Big Bear Lake is located in the beautiful San Bernardino Mountains to the East of Los Angeles. Many Angelinos head “up the hill” in the wintertime for a little skiing, but Big Bear is a gorgeous destination all year round, particularly in the fall.
There are very few places in Southern California where you can really experience autumn. If traveling back East isn’t in the cards for you, escape for a day or take a mini-vacation to Big Bear and go on a hike to take in the gorgeous fall foliage. From mid October to early November, Mother Nature transforms Big Bear Lake into a sea of gold, crimson, amber and yellow.
The brilliant fall colors of other trees like aspens, cottonwoods, and oaks really pop against the thousands of evergreen trees and the ground is covered with rust-colored ferns. Big Bear Village is a great place to take in the red maples.
Some of the best spots include, Mill Creek Road, The Pine Knot Trail and Castle Rock Trail. The Aspen Grove is thought to be the most ideal for those who want to escape for a day and take it all in with a hike.
It is east of Big Bear Lake, off Highway 38 at the Heart Bar Campground on Forest Service Road 1N02. Visitors follow 1N02 to 1N05 to the Aspen Grove Trail parking area (2.6 miles from Highway 38). From there take the Aspen Grove Trail, which leads directly to the trees, about 1.5 miles from the parking area.
Perhaps you’d rather take in the gorgeous fall colors by horseback instead of on foot? Baldwin Lake Stables offers different types of rides to explore the backwoods of Big Bear. Hourly, half-day, sunset rides and tours through National Forest areas are available, and the stables are open all year round.
The stables are located on the east end of Big Bear Valley, which is known to have some of the best equestrian trails in Southern California. The Pacific Crest Trail is a well-maintained trail that offers mostly flat surface with some moderate climbs. Some of the trails lead to peaks which provide spectacular panoramic views of Big Bear Valley, and some have compared the area to parts of Colorado, Wyoming and Northern Arizona. A beautiful and fun way to take in the scenery.
The fall colors are said to peak in mid-October. You know what else happens in Big Bear in mid-October? Oktoberfest! This popular event is in its 45th year and runs 7 consecutive weekends in the fall. This year it is September 19 through Halloween.
The festival features live music, German food and bands, games, contests, log sawing competitions, a children’s fun-zone, clogging and a huge dance floor in front of the stage. Outside the Oktoberfest venue, you can take a break from the action to stroll along the Budenstrasse (avenue of the Booths) and shop for handmade arts, crafts and collectibles. The weekend festivities takes place at The Convention Center of Big Bear Lake located at 42900 Big Bear Blvd.
Big Bear Lake is a gorgeous destination all year long. However, if you’ve never checked it out during the fall, I hope you’ll give it a try. You won’t be disappointed!
The winter time has great appeal, with excellent ski runs and plenty of room for those who enjoy cross country skiing, as well as the downhill variety. Spring and summer time have plenty of opportunity for outdoor activities such as fishing, hiking and camping. The quaint Big Bear Village is filled with wonderful shops, restaurants and art galleries. There are many cabins for rent, and Big Bear is such a lovely and close destination for Los Angelinos that it’s a great choice for a vacation home.