For up-to-date info on what outdoor activities are available in the region, call the Big Bear Mountain Resorts Activities hot line at tel. 909/866-5766, or log on to their website at www.bigbearmountainresorts.com.
In addition to the activities described below, there's a great recreation spot for families near the heart of Big Bear Lake: Alpine Slide at Magic Mountain, 800 Wildrose Lane (tel. 909/866-4626; www.alpineslidebigbear.com), has a year-round bobsled-style Alpine Slide, a splashy double water slide open from mid-June to mid-September, and bunny slopes for snow tubing from November to Easter. The dry Alpine Slide is $4 a ride, the water slide is $12 for an unlimited pass, and snow play costs $25 per day, including tube and rope tow.
The Bear Mountain Golf Course, Goldmine Drive, Big Bear Lake (tel. 909/585-8002; www.bigbearmountainresorts.com), is a 9-hole, par-35, links-style course that winds through a gently sloping meadow at the base of the Bear Mountain Ski Resort. The course is open daily April through November. Weekend greens fees are $30 and $47 for 9 and 18 holes, respectively. Both riding carts and pull carts are available. Call ahead for tee times.
Hikers love the San Bernardino National Forest. The gray squirrel is a popular native, so you may see them scurrying around gathering acorns or material for their nests. You can sometimes spot deer, coyotes, and American bald eagles, which come here with their young in winter. The black-crowned Steller's jay and the talkative red, white, and black acorn woodpecker are the most common of the great variety of birds in this pine forest.
The best choice for a short mountain hike is the Woodland Trail, which begins near the ranger station. The best long hike is a section of the Pacific Crest Trail, which travels 39 miles through the mountains above Big Bear and Arrowhead lakes. The most convenient trail head is at Cougar Crest, half a mile west of the Big Bear Ranger Station.
The best place to begin a hike in Lake Arrowhead is at the Arrowhead Ranger Station (tel. 909/382-2782), in the town of Skyforest on Hwy. 18, a quarter-mile east of the Lake Arrowhead turnoff (Hwy. 173). The staff will provide you with maps and information on the best area trails, which range from easy to difficult. The Enchanted Loop Trail, near the town of Blue Jay, is an easy half-hour hike. The Heaps Peak Arboretum Trail winds through a grove of redwoods; the trail head is on the north side of Hwy. 18, at an auxiliary ranger kiosk west of Running Springs.
The area is home to a National Children's Forest, a 20-acre area developed so that children, people in wheelchairs, and the visually impaired can enjoy nature. To get to the Children's Forest from Lake Arrowhead, take Hwy. 330 to Hwy. 18 east, past Deer Lick Station; when you reach a road marked IN96 (open only in summer), turn right and go 3 miles.
Baldwin Lake Stables, southeast of Big Bear City (tel. 909/585-6482; www.baldwinlakestables.com), conducts hourly, lunch break, and sunset rides along a wide variety of terrains and trails -- all with spectacular vistas -- including the Pacific Crest Trail, which includes expansive views of the Mojave Desert. It's open year-round.
Big Bear Lake has become a mountain-biking center, with most of the action around the Snow Summit ski area, where a $15 lift ticket will take you and your bike to a web of trails, fire roads, and meadows at about 8,000 feet. The lake's north shore is also a popular destination; the forest-service ranger stations have maps to the historic Gold Rush-era Holcomb Valley and the 2-mile Alpine Pedal Path (an easy lakeside ride).
Bear Valley Bikes, 40298 Big Bear Blvd. (tel. 909/866-8000), rents quality mountain bikes for about $10 an hour or $40 a day. At Lake Arrowhead, bikes are permitted on all hiking trails and back roads except the Pacific Crest Trail. See the local ranger station for an area map. Visitors can rent gear from the Lake Arrowhead Resort (tel. 909/336-1511) or Above and Beyond Sports (tel. 909/867-5517), 32877 Hwy. 18, Running Springs.
From a base elevation of 6,800 feet, Snow Valley's 13 chairlifts (including 5 triples) can take you from the beginner runs all the way up to black-diamond challenges at the 7,898-foot peak. Children's programs, night skiing, and lesson packages are also available.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.