Los Angeles Secret: Big Bear Lake

October 24, 2023

2023 Sept 5 - Big Bear Lake (CA)  Cougar Crest Trail  Views

2023 Sept 8 - Big Bear Lake (CA)  Views

Photographer: Cindy Todd   

Summary Author: Cindy Todd   

Big Bear Lake in the San Bernardino Mountains of southern California is less than a 3-hour drive from downtown Los Angeles. This large lake is surrounded by forests in all directions. The lake is actually a man-made reservoir where snowmelt and rainwater are collected. At an elevation of 6,743 feet (2,055 m), the incline is severe enough that when driving up to this town altitude sickness is pretty common.

This area was originally populated by indigenous people who built small villages near what is now the lake -- at the time it was a marshy area. Though today, populated by a diverse people, it’s still a lake surrounded by small towns. 

During my week-long camping trip here, I engaged in a wide variety of activities. I particularly enjoyed hiking the Cougar Crest Trail to the top of one of the nearby mountains and walking around part of the lake at sunrise. Photos taken in early September 2023.

Big Bear Lake, California Coordinates: 34.2439, -116.9114

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Sherwin Lakes, California