Snow has a way of sneaking up on you. It falls so gracefully sometimes, you don't realize how fast it's piling up. In the morning we had 6 inches of beautiful, fluffy powder. I'm sure the ski and snowboard crowd were happy.
If you like horses, be sure to look into horseback riding while you're in Big Bear. Baldwin Lake Stables offers horseback riding year-round. The rides range in length from 1 hour to a 1/2 day trip. There are a number of different trails, many of which have great views of the Big Bear area. Baldwin Lake Stables also has a petting zoo, where children can pet llamas, goats and pigs. There are hand-led pony rides for the little ones as well.
In the village, you can pick up fliers for the stables. They have coupons that will give you $5 off several of the horseback rides Baldwin Lake Stables offers.
Right in the heart of Big Bear Village is a wonderful old arcade, entertaining for adults and children alike. This place is old and the games are too, but if you like vintage games (Ms. Pac Man, Donkey Kong, Galaga) then you'll love this arcade. They also have pinball and skee ball. Collect enough tickets and you can redeem them for stuffed animals and other trinkets. There are some newer games here, including the popular dance machine. If you're in the village, stop in here for a few games!
Skiing is the most popular winter activity in Big Bear. While the slopes here are not as challenging as other California locations (Mammoth has some better trails), this is a great place to learn, to ski with children, to snowboard or just to enjoy a leisurely ski day. You should know that the slopes can get crowded-- you will want to come early or even on a weekday if you want more space.
There are several places to ski in Big Bear. I recommend Snow Summit, a centrally located ski area with runs for skiiers of all skill levels and cozy restaurants and lounges for relaxing. Another great ski location is Bear Mountain. Either one of these places is a great choice if you want to ski in Big Bear.
The Castle Rock hike is my favorite and provides climbers with probably the most beautiful view of Big Bear. The trailhead is located on the highway between Boulder Bay and the Dam. You'll just have to look for the small sign on the right (south) side of the road. Park on the shoulder of the road and start walking!
The hike is about a mile and at times it can be a little steep. You'll want to take along water and stop and take breaks if you get winded. However, this is generally considered to be an easy climb for those of all ages. There is a stream that makes this hike even more beautiful-- look for it as you head up the hill. At the top of the trail you'll see Castle Rock, a large rock formation. Climbing it can be a little tricky, but it's worth the effort. Try going around the back side of the rock to start up. From the top of the rock, you'll have the most amazing view of Big Bear and the lake.
Growing up, I used to go back in the woods with my father to look for gold. Most of the time we dug up dirt from rivers, but occasionally we would go into some of the old mines left over from miners in the 19th century (at least the ones that were deemed stable by the government).
Big Bear is riddled with old mines and decaying log cabins dating back to the late 1800's during the days of the American gold rush. Whole towns used to exist our in the middle of the forest with big mining operations nearby bringing in a steady cash flow. But, as must happen with all civilizations great and small, time took it's toll and the memories, the thoughts of all those who worked and lived, loved and hurt, faded away to nothing more than the dead remains of log cabins, a couple charred fireplaces, a small museum, and a few legends & tall tales of betrayal and deceit...and of hidden stashes of gold buried and never returned for.
The museum is a collection of all the artifacts left over from that era. There are a many photos of the people, the actual objects they used in daily life, and even an intact log cabin that has some of the furniture still in it. A bed, a baby cradle, a kitchen...all roughly hewn from hunks of old wood long ago. It's an interesting place, but never seems to be open. It only opens it's doors to visitors in the summertime, and then only for 5 or so hours a day.
I guess you can take a tour in a western style carriage, for fun or for special occasions! didn't ride it but will next time I go
It was raining the weekend we were there (thunderstorm and all), so we didn't get to really hike with the kids but we drove all around the lake, it's beautiful!
There are campgrounds all round Big Bear Lake. We went camping one summer and it was a lot of fun. Clean air, good food, good friends--can't really beat that!
I came across this lamp post which seemed to be wearing a hat made of icicles. I had to take a snapshot.