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 famed Snow Summit and Bear Mountain resorts in the winter and its seven-mile lake in the summer, Big Bear serves as a year-round Southern California escape.
When the snow melts, Snow Summit’s Scenic Sky Chair transforms into a mile-long ride to 8,200-foot panoramic views and trails for mountain bikers and hikers. Whether you’re seeking single-track climbs or flat lakeside paths, 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 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? Glide among the treetops on a zipline tour, fly over mountain lakes and the Mojave Desert on a helicopter tour, or get behind the wheel to take on rugged terrain on a Big Bear Jeep Experience. 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.