Big Bear Lake in San Bernardino County is an under-the-radar destination for Northern Californians, but in SoCal, it’s been a dear-to-the heart, dog-friendly summer vacation magnet for more than a century. Perched at a slightly higher elevation than Lake Tahoe (6,743 feet vs. 6,225), it’s a purely snow-fed reservoir with clear water and lots of recreation options.
Put paws to pillow at a dog-friendly property like Big Bear Lakefront Lodge, Holiday Inn Resort at Big Bear, Big Bear Frontier cabins, a pet-friendly vacation rental from Gold Rush Resort Rentals or Cabins 4 Less. Then, stoke up on supplies and maybe grab a bite to eat (among dozens of restaurants with dog-friendly seating are Nottinghams, Peppercorn Grille, Teddy Bear, Jasper’s Smokehouse, Thelma’s Family Restaurant, Saucy Mama’s, Big Bear Mountain Brewery and Alpine Country Coffee Shop) in the town of Big Bear. Then, lace up your hiking boots, leash up the pup and you’re ready to hit the water or the dog-friendly trails, of which there are many.
You’ll find several dog-friendly beaches along Highway 38, all of which can be accessed from the Alpine Pedal Path, a mostly paved, 3.2-mile multi-use trail with great lake views. If you prefer to actually get out on the water, you can take your four-legged friend aboard a rental from Big Bear Marina, Holloway’s, Pine Knot Landing, Pleasure Point and Captain John’s.
Time to put paws to path? (Before you go, check whether you’ll need a Forest Adventure Pass, $5 daily, $30 annual, to park at trailheads in surrounding national forests.) The Castle Rock Trail, just short of two miles long but with a stiff, 500-foot elevation gain, leads to Big Bear’s most panoramic viewpoint. The Grand View Point and Gray’s Peak trails are other popular options.
Photo Credit: @colterandkenai