We relish any chance to visit Big Bear Lake. Usually it’s our family ski destination or a wonderful summer vacation respite when something else in the Southern California area beckons us below. When my teen daughter, girlfriend and I were on a Southern California girlfriend getaway last week and I heard the colors were popping in Big Bear, we jumped at the chance, even if only overnight, to savor the exquisite beauty of Big Bear, in yet a different season.
What we didn’t realize until we arrived this time in Autumn, for the first time, was that being the shoulder season, Big Bear offered a peaceful serenity that was a true delight after having spent a week in the hustle and bustle of Southern California areas below. Sure we have been to Big Bear and appreciated that unlike so many destinations of value, it offers a less-touristy and uncrowded appeal. But in Autumn that asset was only better.
In the winter and summer, during peak seasons, we have always enjoyed how when one approaches Big Bear, life slows down and visitors decompress as they succumb to “Big Bear Time.” But even more so, was this therapeutic decompression in the Autumn, not long before the winter snow enthusiasts will make a pilgrimage to Big Bear’s spectacular winter offerings.
The highlight of our little overnight jaunt was a hike above the lake on the Pine Knot Trail. The last days of October have been kind to Big Bear this year and there could not have been a more perfect climate for an invigorating hike to enjoy the popping of color framing the lake.
After a peaceful night’s slumber in our adorable little cabin rental from Alpine Resort Rentals, we were ready to look for the higher level fall color we’d heard so much about.
We saw just a couple of hikers and mountain bikers on our two hour hike as we climbed vistas and bluffs which afforded spectacular views of the lake we hold dear in our hearts but that we had never enjoyed before in this particular season. Sapphire and cobalt skies and pristine mountain air kept us motivated and refreshed as we meandered through the woods of various pines and shrubs. The call of an occasional Stellar Jay summoned us along our way. We finished just after midday when the glorious weather was near peaking in the mid 70’s.
Rejuvenated but famished, our hearty appetites were satiated at Big Bear’s best burger joint, Bear Belly Deli where owner Jayme Nordine has been serving up fresh and hearty, high-quality goodness for a half dozen years to locals and visitors with big (Bear) appetites. Our burgers were huge and the deli sandwiches gynormous, all fresh and prepared artfully right in front of our eyes. We cut them in half and shared around the table to savor the goodness. As we sat at this dog-friendly locals’ joint on the patio, enjoying our last glimpse of the surrounding brilliant foliage glistening in the warm Autumn sunshine, we were reminded again why Big Bear is so special to us and thousands of others.
Each time of the year at Big Bear is a varied and brilliant facet to a sparkling diamond. A true all-season, alpine destination, Big Bear Lake never disappoints, and we can’t wait to return to see it in another season, with all its grandeur and splendor.
Carmel L. Mooney is the editor of Roadtripsforcouples.com, an online travel magazine. Carmel co-hosts a travel and dining radio show every Sunday afternoon. Her family travel column can be read in California Kids Magazine at: Valcomnews.com. You can follow her on Twitter: @CarmelLeeMooney Facebook. Carmel is also the Executive Director of Pawsitive Service Dog Solutions, a non-profit that trains and places Autism Service Dogs. You can read her service dog blog at: PawsitiveSolutions.org.