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Big Bear Mountain Resorts

Check out the Unofficial Guide to Big Bear for details on things like secret stashes, best places to ski, avoiding lift lines, and other local insights on the mountain. 


Big Bear Mountain Resorts is actually two separate ski resorts joined by a complimentary shuttle service.  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.


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.



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Trail Map
Trail Map






Name Description Maximum Occupancy Price Range

Big Bear Ski and Lodging Packages Selector


A broad variety of lodgings from rooms to townhouses to luxury vacation homes 20 Starting at $69





Big Bear is a four season resort.  If you are looking to beat the summer heat, escape to Big Bear to enjoy boating, fishing, waterskiing, hiking and mountain biking.  The dual mountain season ski pass allows bikers and hikers to ride the summer sky chair (more commonly known as Chair 1) to the peak of Summit.  Riders of all ability levels will find something to their liking and even the little ones and grandma and grandpa can easily walk the Bristlecone loop. The family pooch is welcome both on the sky chair and on the trails.  The View Haus BBQ is open for those who would like to enjoy a beer and/or lunch at the top of the mountain.  No Season pass?  No problem!  Day rates for adults range from $10.00 (one way - no bicycle) to $32.00 (all day with bicycle) .  Check the summer website for more information and hours.


New this summer... Summit is adding a Zip Line!  The price will $20.00 for one ride and $30.00 for two.

Summer: Walking and Biking Trails accessible from Snow Summit's Summer Sky Chair





















Big Bear Mountain Resorts

Big Bear Mountain Resorts has been Southern California’s first choice for winter activities for more than 55 years. Together, Snow Summit Mountain Resort and Bear Mountain Resort have the region’s most progressive terrain parks, most dependable snow conditions, the largest full-service learning programs and a multitude of premier services. Our dedication to outstanding guest service and a consistent quality snow surface provides the perfect atmosphere for plenty of memorable skiing and snowboarding experiences. The two resorts are of similar size and are located in the San Bernardino Mountains, just a tank of gas away roundtrip from most areas in Southern California. The resorts are about two miles apart and are connected via a free inter-mountain express shuttle service. Each resort offers a variety of diverse terrain providing skiers and snowboarders with a combined 430 developed acres, 26 lifts (including 4 high-speed detachable quads) and more than 55 runs. Snow Summit Mountain Resort – Snow Summit provides a traditional alpine atmosphere with a great deal of intermediate to advanced terrain and mainstream cruising for skiers and snowboarders. With a wide variety of interconnecting runs, you can explore the entire mountain without ever returning to the base area! Winter sports enthusiasts are guaranteed to enjoy their time on the snow with unparalleled learning programs for snowboarders and skiers of all ages, limited ticket sales, and beginner, intermediate and advanced terrain. Night skiing is open at Snow Summit most Fridays, Saturdays and holiday periods beginning at 3 p.m. Bear Mountain Resort – Bear Mountain is proud to be named #1 Park in the Nation by Transworld Snowboarding Magazine’s 2009 Resort Poll. THE PARK is built by riders for riders, and this recognition is a testament to Bear’s excellent staff and our commitment to providing you with one of the most progressive terrain parks in the country. Spread over 198 acres, THE PARK delivers 150 jumps, more than 80 jibs, Southern California's only Superpipe, one standard halfpipe, plenty of exclusive designs, and a youthful energetic environment that attracts snowboarders and skiers around the world. Bear continues to be a favorite for world-class riders, in fact, some of our pro team riders learned right here at Big Bear Mountain Resorts. Our beginner to advanced terrain and park features allows snowboarders and skiers of all levels to advance at their own pace. At Bear Mountain, you can expect wide-open learning areas, challenging steeps and the nation’s #1 park!

Snow making percent100%
Lifts-Surface Lifts-Magic carpet3 BM/ 3 SS
Lifts-Surface Lifts-Rope tow
Lifts-Surface Lifts-Poma
Lifts-Surface Lifts-T bar
Lifts-Surface Lifts-J bar
Lifts-Chair Lifts-Single
Lifts-Chair Lifts-Double4 BM/ 5 SS
Lifts-Chair Lifts-Triple2 BM/ 2 SS
Lifts-Chair Lifts-Quad1 BM/ 2 SS
Lifts-Chair Lifts-High speed quad2 BM/ 2 SS
Lifts-Chair Lifts-Five person
Lifts-Chair Lifts-Six person
Lifts-Chair Lifts-Eight person
Lifts-Coggle train
Lifts-Total number of lifts12 BM/ 14 SS
Lifts-Total lift capacity16,590/hr. BM/ 18,550 SS
Trails-1-Beginner15% BM/ 10% SS
Trails-2-Intermediate15% BM/ 65% SS
Trails-3-Advanced40% BM/ 25% SS
Trails-4-Expert only30% BM
Trails-5-Terrain park2 BM/ 2 SS
Trails-6-Half pipe3
Runs-Steepest run
Runs-Longest run1.5 miles BM/ 1.25 miles SS
General-Base elevation7140' BM/ 7000' SS
General-Vertical drop1665' BM/ 1200' SS
General-Mountain range
General-Annual skier visits
General-Back country access550 acres
General-Total area in bounds748 acres BM/240 acres SS
General-Snow making coverage
Model Name/TypeMPNEAN/UPC


Pros: Fantastic snowmaking and grooming, 320 day of sunshine a year, varied terrain, top notch parks, easily accessible, great instructors, friendly staff

Cons: crowded in the afternoons on weekends, spring conditions in the afternoons on many days, limited night life, poor parking facilities

Big Bear Mountain Resorts is actually two ski areas: Bear Mountain and Snow Summit.  A dual mountain pass provides access to both and a shuttle service is provided between the two ski areas.  I have been a season pass holder for a number of years and am proud to call these my home mountains.  No, they don't compare to Mammoth or Tahoe Resorts but, if you live in SoCal and would like to ski 30 plus days a year, Big Bear is your best choice.  I still ski Mammoth or Utah or Colorado, but I also ski every weekend and holiday in Big Bear.  These ski resorts are absolutely worth the drive and, if you work the mountain right, the crowds aren't as bad as advertised.


Let me start with the usual negatives and point out the silver lining:  


  1. These are day destination resorts with limited terrain. True ... but a dual mountain pass enables you to ski both areas.  The Bear Mountain only pass, allows night skiing at Summit. 
  2. The "double black" and "black diamonds" aren't.  They are more like Mammoth blue runs.  However, this same marking keeps the congestion down on those runs so go and enjoy!  
  3. The climate is mild and the afternoons become soft (or slushy in spring).  True, sunshine is awful!  The mornings usually have great conditions and everyone else is sleeping in, so there are few crowds ... and the resort offers a voucher if you leave before 1:00 P.M. (about $19.00) which is good for the next 12 months, no blackout days.   Got more than one voucher saved up?  No problem; combine them for a bigger discount. Get first chair, ski hard, get a voucher, come back, and repeat.  Better yet, arrive half an hour before first chair and you will actually get a great parking space!  
  4. The base is a zoo!  Yes, it is.  Don't let if fool you.  It's crowded mostly with "looky loos" and often the runs themselves are not as crowded as the base area would lead you to believe.  I've hit the runs more than once with a "well, I 'm here now so I might as well ski one attitude" only to ski straight onto lifts all morning.


SoCal residents who love to ski and ski regularly choose Big Bear Mountain Resorts for good reasons.


Fantastic snowmaking, and an almost unlimited supply of water from the lake, means that man creates what mother nature doesn't always provide - a decently long ski season.  Both Bear Mountain and Snow Summit traditionally open before Thanksgiving, are  usually close to fully open by Christmas Vacation, and remain open into mid April.  That's as good as many of the big resorts nationwide.


A fantastic grooming team, prepares the runs each night so that the corduroy is great right from first chair.  


The climate means there is little ice; just nice, solid hard pack.


Two high speed quads at the base get you up the mountain quickly in the morning ... again I SAID in the morning.  


Two different ski resorts means two different vibes; pick your flavor.  


Snow Summit is family oriented, welcomes both skiers and snowboarders, and has a beginner/intermediate terrain park for those progressing in the sport.  Summit is friendly and very laid back.  The terrain park and beginner areas are often very crowded on weekends and holidays, leaving the intermediate and advanced runs relatively crowd free ... if you avoid Miracle Mile and Log Chute that is!


Bear Mountain appeals more to the 20 something crowd. Although it welcomes both skiers and boarders, most of the resort is dedicated park terrain. The terrain park has some really ADVANCED boarders and the pace is fast!  After all, Sean White did get his start here!  It's no accident that Bear Mountain placed 33rd in Outside Magazines 2012 top 40 nationwide, resort rankings.  It's definitely more of a party atmosphere; but if the snow gets soft, you can grab a beer and be entertained by the action in the park.  For skiers, Bear offers the best local advanced terrain at the peak and there aren't many others up there.  Geronimo is a nice long run, and decently steep for SoCal.  Start at Bear; ski the AM,  kick back, have a beer and watch the action in the park, then head over to Summit for night skiing.  It makes for a great day!


Am I biased?  Unabashedly so!  My screen name says it all!  I have skied for 43 years and, although my ski bucket list is still HUGE, I have skied a lot of mountains.  I  have to ski, and would rather ski a full season than just experience a couple of great trips.  My motto - do both.  It's really not a choice!


Pros: reasonably steep hills

Cons: not enough natural snow and too much grooming

It's easy to get to nearby snow for some cruising in Southern California. Geronimo is steep! Challenging because it is primarily man made snow groomed to a pretty firm base. You can find chairs with minimal lift lines (like Geronimo and Silver) even on a busy weekend. The race programs are good for both kids and Masters. Spring skiing can be great. Occasionally storms bring fantastic powder - and the hill is steep enough to make those days fun.

The roads get crowded. Some of the lifts get crowded. There are lots of snowboards (maybe 80% snowboards) and for some reason they won't ride four to a quad chair - ever. Everything groomed means not enough variety and even the longer runs flash by quickly (CAski25's pro is a con for me regarding the grooming). The tickets work at Snow Summit - a quick bus ride away so you can get a bit more terrain but it is quite similar.

The town of Big Bear has a fair amount to offer but you need to drive to where you want to go. Renting a house is common and fun.

You can have a lot of fun there. Focus on racing and you can get really good. But if you really want to ski from Socal, hop on Southwest to Reno and ski Squaw.


San Diego


Pros: Close proximity to LA

Cons: Dangerously crowded on weekends

Big Bear is a small local resort for LA skiers.  It is dangerously crowded on weekends.  The terrain is OK to have some fun for the day; not much for expert or advanced skiers.  The snow is mostly man-made unless they have a big storm which may occur once or twice per winter.  We tried it a couple of times when we lived in the LA area, but decided that it was better to invest the extra time in driving to Mammoth.


Pros: All of terrain is well groomed. Short drive from L.A. Better coverage then other local mnts. Express chairs. Terrain for all skier types.

Cons: Crowds. Dont change prices based on snow quality. Only a few long runs down. No pick and choose parking spot. Parked in Boones.

I skied snow summit the whole day. They had the whole mountain open with 1.5 to 2.5ft of snow. Lots of icy sections on the runs with packed powder spots distributed in. Everything was groomed nicely. I tend to ski fast downhill expert and intermediate runs only. I didnt have an issue with crowds this day not even at the chair lift. The wall which is the expert bowl area of the mountain had enough snow to get the job done but unless another storm comes through here its looking really icy for now. When there's a fresh dump this place is really fun and snow conditions are good. There is only 3 directions I go down on this hill because they are the longest runs down. Those runs are fun and keep bringing me back from time to time. My choice of mountains is Mammoth based on distance but when I'm short on time and money this place makes me happy. The parking staff fills the parking lot in rows and this can be really annoying especially when you have to park in the very last row next to the porty and its smells like crap man. The view house at the top has good tasting food and isnt excessively pricey.


Pros: With Bear and Summit being so close together it feels like a larger resort.

Cons: Lifties don't always manage the newbies in the lift lines (hill edict is lacking). Update-Jan 2010 - Lifties at Summit have improved over last year

I still find it hard to believe that I can live in Orange county and still find decent skiing and snowboarding within a 2 hr drive.  Make no mistake, this is no big mountain experience but it provides solid value. 

Big Bear Mountain Resorts is Snow Summit and Bear Mountain –  With a total of 26 lifts between the two neighboring resorts, interchangeable lift tickets, a free 1.5 mile shuttle between areas, over 438 skiable acres and 100% snowmaking with plenty of water from Big Bear Lake. 

Each mountain has its own character and flavor.  Bear has extensive terrain parks and some great black diamond skiing.  Boarders need to be on their "A" game though, as the activity is fast and furious.   On the other hand watching all the talent is worth the price of admission.  Summit  is a more laid back and provides a better family atmosphere.  It caters equally to borders and skiers.