Big Bear

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The Mountain’s of Big Bear

Two hours’ drive from LA and San Diego, Southern Californian families flock to Big Bear every weekend, when it’s quite normal for tickets to sell out (book in advance on the website if you feel like braving the crowds). And so influential is the surf/skate/snow triptych over young SoCal minds that the powers that be decided to pass on the pistes and turn all of Bear Mountain into a terrain park leaving Snow Summit as a refuge for beginners, recreational skiers, and park novices. It hasn’t hurt their ticket sales one little bit.

Big Bear has 438  Acres of ski-able terrain or 27 km of slopes

1 Funicular Train, No Cable cars or gondolas

6 Chair & 4 Drag Lifts

1 Park & No Pipes

Night Opening & no summer skiing/boarding

Beginners

Though both mountains have large beginner areas and a wide range of lessons to choose from, slightly more sedate Summit is a less intimidating place to find your feet. For those who are happily linking turns on cruisers like Mainstream and Eastway, scoot over to the Family Park, where mellow bumps and rollers serve as an introduction to airtime.

19 Easy Runs

25% Blues

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Intermediate

Start the day at Summit, warming up on the cruisers before tacking the beginner to intermediate jib and table lines in Westridge, the mile-long, top-to-bottom park that first brought Big Bear fame. In the afternoon, take the bus over to Bear Mountain and start working your way up their menu of obstacles.

39 Intermediate Runs

50% Reds

You get to ski/ride at two separate mountains for the price of one and the sun is always shining. The park is always groomed and there are jibs for everybody. Come during the week as it’s always slower. On the weekend the LA crowds come up which can be fun for people watching. You never know who you’re going to meet!

Advanced

Hit Bear Mountain mid-morning, no need for an early start when the entire mountain is a park. After shutting down the superpipe, exhibitionists can work The Scene in the afternoon, a collection of jibs right by the base area. Come nightfall and it’s time to head over to Summit, where the Westridge hits are groomed every Friday,Saturday and holiday afternoons in time for a session under lights.

19 Expert Black Runs

25% Blacks

Freestyle

Known as The People’s Park, Bear Mountain is hugely popular with freestyle fans. 1-Superpipe 1-Halfpipe 1-Beginner pipe Freestyle Park Southern California’s only Superpipe, over 120 jumps, more than 80 jibs, one standard halfpipe, and plenty of exclusive designs. The Parks motto is “other resorts claim it, we build it”. Skill Builder Park Special intro level park includes features designed to make you better on your board and gain the confidence you needed to take on the rest of the bigger features. Red Bull Plaza Downtown meets the mountains, revamped for the 2013/14 season the Plaza is an urban oasis of billboard wall rides, dumpster hits,32 foot long stairs, close-out rails and a multi-use objects in a city center setting.New this year is the  Hot Dawgz and Hand Rails features.

Download large Big Bear Trail Map

Big Bear Trail Map
Download large Big Bear Trail Map

Mountain Stats

Top Lift 2685 m
Vertical Drop 507 m
Bottom Lift 2177 m
  • No Funicular Trains
  • No Cable Cars
  • No Gondolas
  • 9 Chair Lifts
  • Whoo who no drag lifts
  • 1 Park
  • 3 Pipes
  • No t open in summer
  • Yes , opens at night

748 Acres.

19Easy Slopes

25%

39 Intermediate Slopes

51%

Essential Info

Opening Mid November
Closing Mid May
1 Day Pass US $ 71
3 Day Pass US $ 161
Season Pass (Cali4nia Pass)* US $ 1,049
Tourist Office bigbearinfo.com
Website bearmountain.com

*covers Big Bear Mountain, Mammoth, June Mountain & Snow Summit

Getting There

Los Angeles(LAX) Airport is the resorts nearest at 185 Km or 116 miles away.

The Town

Clusters of wooden cabins, tumbledown motels, diners and weekend homes sprawl along the south shore of Big Bear Lake, a year-round country retreat for harassed southern Californians for over a century. Yet despite the weekend crowds, the place feels sleepy and suburban once the last of the SUVs has departed down valley, more an annex of LA than a stand-alone resort. 

Sleeping

Try elegant B&B at the historic Gold Mountain Manor.

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Eating

Bypass the strip mall fast food and hit up El Jacalito for super cheap, authentic burritos and tacos. Fill upon a breakfast of champions at the Grizzly Manor Café and splurge at Sushi lchiban. Good veggie options are available everywhere.

Apres Ski & Nightlife

Sunny afternoon partying goes down at the base of both resorts both weekends, but those left in town after sundown may find it a little dead. Chad’s Place has pool and weekly live bands.

Pro’s & Con’s

Pro’s Con’s
Jibs and hits in all sizes: progress your park riding. Lack of natural snow and natural
Perfect slopes for beginners. Low on resort ambience.
Inexpensive and quiet midweek. Seriously crowded at the weekend.

Twin peaks above Los Angeles with over 200 jumps and jibs between them, for riding day and night. Molehills in size but mighty in stature, so long as you like parks.

Shopping

At the eastern end of Big Bear Boulevard is a large Vons supermarket handily located close to the Real Deal Ride Shop.

Health & Wellbeing

There’s a full range of spa treatments at the mountain hippy-style Believe In Magic.

Internet Access

Free access at the library on Garstin Drive.

Transfer Options

You can buck the LA trend by taking a Metrolink train out to San Bernardino and picking up the local MARTA bus, it’ll take a few hours and cost around US$15 each way.

Local Partners

Bear Mountain and Snow Summit came under joint ownership in 2002. Though 2 miles apart, both are covered by the same ticket and linked by a frequent free shuttle service.

Children

For children 3 to 6 years of age, Riglet Park, young jibbers-in-training learn to ride miniature terrain park features by using Burton’s innovative Learn-to-Ride Technology. Riglet Park emphasizes learning in a playground-like setting, while introducing new possibilities for younger riders. Children learn balance while riding a custom made snowboard with soft flex boots and bindings over mellow rollers, small berms and ground level features. With the Riglet Reel tow, a certified instructor will pull the child over the variety of mini-features, allowing young riders to experience the excitement of learning to ride on their own. Full-day lesson packages include equipment, shelter and lunch.

Bad Weather Days

Though it can get icy occasionally, all the slopes at Big Bear are flanked by trees, and flat light is seldom an issue. Check out Bear Mountain’s base area jibs first if in doubt.

Avoid

Summit Run, the top to bottom highway at Snow Summit. It’s a minefield of out-of-control weekend warriors and shakily snaking beginners.

An Interesting Little Fact

Justin Timberlake, Shaun White and Tom Cruise all have season passes at Big Bear.

Don’t Miss

Bear’s recognizable signature hits and jibs: keep an eye out for the inanimate stars of countless ads and photo shoots.

Local Tips

Do Don’t
Ski/Ride midweek for cheaper tickets and quiet slopes. Often wear jackets. T-shirts and hoodies are the norm.
Take Highway-38 instead of the I-la route at the weekends, to beat the traffic. Pay attention to trail classification. The so-called black runs here just aren’t.
Ski/Ride free on their birthday: just show the ticket office ID. Drive anywhere in weekend rush hour. The out-of-town traffic is a nightmare.
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Jen is a correspondent for Outside, Ski and Snowboarding magazines and a frequent contributor to the New York Times travel section. Her work has been featured in Best American Travel Writing, Best American Sports Writing and other anthologies. She has reported from seven continents, loves languages, and is based in British Columbia, Canada.

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