Enjoying California’s Big Bear with Your Dog

So, you and your furry friend have had it with the Los Angeles hustle and bustle and need to get away. The Santa Ana winds are making life miserably hot — even when you’re not the one sporting a 24/7 fur coat! You’ve read that Big Bear Lake is a mere two-hour drive away and decided a four-day getaway in the nearby San Bernadino Mountains is just what you need.

Taking a dog to Big Bear is a great thing to do. First, it’s located high in the mountains, not far from the Pacific Coast Trial, and it is surrounded by a National Forest. There are plenty of outdoorsy things to do that are sure to put a smile on your face or a wag in your tail, as the case may be.

You check into one of the many pet friendly Big Bear lodging alternatives and make Fido comfortable with some food and water. This might be at a standalone cabin or at a Big Bear hotel — there’s no shortage of pet friendly places in Big Bear! The Pine Knot Guest Ranch even advertises “two acres of off-leash exercise area for your dog.” It could be just what the vet ordered!

After getting a place to stay and something to eat, it’s time to venture out. There is a three-and-a-half mile, paved path that snakes along the southern shore of the lake — called the Alpine Pedal Path — and it’s open to dogs. Moreover, all public beaches facing Rt. 36 are accessible from the Alpine Pedal Path, and they all permit dogs. If your dog is like my dog and enjoys swimming, this could seriously be the high point of his/her holiday. You may want to save it for sometime toward the end of the trip.

Most of the other hiking trails up and down Bear Mountain and Snow Summit are also open to dogs, and walks in the spring or autumn are particularly beautiful and fun to share. Remember, though, that this area is remote and surrounded by wilderness. There are coyotes and the occasional wolf, not to mention rare sightings of bobcats, mountain lions and, yes, bears. If your dog sports an overly adventuresome spirit, it may be best to keep him/her leashed.

Hopefully, after the four days of hiking, swimming, resting, eating and breathing the clean, pure mountain air, both you and Fido will be able to return to city life totally reinvigorated by your visit to Big Bear.

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