Here's another of our favorites:
It's in the San Bernardino National Forest on the way up to Big Bear. It's off highway 38, a few miles past Barton Flats. Turn on Jenks Rd East. There are several places to disperse camp (14 day limit). It's another one of those places that few know about, so don't except to see too many other campers. There are no services there, and most summers no fires are allowed. They enforce this rule with law enforcement. You can expect a ranger roll up on your camp at least a couple times a week. They'll go up to the already existing fire pit and check to see if the rocks are hot or there are embers. I'm told the fine is astronomical.
Again, there's no potable water in the National Forest area. Some years you can get fill up your tanks at Barton Flats campground (a mile away) for free. We just pull in and talk to the camp host. There is also a dump station there ($10 if you can find the camp host, sometimes they aren't there and there's no one to pay). These last 2 summers we've gone the water was turned off at the campground, so be prepared. We bring our 55 gal barrels just in case. But we live at the bottom of the mountain. You can fill up at our house if you'd like smile emoticon . If not you can fill them up in Big Bear.
There are miles and miles of trails there. Great mnt. biking too. Beware of rattle snakes, they are big and love to lay near the dirt roads. The dirt road is rutty, but I've seen huge Class A's there as well as big 5th wheelers. Some off-shoots of the dirt road are better then others, some have low laying branches too. It's best to park and scout it out on foot or bike. There are secluded spots and large group camping spots. For some reason we always get someone that wants to park right next to us, but 99% of the time they just don't know where else to park, I usually get on my bike and show them around the different off-shoots of the road and my other favorite spots to camp. Everyone that camps there are nice folks from what I've seen. We've only been camping there for about 7 or 8 years though. The nice thing about this spot is as long as you can get to the road it's open year round. We've camped there the week of Thanksgiving and at the end of summer mostly. But we have camped there in the winter as well. Right now there is no snow on that side of the mountain and would be perfect.
There is a little lake further up Jenks road (appropriately called Jenks Lake). At Jenks you can fish and wade in the water, have a picnic lunch. Admission is free if you hike in, a couple bucks if you drive. The fishing is fun, there is a great dock to fish off of. You can also rent a paddle boat or kayak (they wont let you bring your own however). My kids go swimming in the lake, but the locals there will tell you it's not allowed, though there is a swimming beach and no signs that say not to.
On the other side of highway 38 you can hike down to the river. Depending on what month you go will determine how much water will be in the river. There's always a little though.
There's not much else to do there. It's hot in the summer (90's sometimes). You are about 25 miles from Big Bear Lake and town. The town of Big bear is touristy, but there are some great restaurants. There's an old fashion arcade and pizza place that we always go to when we are there. Big Bear is a fun town. The lake is large too, you can swim, boat, kayak, water ski, fish, whatever you want. Camping in the National Forest is a great place to boondock if you want to get away for a week or so.
Just be careful about the fires up there. One spark and that whole mountain will go up in smoke in the summer. They haven't cleared all the dead trees from the Bark Beetles. Like I said the rangers there don't play games either.