A Day in Big Bear Lake

On New Year’s weekend my family and I found ourselves with little to do so we decided to spend a day in the mountains. Normally, that would be problematic as I’m terrified of driving in the snow, especially on winding, mountain roads but (aside from today’s rainstorm) this winter has been mild and there was no snow to think of. So we headed up to Big Bear Lake for a day of adventure.

Our last visit to Big Bear was over 20 years ago and I wouldn’t call it a successful trip. Word to the wise, mice don’t make the best weekend companions. But my family and I are nothing if not curious and were eager to visit the lakeside town again.

Don’t let that white stuff fool you, it’s manufactured just for the skiers and snowboarders. In fact, it was a beautiful, balmy day – no jackets required. We started with a brief stroll around the village which hasn’t changed much in the ensuing decades and then headed off to the zoo.

The Big Bear Alpine Zoo is truly a special place. Established in 1959 after a local wildfire it’s a facility dedicated to rehabilitating displaced and sick or injured wildlife and returning them to the wild. When that’s not possible due to chronic issues or human imprinting it gives those animals a safe, permanent home.

The zoo is home to several varieties of wildlife ranging from badgers to black bears to bald eagles. I’m not generally a zoo person but I love this one so much because of it’s emphasis on rehabilitation and it’s wide variety of native animals.

Throughout the day there are opportunities to meet the wildlife and I was lucky enough to get up close to this beautiful Swainson’s Hawk. This incredible bird’s wing tips were burnt on electrical wires rendering it unable to survive in the wild. Now, it has a loving home at the zoo.

In a few months the zoo will be relocating to a brand new, lager facility and I can’t wait to return and check it out.

After spending some time with the local fauna we decided to check out the local flora on a nature walk at the Big Bear Discovery Center. Located on the quieter north side of the lake it’s an interpretive center filled with information about the area and the starting point for some local trails.

Still recovering from holiday indulgence we decided to take an easy 1/2 mile trail that offered a short escape into the trees. It was a beautiful day and the scenery was pretty impressive.

Blue skies and green trees in December! What could be better?

Not satisfied to leave the area without visiting the lake we headed to nearby Juniper Point and headed toward the water.

Quiet and serene it was the perfect spot to stop and reflect on our day in the mountains. Filled with fresh air, blue skies and the beautiful outdoors it was the best way to end our year. Now that it’s 2018 I plan on continuing to explore and see what other wonders the area brings!

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