One Day Getaway: Big Bear Lake

In mid-November, Zack and I drove up to Big Bear for the day to celebrate our 14 year “dativersary.” (Because if 2020 has taught me one thing – it’s to celebrate the big things, little things, and people I love the most.) Unlike our previous couple of day trips – this one is VERY doable for one day, BUT would be excellent for a longer stay.

We have actually been to Big Bear before – about a year and a half ago in the spring of 2019 for a friend’s birthday weekend. The plan was to stay at a cabin on the lake and go swimming, hiking, etc. Well it ended up snowing…IN MAY! So we stayed cozied up inside all weekend, but it was actually so much fun. Especially since we don’t get snow in LA.

This time, the plan was to actually see more of what Big Bear had to offer. Sharing our itinerary below, but first, a few tips:

  • Check the weather and pack accordingly. It was supposed to be in the 50s and sunny for our visit…which is FREEZING for us. We packed and dressed in layers just to be safe.
  • Pack extra shoes (and maybe clothes) depending on what you have planned. We knew we wanted to hike, but didn’t necessarily want to wear hiking clothes all day.
  • Pack the usual road trip essentials: snacks, water, sunscreen, etc.
  • Lastly, I saw some mixed info on whether it’s needed or not, but consider purchasing an Adventure Pass if you plan to do any hiking. A day pass is only $5 and you can purchase it at various locations.

Now onto our itinerary:

8:00am Head out!

10:00am Castle Rock Trail // Our first stop of the day was hiking the Castle Rock Trail. It’s a 2.5 mile out and back, steep trail with views over the lake. If you are driving in from LA, there is a SMALL parking area just past the trailhead on the opposite side of the road, or you can park on the street. Now, remember how I said it snowed the last time we visited Big Bear? Well it didn’t snow while we were there, but a recent snow left us with quite a bit of snow on the trail! Thank goodness we packed extra clothes and shoes for after our hike! It was beautiful though.

12:00am Boulder Bay Park // After our hike, we headed a few minutes down the road to Boulder Bay Park. There’s a parking area, small path, and picnic area, but we mostly just came for the view. As the name says – there’s a large cluster of boulders in the lake…and some cool cabins too. It would be a perfect place to picnic on a warmer day – or even kayak or swim. Definitely too cold and windy when we visited but it was a nice spot to stop and soak in the views.

12:30pm Village of Big Bear // We strolled down a few of the streets before grabbing lunch. There were tons of restaurants to choose from, but we grabbed a couple personal pizzas from Saucy Mama’s (decided to get them to go and found a quiet place to “picnic”). Afterwards we picked up coffee/ tea from Frusion.

2:30pm Alpine Pedal Path // This walking/bike path is 3.2 miles one-way. We started at the Stanfield Cutoff and walked along the north shore of the lake to Juniper Point (about 1 mile) before turning back. We stopped several times to take in the scenery…beautiful views of the lake with snow covered mountains as the backdrop.

4:00pm Head home. We continued to drive along the north shore – by the end of the day we had driven around the entire lake – before making our way down the mountain. The winding roads looked magical with the snow, and we saw the most spectacular sunset.

FINAL THOUGHTS // Visiting on a week day…and in offseason…was perfect. It was so quiet and peaceful. The crisp air, the snowy mountains, and of course, the lake – it all made for a really relaxing day. Depending on what time of year you visit, you’ll find a variety of activities from swimming to skiing and everything in between. Plus it’s just a short drive from Los Angeles making it an easy escape.

– Courtney

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