The massive storms we have had this winter have made it hard to get out to fish so I decided if you can’t beat them, join them, and I headed up to my cousin’s cabin in Big Bear. Driving through the snow, we arrived to find over a foot of the white stuff. Not long after unloading the car and greeting everyone, my brother-in-law and I wrangled up the kids and headed over to the sled hill. What a blast! After an hour or so of high speed antics we started to head back to the cabin wet, exhausted, and sporting a few new bruises.
Since most people don’t have a family member with a cabin and a sled-ready hill, I have put together a list of places to take your family snow tubing/sledding. So check out these spots and remember to be careful, zooming down a tree and rock covered hill can be dangerous. Also look up local weather and road conditions before you leave. Bring proper fitting chains with you. I also recommend dry clothes to change into for the ride home as you might get soaked. All that being said, everyone will have a great time sledding, building a snowman and starting the inevitable snow ball fight.
Aspen Glen Picnic Area
40105 Mill Creek road
Big Bear Lake CA 92315
Adventure Pass required (available at most sporting goods stores in Big Bear). Located right in Big Bear Lake proper, this is an excellent place to take your family sledding and tubing. There are plenty of hills with gentle slopes and room for general snow play. It is also very popular so get there early (before 10 a.m.) or later near dusk. As with any National Forest, an Adventure Pass is required to park ( $5.00 daily or $30.00 annual pass). Aspen Glen is great for snow tubes and plastic toboggans.
Gray’s Peak Trail head
Located on the opposite side of the lake between the dam and the city of Fawnskin is a great option for fun in the snow. It is less crowded than the tube areas in town. Gray’s Peak even has real restrooms. There is plenty of room and gentle slopes for a fun filled family day. The city of Fawnskin is only a mile or so away to get lunch and other supplies. I have seen many people tubing the hill behind the Fawnskin Post Office and it looks great. I am not sure about the rules there but a whole lot of people were having a good time there.
Cougar Crest Trail
Continuing around the south side of Big Bear Lake you will come to Cougar Crest Trail parking lot. Again, there is plenty of room to play and gentle slopes to sled down. The snow here does tend to melt faster than the other spots but is a great option on crowded weekends.
Located at the end of the lake opposite the dam, near the Stanfield Cutoff, Woodland Trail provides another less crowded chance for snow tubing. The snow does melt faster here but there are 2 parking lots and plenty of small hills when snow is present. As with all National Forest parking areas, an Adventure pass is required and they definitely will write tickets so get your pass before you go park.
800 Wildrose Lane
Big Bear Lake, CA 92315
Open 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.
All day pass is $30.00 and $25.00 Evening Pass Friday and Saturday only 5 p.m. – 9 p.m.
Alpine Slide is a great option when the snow is hard to find. They make snow and groom snow from October to April, weather allowing. It is pricey and gets very crowded. Best bet is to come as soon as they open or come back for the night tubing. Parking is free and tubes are provided.
Big Bear Snow Play
42825 Big Bear Blvd
Big Bear Lake Ca 92315
Open 10 a.m.- 4 p.m.
$30.00 all day pass
$25.00 Night Glow Tube
5 p.m.- 9 p.m. Friday Saturday only
This is another great option when not much snow is around as they make their own snow as soon as the weather is cold enough. It does get crowded there so go early. The parking is free and restrooms and a snack bar are available. Glow Tubing is super fun with the snow hill lit up in neon colors. All tubes are provided.
There you have 7 great sledding options near Big Bear Lake but there are numerous options along the way up as you will see below.
Highway 38 via Redlands
Barton Flats Snow Play Area
Located off Hwy 38 out of Redlands via Jenks Lake Road West
There are a dozen good sledding areas off of Hwy 38, the best being Barton Flats. Go past the little town of Angelus Oaks and watch for Jenks Lake Road. Head back up the hill for a half mile or so and you can enjoy an afternoon of fun in the snow. The store in Angelus Oaks can sell you an Adventure Pass. There is a safety area for putting on snow chains just past the store if needed. Usually the Highway Patrol will have a notification for that but always use caution.
Many other areas are available as you head up Hwy 38 towards Big Bear. Just make sure your vehicle is completely off the main Highway. Often you can have a nice little spot all to your own group, so keep your eyes open. My favorite is the turnout near Onyx Peak. At 8,000 ft this area almost always has snow. No restrooms will be available in these type of spots so take that into consideration. Also do not go to far off snow plowed roads as you may get stuck on ice.
Highway 18 from Arrowhead
Crest Park Picnic Area to Switzer Picnic Area
East of Santa’s Village to just east of Heaps Peak/Allison Ranch Road
Green Valley Lake road to Lakeview point
Along Hwy 18 from Lake Arrowhead there are several excellent places to make snowmen, snow angels and go sledding. As you drive up toward Running Springs and Big Bear you are traveling through the National Forest. There are many places you can park and enjoy yourself. Look for where others are playing and if parking is safe and legal, stop and go play. That is the beauty of living in Southern California, we are never more than 2 hours from our next adventure. So pack some snacks, dress up in your snow gear and go enjoy yourselves. The kids will always remember their days in the snow. This is a great, inexpensive way to do something the whole family will enjoy so get out there and have some fun!
“The mountains are calling, I must go.” ~ John Muir