It’s a bit off the radar for Northern California residents, but if SoCal calls, consider soaking up a change of scenery at Big Bear Lake in San Bernardino county. Yes, there’s a major ski mountain there, but you and your pup will also find many dog-friendly diversions, including outdoor dining and trails where you can hike, cross-country ski, snowshoe and otherwise play in a winter wonderland.
For easy winter outings, try the trails around the lake, which is sits at a higher elevation than Tahoe (6,743 feet vs. 6,225). Town Trail, Woodland Interpretive Trail and the Alpine Pedal Path are three dog-walking favorites.
While there are lots of venues for dog-friendly snowshoeing, you cant go wrong following Forest Service roads that are closed in winter but marked with blue diamonds. The staff at at Big Bear Discovery Center can fill you in. Don’t have equipment? You can rent snowshoes and X-C skis from Big Bear Bikes or Goldsmith’s Sports and pick up some good suggestions of places to go, as well.
You’ll need a Forest Service Adventure Pass to park in most trailhead lots, including those at the Woodland Trail, cougar crest Trail, Greys Peak Trail and Pineknot Trail. They’re available at the Big Bear Lake Visitor Center or from many vendors in the area; cost is $5 for a day or $30 for a year .
After your exercise, come in from the cold and warm up in a dog-friendly cabin, rental home or hotel room in or near Big Bear Village, then wander into town for takeout or to see and see what’s cooking under the heated outdoor tents that have sprung up all over the state during the COVID-19 Crisis. Among dozens of restaurants with dog-friendly seating are Nottinghams, Peppercorn Grille, Teddy Bear, Jasper’s Smokehouse, Thelma’s Family Restaurant, Saucy Mama’s and Alpine Country Coffee Shop.
Businesses throughout the area will be enforcing coronavirus guidelines in their daily operations, so please plan your dog-friendly activities in advance. Look for updates here.