Big Bear Lake in California

by  guest-paddler

A self-supported trip created by guest-paddler

Trip Overview

Big Bear Lake, in the heart of Southern California, is a multi-faceted jewel of a lake. It's complexion continually changes from the quiet, calm mornings, to the wind blown afternoons.

In the mornings, the reflections on the water from the tree-lined mountains are spectacular. Wildlife abounds throughout the area; from herons, to raccoons that come right up to your camp, to the trout that taunt you as they constantly jump out of the water all around your boat.

Near the dam is an area lined with large boulders that come right down to the water line. There are also a couple of good size bays that are wind protected in the afternoons.

The other end of the lake has a protected marsh and an eagle sanctuary; however, neither of these is accessible by boat.

The fishing here is excellent, provided you know what the trout are biting on during any particular season. Our group caught dozens of fish one weekend in the spring, but weren't as lucky on the same bait in the summer, even though it wasn't uncommon to see a fish jump out of the water around you every minute or so!

Saturday is by far the busiest day. With all the fisherman, ski boats, jet skis, kayaks and canoes in the water by mid-day, you have to be constantly alert. The rest of the week, the traffic drops off considerably, making for a much more relaxed time.

The wind does come up around mid-day, but our Hydra Sea Twin made short work of the wind driven boat wakes. By early evening though, the wind dies down, and the wildlife comes out again as the day boaters head for home.

In addition to boating, the area offers mountain biking down Snow Summit in the summer, and snow skiing in the winter in addition to numerous other activities.


The lake has many homes to rent, B&B's, Inns, campground and RV facilities around the lake. In addition, there are several marinas that rent all type of water toys.


Non-registered boats (such as a kayak) are $10.00 a day, however, an annual permit is only $25.00


From San Bernardino, take I-215 north from I-10. Go east on hwy 330 to hwy 18 north up the mountain (follow the "mountain resorts" signs).
From Redlands, take hwy 38 east from I-10 to hwy 18 toward Big Bear.
From Victorville, take hwy 18 east to Big Bear.

Trip Details

  • Trip Duration: Day Trip
  • Sport/Activity: Kayaking
  • Skill Level: Intermediate
  • Water Type: Flat/Sheltered Water

Trip Location