Tag Archives: Snow Summit

Casual Cycling at Big Bear Lake, CA

By Richard Fox Updated September 2020

Big Bear Lake sits about 7,000 feet above the urban valley floor in the spectacular San Bernardino Mountains of Southern California. Long known as a year round recreation playground with winter ski resorts and summer lake activities, cycling has mostly been of the hard-core variety, with little to offer to the more casual cyclist… until now.

The long-established Alpine Pedal Path runs ~2.4 miles along the northeast shore of Big Bear Lake, connecting campgrounds to the Stanfield Cutoff that leads to town.  It’s not flat, but is easy enough, with plenty of gorgeous lake views and forest scenery. On warm days the pines emit a delightful aroma, and summer wildflowers can abound.  A beautiful but hilly 1-mile spur leads through the pretty forest to the Discovery Center.  In summer 2017 the main path was widened and re-paved making it much better for bikes and peds to coexist.  Still, weekdays are much preferred in that regard. Meanwhile, the City of Big Bear Lake has developed a system of bike routes through serene residential streets, leading to the quaint Village, the hub of dining and tourist shopping. A bike path runs parallel to Pine Knot Ave.

Projects are underway to make a better connection between Alpine Pedal Path and the rest of the city bike routes. A separated bike path across Stanfield Cutoff will be completed in October 2020, and a path replacing  Big Bear Boulevard’s south sidewalk between the Cutoff and the Sandalwood bike route is expected mid 2021.  Future plans also include a bike path from the Bear Mountain ski area all the way down to the lake along the Rathbun Creek corridor (a small portions is already completed), connecting to the existing bike routes.  Bike lanes have been constructed west of Stanfield Cutoff along westbound  Big Bear Boulevard, with sharrows painted on the road heading eastbound. It’s best to take the alternate bike routes away from that busy roadway though. Several agencies, including the US Forest Service, CALTRANS, Riverside County and the City have been coordinating all of these projects.

The other option for casual cyclists with fat tires is the Sky Chair lift at Snow Summit ski resort that leads to a choice of a fire road or the new Skyline Trail east down the mountain, as well as other options, depending on ability.  

We’ve spent a month RV camping near the lake’s northeast corner every summer since July 2017, and enjoyed near perfect weather (high 70’s – low 80’s, sunny, with an occasional fun monsoon thunderstorm) while the valley below was baking. We rarely needed our truck; we just hopped on our bikes to explore the paths and new routes, which I mapped out for enCYCLEpedia’s 2nd Edition.  

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Re-paved and widened Alpine Pedal Path, north shore.
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Steve relaxing at the west end of the Alpine Pedal Path along the lake. The Solar Observatory in the background at times has offered free tours to small groups weekly in summer.
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Rich pausing along the bike routes on the south shore near town.
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Steve on Pine Knot, the main Village street, with horse and buggy going by.
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The Towne Trail is a fairly hilly forest path, an alternate route to taking the city streets from the Snow Summit lifts west to The Village.  It also serves as a feeder for MTB’ers who descended the west side of the mountain, returning to the lifts.  
Spur trail off the Alpine Pedal Path to the Discovery Center.
Sunset from the Stanfield Cutoff.