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Bluff Lake Reserve

There’s a reason that so many fairy tales are set in forests. Find the right spot amongst millions of acres of wooded land, and there’s a feeling of something entrancing in the air, a kind of magic that has the power to capture the imagination and quiet the mind. Bluff Lake Reserve is one of those places. Its calm waters reflect puffy white clouds, towering old-growth trees stand at attention and graceful fern forests are interspersed with pops of color from wildflowers. At the right time of day, when the sun is just climbing into the sky or hanging low on the horizon, shadows yawn against glints of sunlight that illuminate tall reeds and grasses lining the 20 acre lake.

Once a stop on the Bear Valley and Redlands Toll Road in the 1880’s, where weary travelers could elect to take a break from the long bumpy road to Big Bear Lake and stay at the log cabins of Bluff Lake Resort. Anyone visiting today can take-in the pristine landscape and imagine that it has little changed in the 140 years since then. Being an old-growth forest, it may not have changed much for long before even that distant time. Bluff Lake Reserve has been made part of the Old-Growth Forest Network, an organization that protects forests that have remained intact, avoiding destruction from natural forces such as severe weather events, as well as man-made destruction largely in the form of logging.

In 2000, The Wildlands Conservancy group acquired the Bluff Lake area from a camp and made great efforts to restore the delicate ecosystem by draining the lake to rid it of non-native catfish that were having a negative domino effect, stunting the natural biodiversity of the area. When restoration had been completed, an abundance of wildlife returned, most notably damselflies (similar to dragonflies) and Western toads. Once work was completed, the Bluff Lake Reserve was sold to Camp Gilboa in 2011. The Wildlands Conservancy still seemingly has a hand in the preservation of the land, as they list it on their website and in recent years have provided a staff ranger at the site from May through the summer season.

Visit sometime, and you may be struck with a sense of familiarity, especially if you have ever seen the 1961 movie Parent Trap or the 2001 movie, Dr. Doolittle 2 with Eddie Murphy.

Words and images ©Copyright Melissa McCue, All Rights Reserved

For more information, including directions and pictures, visit the links below.


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