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Exploring Big Bear

Pacific Crest Trail

There’s a side to Big Bear that most people never get to see. It’s the amazing back country that surrounds our mountain valley. Some of the most beautiful places in Big Bear are just a few miles off the beaten path. Here are a few tips for first time back country explorers.

Most of the fire roads that lead into the San Bernardino National Forest are easily traveled by standard two wheel drive vehicles. Be sure to pack a couple of blankets, plenty of water, and some food, just in case you break down or get lost. It’s a good idea to stay on the main roads during your first few explorations. Even though there’s cell phone service in most areas, be sure to tell someone where you are going and when you plan on returning. Better safe than sorry when you’re in the wild.

A great place to begin your adventure is at the Discovery Center, located on the North Shore Drive. You can purchase an Adventure Pass (required for parking in the national forest) and maps to help you explore. There are hundreds of miles of trails and fire roads throughout the San Bernardino Mountains including several picnic areas and campgrounds.

For first time explorers I recommend taking fire road 2N10 that runs along the south rim of Big Bear Valley from the top of Clubview Drive in the Moonridge area, across the ridge behind Snow Summit to Mill Creek Road, east of the Big Bear Lake City Hall. There’s a beautiful meadow at the Champion Lodgepole Pine that shouldn’t be missed. Be sure to bring a camera because some of the vistas are beyond description.

Exploring the back country is like taking a trip back in time. It’s easy to imagine what the original visitors experienced when they first discovered Big Bear; pristine forest, lush meadows, and not another soul in sight.

More Big Bear;

Sugarloaf Mountain

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