When it comes to recreation, Big Bear Lake is literally mountains of fun. With great activities ranging from world-class skiing and snowboarding, power boating and jet-skiing, to trout fishing and golfing. The area also offers some of the best shopping and dining around. For starters, you can take mountain biking to a whole new level. A lot of professional mountain bikers make Big Bear their home, because some of the world's best mountain biking trails with a full range of skill levels can be found here. The forests surrounding Big Bear Lake also offer trails for hikers and walkers at all skill levels. For the adventurous, high peaks offer 360 degree panoramas. Snow Summit's breathtaking Sky Chair can easily take you to the top so you can hike down while enjoying spectacular scenic vistas that include superb views of Big Bear Lake and deep forests.
In the summer, you will definitely want to enjoy water sports out of the lake. Big Bear Lake offers windsurfing, sail or wakeboarding, water or jet skiing, canoeing, kayaking sailing and paddle, pontoon or power boating. Also, when you see the great sport fishing available at Big Bear Lake, you'll be hooked. Trout, large and small mouth bass, blue gill (sunfish), crappie, and catfish are all plentiful. There are 23 miles of shoreline surrounding the lake, and in addition to all this fun, you can also find parasailing here.
The Big Bear Discovery Center recently opened and serves as "Your Gateway to Adventure and Discovery in the Great Outdoors." Located in Fawnskin, visitors can learn about the natural environment, attend lectures, join a Discovery Tour, view rotating exhibits on wildlife, wildflowers and history, while learning about the many recreational opportunities in the forest.
In the winter, you will naturally be pre-occupied with skiing and snowboarding during the days and sitting around a nice fire at night. However, don't forget that Big Bear is also home to the Largest Snow Play Hill in the San Bernardino Mountains, were you can sled and tube down the hills and build snowmen. This is a popular day destination for visitors from Los Angeles and the rest of Southern California, but while they have hours of driving ahead of them after their day of fun, you will be able to head home to your Big Bear cabin and relax.
You will find a real sense of community here through the annual celebrations. Each 4th of July provides fireworks, but you will also love Old Miners' Days, where you can relive historic Big Bear through logging and horseshoe contests and a chili cook-off. In May, there is the Spring Air Fair with crafts, games and live entertainment in the outdoor Beer Garden and in December, the community celebrates Christmas in the Village with strolling carolers among other festivities. Over at Fawnskin, the Logger's Jubilee is a popular event where Mountain Men clad in traditional garb compete in the axe throw, tomahawk throw, pole climb, chain saw, hot saw and log roll.
Also unique to Big Bear is the Moonridge Zoo, a 2.5 acre facility for animals wounded in the wilderness. The area fires of 1959 brought about the need to house injured animals that could be treated and returned to the forest. For those healthy but non-releasable birds and animals, the Moonridge Zoo became their protective new home and the Moonridge Animal Park was born. At least 200 injured wild birds and animals are treated annually at the park, and the majority are rehabilitated and released back into the wild.
According to recent statistics, the Bear Valley Unified School District has been outstanding. For the Class of 2000, 55.4% of the students had completed the coursework required for entrance into the University of California and California State University Systems. This was not only the highest among major areas of San Bernardino County, it was 15% above the second place Rim of the World District (39.7%) and far above the California average (34.8%). Big Bear Valley Recreation and Park District sponsors youth and adult sports, senior activities and also maintains parks and picnic areas.
Bear Valley Community Healthcare District offers a full range of health care and community education including Bear Valley Community Hospital and Skilled Nursing Facility, Family Health Center, Family Counseling Center and Paramedic/Ambulance Service. Bear Valley Community Hospital is fully accredited by the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations. Its services include 24-hour emergency care, acute respiratory care, inpatient medical care, in and out-patient surgery, laboratory and physical therapy. The Family Health Center provides medical care for the whole family providing physicians, nurse practitioners, physician's assistants and a licensed acupuncturist. The Family Counseling Center provides outpatient mental health services, a school-based drug and alcohol prevention program, and special education services
Though Fawnskin is a small community of about 400 residents on the beautiful, quiet North Shore of Big Bear Lake, there are still plenty of things to enjoy there. Fawnskin has a market, post office, great restaurants, antique shop, real estate office, two Bed & Breakfast Inns, and some other small businesses. The North Shore is Forest Service land, so it is mostly tall pine trees, open land, and beautiful views of the lake!
Fawnskin is said to have been named by hunters who arrived in this Holcomb Valley location in the late 1800's and found skins stretched to dry in the afternoon sun. Among the most notable visitors today are the families of golden and American Bald eagles protected in this designated habitat. Eagle habitats along the North Shore in Fawnskin are celebrated with the annual return of the golden and bald eagles from October to March.
Before skiing became an attraction, Fawnskin was once the hub of attention. It served as a stage stop initially and then a tourist village with hotels and dining. Nearly half a century ago a new road was built at the base of Big Bear Dam. Traffic arriving on the mountain from Los Angeles began turning right to Big Bear Lake instead of left to Fawnskin.
This area was for many years called Yuhaviat, which is a Serrano Indian word that means "Pine Place." Back in 1845 the name was changed when Benjamin Davis Wilson and his party entered the valley from Riverside and found it swarming with bear. In February of 1860, two prospectors, Bill Holcomb and Jack Martin arrived in Big Bear during the dead of winter. They found gold and started the gold rush in this part of the state that gave Big Bear its first population surge.
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