Big Bear Lake, California
If you live in Los Angeles, where do you go to play in the snow? You can drive several hours north to one of the ski areas around Yosemite National Park such as Mammoth Mountain. But it’s easier to head 100 miles east to the area around Big Bear Lake.
After taking I-10 out of the city and then Route 18 northeast into the San Bernardino National Forest, a welcome sign warning “Chains required, even on 4WD vehicles” gets your attention. The ensuing 30-mile drive into the mountains proves awesome with its winding roads and breathtaking scenery. Once you arrive at the top, you can pull over to a vista and see the Los Angeles valley below spread all the way to the Pacific.
They get big dumps of snow here, but temperatures are moderate, so winter conditions are feast or famine. Near the town of Running Springs, the Rim Nordic Center lies across the road from Snow Valley Ski Area. Owners Bev and Kerry Brown welcome cross-country skiers and snowshoers alike on trails made for both with plenty of areas for skishoers to venture off trail.
Nearby Green Valley Lake features a handful of trails that extend for miles, one even going all the way to the Fawnskin area of Big Bear Lake. This is the site of a former cross-country ski area. And more trails await just south of the lake near Snow Summit and Bear Mountain ski areas. Come ready to take photos, as the scenery in this entire area’ll amaze you.