of glorious wildflowers, and a 20-acre lake, too. Call it a different way to do fall, where foliage isn't the first thing to see out but age, grandeur, size, and spirit do reign. Need more Bluff-tastic beauty in your world? Start here, ancient arbor aficionados.

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