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Big Bear Lake

Big Bear Lake

Experience the year-round charms of Southern California’s mountain wonderland

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Just two hours from Los Angeles, the San Bernardino Mountains offer a cool, pine-scented escape. At an altitude of 6,759 feet (2,060 meters), Big Bear Lake is a hub for alpine recreation. Known for its ski resorts in the winter and its seven-mile lake and golfing in the summer, Big Bear serves as a year-round Southern California escape.

As for skiing and boarding, famed Big Bear Mountain Resort (which includes both Snow Summit and Bear Mountain) has 62 runs and 748 acres of skiable terrain; trails range from easy groomers to the challenges of Grizzly Bowl, so everyone can find places to play. Not a skier or snowboarder? The mountain is also home to lift-assisted sledding and tubing runs at Big Bear Snow Play and Grizzly Ridge Tube Park for both daytime and nighttime fun, and there are plenty of off-slope things to do in the winter as well.

When the snow melts, a whole other world of activity opens up. Snow Summit’s Scenic Sky Chair transforms into a mile-long ride to 8,200-foot panoramic views, and biking, hiking, and camping options abound. Whether you’re seeking single-track climbs or flat lakeside paths, .2-mile strolls or rugged 15-mile loops, Big Bear offers a collection of recreational trails for every level—many of which offer incredible views of the lake below.

Surrounded by towering peaks and lined by Ponderosa pine forests, the shimmering Big Bear Lake is a popular playground for motorized- and people-powered watercraft. You can rent equipment of all kinds, including paddleboards, kayaks, or boats for waterskiing or fishing.

Looking for a unique perspective of this alpine town? Fly over mountain lakes and the Mojave Desert on a helicopter tour, get behind the wheel to take on rugged terrain on a Big Bear Jeep Experience, or glide among the treetops on a zipline tour with Action Zipline Tours. You’ll soar as high as 85 feet above the forest floor—the sweeping views of the snowy scenery are unbeatable as you slice through the brisk mountain air. The lake is also home to nesting bald eagles in winter, which you can see on tours offered by Big Bear Discovery Center.

If you’re looking to anchor your trip to a specific occasion, there’s no shortage of events throughout the year, ranging from fishing tournaments and fireworks to the annual Big Bear Lake Oktoberfest, where you can test your strength at the stein-holding competition and sample German food throughout consecutive weekends every fall.

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