|Kilometers are shorter than miles. Save gas, take your next trip in kilometers ~George Carlin|
I’ve always heard people speak of Lake Arrowhead and Big Bear as a playground for the Los Angeles outdoor set. In all our time here we had never taken the opportunity to explore these iconic mountaintop resort areas. When I did my trip research I found out that the area had been home to the Serrano Indians over 2000 years ago and that Ben Wilson of Mt Wilson fame had found his way here in the 1840's. I realized that we were living within a couple of hours of both resorts. When Californians tell you that on any given day they can ski in the morning and surf in evening they are not exaggerating. Within a three hour period one can descend from Snow Valley resort and arrive at Santa Monica pier to play in the waves and sip a fruity cocktail on the beach.
We decided to take a day trip up to Lake Arrowhead and Big Bear to see these legendary California landmarks for ourselves. Just off the 210 freeway near Fontana we turned north and headed up the I30 highway. As we climbed up through the San Bernardino Forest we were treated to fantastic far reaching views. The haze muted the colors of the mountains making them seem ethereal and almost magical. The winding road continued and finally we were led to the turnoff for Lake Arrowhead village.
The parking area was surrounded by shops and looked a bit like the typical ski villages that spring up in resort towns to service the après ski crowd. Just beyond the shops we found the lake. It appeared before us, a real life 1950’s post card extolling the joys of a summer on the lake.
We were surprised to learn that this lake is privately owned and for use by residents only.We walked along the lakeside enjoying the ducks and geese who, apparently had not read the rules and have made Lake Arrowhead their home. We spent about an hour exploring before we continued on to Big Bear Lake.
As we entered Big Bear we were greeted by a beautiful blue lake. We parked and took a moment to soak in the peace and tranquility of our surroundings. The lake is well used and bustling with activity.We chatted with a couple ready to take off on a kayak trip. They had been enjoying Big Bear for decades and gave us insights on the area and shared a few restaurant tips with us. The town is fairly simple to navigate, as it hugs the lake. There is a town center filled with tourist shops, restaurants and lodging options. It's possible to rent all manner of water sport equipment on site, making a getaway to the lake very easy to plan.
We stopped for lunch at a local brew pub where both the beer and the food were just below average. Usually brew pubs have great food so we were a bit disappointed.The rather lackluster meal was followed by a wonderful surprise. We came upon a local craft fair right along the lakeside and I spent some time browsing and meeting the artists, finally deciding on a blown glass oil lamp as a souvenir of our day in the mountains.
So often we feel that every trip must involve copious lists, over packing and endless details. It’s nice to know that a beautiful road trip can simply involve jumping in the car with very little and making wonderful memories right in your own back yard.