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The Byways of Big Bear California

The Classic and the Unexpected

Kevin BlumerPhotographer, Writer

Big Bear, California, can't lay claim to having the most scenic trails in existence. That honor is beset by the likes of the San Juan Mountains in Colorado. Big Bear can't say its trails are the toughest around, either. That honor is owned by routes such as the Hammer trails in nearby Johnson Valley.

All the same, there's still plenty of natural beauty to take in, and there are many, many miles of trails waiting to be explored. One of Big Bear's most significant features is simply its proximity to SoCal urban sprawl. Big Bear is an escape, a valuable swath of natural open space — and just a two-hour drive from the congested freeways of Los Angeles.

Last summer, two Big Bear opportunities presented themselves. One adventure plied classic Big Bear trails: high altitude, pine trees, and a smattering of rocks. The other was unexpected: a traverse from the desert up into a dense Joshua tree forest, and then down to the dusty movie sets of Pioneertown. Each was worth the time and gasoline required, and worth making plans to re-visit in the future.

Whether it's classic or unexpected, Big Bear byways are sure to please.

The Classic

The Unexpected