By Greg Aragon
Summer is upon us and for me that means it’s time to plan a getaway to Big Bear Lake. The place is a summer paradise. From hiking, mountain biking and rope climbing in the forest, to relaxing on the lake or in a charming, rustic cabin, the alpine area has got it all.
Last summer a friend and I escaped to the 7,000-foot-high city for a day and night of adventure and discovery. Our getaway began at Creek Runners Lodge, where we checked into a romantic cabin with a full kitchen, a tub and shower, a comfy king bed and a huge, inviting Jacuzzi in the middle of the room. Located across from the lake and a 10 minute walk to downtown, the lodge is a great place to stay while exploring the area. And did I mention the cabin had a big Jacuzzi in the living room?
After unpacking and testing the spa tub, we took the Scenic Sky Chair at Snow Summit to the top of Big Bear Mountain Resort. This breathtaking, mile-long journey takes guests on ski lift chairs up to an 8,200-foot oasis of hiking and mountain biking trails, while offering incredible aerial views of the San Bernardino National Forest and Big Bear Lake. At the top of the mountain, we enjoyed a homemade BBQ lunch of Alaskan salmon, an Angus hamburger, and a salad, while sitting outside on the deck at View Haus restaurant.
Snow Summit has become world-famous for its mountain biking and Big Bear’s network of more than 100 miles of trails has been ridden by both professional riders and recreational weekend warriors who come for all levels of fun. Mountain bike enthusiasts appreciate the great selection of single track trails. Cross country bikers also love the trails.
Snow Summit’s Bike Park boasts more than 60 miles of trails, with the longest trail being 2.5 miles. The park is a great place for beginners, as 50 percent of its network is designed for newbies.
Besides mountain biking the area also offers great hiking, which we experienced by trekking the Skyline Trail, which opened a few years ago. Boasting awesome views of Mt. San Gorgonio and Big Bear Lake, this moderately difficult hike passes through pine and oak forests filled with wild life and rare plants.
After hiking we took the Scenic Sky Chair down the mountain and headed back to Creek Runners Lodge to rest before having dinner at The Himalayan. Featuring authentic Indian and Nepalese food, the restaurant boasts delicious dishes such as Chicken Vindaloo in a tasty Himalayan-styled sauce with tomatoes, potatoes, onions, garlic, ginger, and lime juice; and lamb curry in a succulent garlic, onion and ginger sauce.
Back at the lodge we soaked in our in-room Jacuzzi and sipped champagne. In the morning we found the curious kid inside of ourselves and climbed a tree with Action Tours. This unique outdoor adventure gives visitors a chance to be a monkey and scale trees in a pine forest.
Designed for kids of all ages over 12, the tour begins with an orientation led by a certified tour guide who explains safety, the proper way to climb, and how to use the provided climbing gear. The thrilling, three-hour adventure allows guest to make at least four exciting “climbs” to a height of 45 feet. In addition to climbing trees, guests also learn about tree biology and conservation. The Tree Rope Climbing experience is $99 per person for a three-hour tour but per a spokesperson for Visit Big Bear, Action Tours is not currently having the rope climbing tours.
Our next adventure was on the lake. Thanks to Big Bear Marina, we rented a couple kayaks and paddled across the water for a couple hours, exploring the beautiful coastline hidden coves, and admiring some great waterfront lodges.
With more than 300 days of sunshine, 100s of miles of forest trails, 22 miles of shoreline and two ski resorts with nearly 1,000 skiable acres, Big Bear Lake offers plenty of outdoor fun all year long. For more information on visiting Big Bear Lake, Snow Summit, and on staying at Creek Runners Lodge, visit: bigbear.com or call (800) 424-4232.