Alternatives to Big Bear
Road closures in the Mountains especially during the winter months is a common occurrence, and if you were going to the Big Bear and found yourself stranded on HWY 18 past little town of running springs while driving up into the mountains on Hwy 330 have no worries! We’ve got two alternatives to Big Bear that you will enjoy while exploring San Bernardino mountains with kids.
We’ve got just the place that not too many locals will want you to know about. The secret spot is right next to the local school – Charles Hoffman Elementary School, located on Running Springs school rd.
Btw, if you’re looking for a really awesome place to stay over couple of nights we’d recommend Air BnB one of the local cabins; also try Vacasa Rentals which have even better deals, or you can try Dovid Oved Retreat Center.
Charles Hoffman Elementary School
First of all whenever you’re going to the mountains in California, especially during the winter just throw a plastic sled or a couple of cardboards into the trunk of your car. You will thank us later. We have traveled to Mt. Shasta, Lassen Volcanic Park, Lake Tahoe, Yosemite National forest, Sequoia National Forest and San Jacinto, just to find snow even during July !
No kidding, there’s snow in many good parts of the Sierras almost all year around, even with the global warming you will have a good chance witnessing snow in California in the middle of the summer.
Back to the topic – if you have a sled in the trunk of your car (like we do) you can easily stop at the Charles Hoffman Elementary School, specifically their Brulte Field. This place is so much better than any ski lift, especially for little kids who really need only a few meters of a hill to enjoy the thrills an joys of sledding. This is our secrete alternative to Big Bear! =)
Parking at Charles Hoffman Elementary School
We were lucky enough to discover the Elementary School in the San Bernardino Mountains early in the morning because one all the traffic was diverted from the Big Bear a lot of people decided to show up at the school and unfortunately the parking is fairly limited at the school’s parking lot.
Parking tip – park at the further accessory lot; there will be less of a chance that some genius double parks in from of your vehicle if it gets crowded.
Alternative to Snowdrift Snow Tubing Park & now Valley Mountain Resort
Beside the hills at the Charles Hoffman Elementary School you can head west on Hwy 18 to Lake Arrowhead Village. One you will be getting closer to the little town plaza there will be literally only one or two turn out where you can stop and sled with your kids. Several more spots are located on the exit from Lake arrowhead village as you head south west on hwy 173 and then west on hwy 18.
Obviously, you will engage in most of the winter sports around California mountains during the winter month I would still recommend throwing a cardboard or even a small plastic sled into the trunk of your car for the simple reason, the winter in the mountains sometimes starts in November, like that one time we went to San Jacinto in the Fall and ended up hiking around the Tram station, because there was so much snow.
Sometimes the winter lasts until June or even July in Northern California Sierra mountains or the Mt Shasta. We ended up sledding on Lassen Peak, near Mt Shasta in June last year. So yeah, California truly is a place where you can snowboard and surfboard within the same day, given right climate conditions.