Who says you have to take the same way to Big Bear every time? There’s a golden opportunity to mix things up a bit on your drive to Big Bear for a getaway weekend in September.
State Route 330 is closed to traffic from Sept. 9-20 for much-needed construction work. But that doesn’t mean the way to Big Bear is blocked. There are three ways to get to Big Bear from all points in Southern California.
As you make your way to the mountains, make the drive part of your adventure. Here are a few things to do along the way to Big Bear in September.
Highway 38 from Mentone:
• Apple picking, part one. Fall is apple time. Take a side trip to Oak Glen and visit one of the many apple farms. For more information, visit www.oakglen.net.
• Mill Creek Visitor Center, 34701 Mill Creek Road, Mentone. 909-382-2882. Services include San Gorgonio Wilderness permits, Forest Adventure passes, maps and gifts, bear-resistant canister sales and rentals.
• Big Falls Trail hike, Valley of the Falls Road, Forest Falls. This difficult 0.3-mile trail features a waterfall. Warning: Do not hike or climb past the overlook. It is dangerous because of loose, slippery and steep terrain. More information is available at the Mill Creek Ranger Station.
• Breakfast or lunch at The Oaks Restaurant,
37676 State Route 38, Angelus Oaks. 909-794-2777.
theoakson38.com. Established in 1946, the restaurant opens at 7:30 a.m. every morning and serves breakfast all day.
• Apple picking, part 2. If you don’t want to take the side trip to Oak Glen, there is another apple picking option near Angelus Oaks, five miles east of the town of Angelus Oaks on Hill Ranch Road (Forest Service Road 1N86) at State Route 38 mile marker 24.91. The ranch usually opens to the public in mid-September. Call in advance at 714-315-1277, 909-389-9410 or visit www.stetsoncreekranch.com. The Stetson Creek Ranch is surrounded by the San Bernardino National Forest in a secluded location.
Highway 18 from Lucerne Valley:
• Wolf Mountain Sanctuary, 7520 Fairlane Road, Lucerne Valley. The sanctuary offers educational tours, open Thursday through Sunday, 10 a.m. to noon. For reservations, call 760-248-7818 between 8 a.m. and 6 p.m. No calls accepted on Monday. Visit wolfmountainsanctuary.net for more information.
• Happy Trails Rental, 4WD, ATV and off-road tours, 32838 Old Woman Springs Road, Lucerne Valley.
Highway 18 from San Bernardino to Big Bear.
Yes, you can still get here from the front way, if you take State Route 18 from San Bernardino through Crestline and on to Running Springs and Big Bear. this is part of the Rim of the World scenic route. Start at Waterman Avenue off Interstate 210 in San Bernardino.
First stop: Crestline.
• Heart Rock Trail hike, State Route 138, San Bernardino National Forest. It’s a nice short hike near Camp Seely. This is a side trip off Highway 18.
• Lake Gregory Regional Park,
24171 Lake Drive, Crestline. 909-338-2233. Hike around the little lake. There is also a water park, canoe and kayak rentals.
• Coffee at Higher Grounds Coffee,
23776 Lake Drive, Crestline. 909-489-2772. Lavendar latte with oat milk, honey cinnamon latte, vegan baked goods.
Stop No. 2: Lake Arrowhead.
• Explore Lake Arrowhead Village, 28200 Highway 189, Lake Arrowhead. Detour from Highway 18 for a pit stop.
Stop No. 3: SkyForest.
• SkyPark at Santa’s Village, 28950 State Route 18, Skyforest. 909-744-9373, www.skyparksantasvillage.com. Open Thursdays through Sundays. Bike park, recreation, restaurants, gifts, hiking, fishing, camping, train ride and more.
• Heaps Peak Arboretum, 29358 State Route 18, Skyforest. 909-382-2790, www.heapspeakarboretum.com. Open daily dawn to dusk. Sequoia Trail, demonstration gardens, guided nature walks.
Stop No. 4: Running Springs/Arrowbear.
While the Childrens Forest Visitor Information Center is closed after Labor Day, there is still plenty to do in and around Running Springs.
• Keller Peak Lookout Tower, Forest Road 1N96, Running Springs. Open to the public daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. through mid-November. Views of Lake Arrowhead, Lake Gregory and Lake Silverwood. On a clear day views stretch to the Pacific Ocean and Santa Catalina Island. Along the way, stop by the historical marker about a Martin B-26 that crashed at Keller Peak during World War II. Some of the wreckage is still there.
• Deep Creek Lake, Arrowbear. The lake is south of Arrowbear Dam, off Deep Creek Road on Deep Creek Drive.
Stop No. 5: Green Valley Lake.
Turn north off State Route 18 onto Green Valley Lake Road. The tiny lake village offers camping, fishing, hiking, swimming, Artisan Tour, birdwatching and more. Visit the Log Cabin Cafe and Malt Shoppe (909-939-0515) or the Green Valley Lake General Store (760-574-5511), green-valley-lake.com.
Destination: Big Bear.
After exploring the small towns in the San Bernardino Mountains, plan to stay the weekend in Big Bear Lake.
• Big Bear Visitors Center, 40824 Big Bear Blvd., Big Bear Lake. 909-866-7000, www.eventsinbigbear.com. Stop by the Visitors Center between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. for comprehensive information on lodging, dining, shopping, recreation and attractions. Then kick back, relax and enjoy a Big Bear weekend. v