SNOW SUMMIT UNOFFICIAL GUIDE
Snow Summit is half of the Big Bear Mountain Resorts which is actually two separate ski resorts joined by a complimentary shuttle service. both season passes and daily lift tickets also include both resorts. These two ski areas have distinctly different flavors. Although I enjoy them both, I usually choose one for the day rather than lose valuable ski time shuttling to the other. To each his own however; there are some who enjoy skiing one area in the morning and the other after lunch - or Bear in the day and Summit at night.
Both mountains have a parking issue so either get there before first chair or expect to park in the boonies and ride the shuttle to the resort. The shuttles run often and do provide good service.
For the Bear Mountain Unofficial guide, see http://www.epicski.com/a/unofficial-guide-of-bear-mountain-big-bear-lake-california
Both resorts usually get a WROD open before Thanksgiving. Both have excellent snowmaking, an unlimited water supply from the lake, a fantastic park and grooming crew, are usually fully open by the end of December, then remain open until mid April.
All photos are courtesy of Big Bear Mountain Resorts.
Snow Summit is a great resort with something for everyone in the family. The majority of the runs are easy cruising blues. Snow summit is best described in terms of East, West, and Center areas.
THE WEST SIDE (chairs 2, 3, & 9)
This is by far the most crowded area of the resort. The majority of the runs are beginner/slow sliding zones with a few intermediate drops along the way. The biggest draw to the West Side is the park! Westridge Park is the longest run at Summit with nonstop features to entertain the park sliders. Westridge is lit and a highlight of the night skiing experience. The other draws to the West Side are the easy, family friendly cruisers appropriately named the "Family Fun Zone." When the ski team is not training, Ego Trip is a really fun blue run and my favorite "get the circulation going" warm up run. After 11:00 A.M., on most weekend days, this whole area becomes congested (except for Ego Trip) so plan to be patient.
The Family Fun Park
Ego Trip ... my favorite on the West Side
CENTER (chairs 1,2, 4,8,11)
The center of the mountain encompasses Miracle Mile (the annual WROD), Summit Run, and of course the bunny slope. Summit Run is a long, slow sliding only run, designated green. Although usually crowded, it is nice and wide and offers a good shadowing opportunity for skiers of different ability levels. Summit Run and Miracle Mile, which is a long cruising blue (with one offshoot designated black) both end at chair 2 and feed from alternate sides. Because they are the first runs everyone spots as they ride to the top, these are super congested runs after 10:00 A.M.. Two high speed quads feed into both of these runs, so catch them early or skip them until the next time.
The View down Miracle Mile
THE EAST SIDE (chairs 1,2, 5, 6 7 & 10)
This area is accessed by a cat track off the top of Miracle Mile to the East of chair 1. It is with great trepidation that I admit this is the least congested area of the mountain and has the most varied terrain. There are no park features on this side of the resort. The East side is dominated by intermediate and advanced runs, with no beginner terrain. That said, Summit is not Mammoth. The blue runs here are fairly gentle and the "steeps" are more like blue/blacks at Mammoth. I wouldn't plan on "pizza/french fries" in the bowls though; that isn't going to go well.
The first area you will pass is the "bowls" which are designated black runs (chair 6). The Wall is considered the most challenging run at Summit by most sliders. I disagree. I think Side Chute (more later) and the bottom of Olympic are more challenging runs. However, The Wall requires a certain amount of skill. It is steep enough that if you fall, you will slide a long way and others will have to clean up the yard sale. No shame! We've all been there! A word of caution about "Off Chute" which is a designated "blue" run next to Olympic. This run is too narrow to groom, perpetually shaded, and develops moguls which really quickly become rock hard! This run is not "easier" than the groomed bowl runs. If you want to learn to ski moguls, choose Dickey's; the sun exposure means the bumps soften a bit as the day progresses.
Front View of the Wall from the Cat Track which leads back to Miracle Mile
You don't have to wait for chair 6 to open. The cat track leads back to Miracle Mile. The run will be deserted and the bowls often have the best conditions on the mountain. A word to the wise however ... if you are skiing alone, it's probably better to wait for the lift to open. Nobody else will ski the bowls until the lift opens. If you wipe out on the Wall, your bindings will release and you will have difficulty self arresting. It is steep enough for a yard sale. I've recovered scattered equipment and skied them to the owner at the bottom on a number of occasions!
Side View of the Bowls
OTHER THAN THE BOWLS!
Back to the original cat track from chair 1. Pass the bowls and you will arrive on Log Chute, the longest run on this side. It is mostly blue, with a short black drop at the bottom. Shadowing Log Chute (to the West) is a run appropriately called "Side Chute" which is designated a black. Side Chute is actually a really fun run and, IMHO, the most challenging run at Summit. Sometimes it does get scraped off and slick in spots - just sayin'. If you enjoy this run, use chair 5, to lap it.
The bottom of Log Chute. Side Chute is to the left in the trees.
Log Chute also leads to the runs under chairs 7 & 10 at about midway down the mountain. Both these chairs support some great intermediate terrain. On a windy day, this area is protected by the trees. Tommy's is a quick short steeper drop that is designated a black, mainly because they allow this area to develop moguls. This, Dickey's, and Off Chute are often the only runs with moguls. The rest of the groomed runs in this area are smooth, cruising blues that are fun for the whole family. There are some ungroomed runs as well which are really fun after a big dump - Pipe Dream and a couple of glade runs; be careful since they do not blow these smaller side runs, the base depth is less than the rest of the mountain, and obstacles can suddenly appear as the snow melts.
Night skiing is ... well, a whole different vibe. Quite a few runs are lit and open and Westridge receives a fresh evening grooming!
The Annual Torchlight Parade! The slopes close for an hour but it is a sight to see!
Summer Fun! - Hiking, Biking, and Lunch!
Let me begin by identifying myself as a "hiking mom" so my personal summer experience of the mountain is hiking and lunch ... which I highly recommend but the way! However, for the more adventurous, there are extensive biking trails and a bike park.
This is how I like to spend my summer day - a nice wine and cheese picnic with a beautiful hike down the mountain!
Hey! It works for me and the scenic chair ride is included in my season pass. Lunch is extra! Of course if you want to bring a bike up, now that they have built a bike park, you need to buy a separate pass. Pre-bike park, the ski pass included bikes in the summer.
As you can see there are dedicated hiking trails, and bike trails for all levels.
The Bike Park
The best I can do is include some photos - all courtesy of Big Bear Mountain Resorts - that will give you a feel for the park. I am a skier, not a mountain biker.
As I said above, the "scenic chair ride" up - sans bike - is included in the season ski pass. Here is the link to all other rates.
Summer Activities in Big Bear Lake
Big Bear advertises itself as a four seasons resort and that is certainly true. For those wanting to escape the inland/desert summer heat, Big Bear Lake is a mecca with a daytime temp in the 70 - 80 range and a nice cool down to 55-65 in the evening. There are all the obvious lake activities of boating, fishing, water skiing, tubing, etc., but Big Bear also has a variety of great campgrounds worth checking out. My personal favorite is Serrano which is a state campground with large well treed sites, and it is adjacent to bike path which runs around the lake.
Here is a link to the Big Bear Summer Calendar of Events for 2014
My favorite summertime lake stop over is The Boathouse Lakeside Tavern (Formerly B's Backyard BBQ). They have docks available for loading, unloading, and parking your boat and pooches are welcome on their beach. Full bar service is available with plastic cups. I know the Barking Bears are not interested in those demon beverages ... but ... Just saying'! We are a generational family and this works beautifully for us. Grandpa can sit on the beach with his dog and drink some wine while the grandkids load and unload into the boat for tubing! The 4th of July is crazy though so ... if that is your plan ... good luck!
Have a great summer! Think Snow!