Located in the San Bernardino Mountains, Big Bear is a city completely surrounded by national forest, making it quite the recreational hot spot for hiking, mountain biking, and horseback riding during the summer season. However, for the last 20 or so years, there hasn't been any new trail infrastructure. This week, that changes.
On Saturday, officials will mark the opening of the Skyline Trail, an 8.4-mile one-way trail that begins behind Snow Summit Mountain Resort and follows the southern ridgeline that makes up Big Bear Valley (roundtrip distance is 16.8 miles). It's part of a planned loop that will eventual go 15 miles for hikers, bikers, and horseback riders (and snowshoeing in the winter).
"From my understanding this is the first new trail introduced to Big Bear in over two decades," said Big Bear Valley Trails Foundation Chair Phil Hamilton, whose group looks to make the valley friendly to non-motorized recreation. The single-track trail mainly parallels 2N10, a heavily used Forest Service road. "We thought it would sure be good to get hikers off that road onto the trail," he said. "It sort of started as a joke, and then we thought we could do this."
Down a long stretch of dirt road off the 395 between Mammoth Lakes and Lake Tahoe is Bodie, a ghost town preserved in a state of arrested decay. It's a fascinating place -- surprisingly large, too -- with history going beyond its Wild West heydey in late 1870s. Now operated as a state park, some 200,000 people visit each year.
The six or so major wildfires burning in California right now should be a good reminder to always be fire safe when out and about in nature, especially during these extremely dry years. Granted, sometimes these are caused by natural causes like lighting, but a lot of times not.
"Could not believe it on August 1," exclaimed Richard McCutcheon. He had noticed some Indian Ruhbarb along Plumas County's Butt Creek that had already begun to turn color, so he snapped a photo and sent it off to the California Fall Color blog for its first post of the season.
California is not exactly known for fall color, but we're definitely blessed with it. While the East Coast's densely populated areas are already centered in arboreal environments, California's heavy urban centers are focused on the coast, away from the main attractions found in the Sierra Nevadas. It's not that you won't find fall color in our coastal cities, it's just not the spectacular event found out east. East as in the eastern California: Mammoth Lakes, Bishop, June Lake, Virginia Lakes, and so on.
When it comes to camping, nothing is more classic than s'mores, cooked over an open fire while surrounded by family and friends. Popularized by the Girl Scouts in the late 1920s, the simple treat hasn't lost public interest and, in fact, is constantly tinkered with, as evident by all the campfire -- and chef-driven restaurant -- variations out there.
National S'mores Day is annually celebrated on August 10, but let's be honest: Every time you camp should be a day to celebrate and munch on these addictive treats -- that's why you always want "some more," right?
Below is a short, (extremely) simple guide to s'mores at the campfire.
Backpacker magazine's latest issue took a stab at naming the best view each state has to offer, and Channel Islands National Park in Southern California beat out Yosemite, Death Valley, and plenty of other logical spots for their pick. I think it's a great choice.
Whenever I talk to people about Channel Islands, I pull out my smartphone and start scrolling through my photos. There are a lot of "oohs" and "ahhhs" at the views of Santa Cruz Island, which I photographed while on hikes and kayaking trips, but the biggest wide-eyed moment is when a photo from neighboring Anacapa Island comes up.
Three hours from the bright lights of Los Angeles, Borrego Springs can lay claim to something other communities cannot: its nighttime wonder. In 2009, the town became the second in the world to be certified as a dark sky community by the International Dark-Sky Association. Not bad for an already beautiful desert town, which is totally surrounded by Anza-Borrego, the biggest state park in California.
No wonder filmmaker Gavin Heffernan, fresh of the success of his two dark sky time-lapse videos of Death Valley (a certified dark sky park), was attracted to this San Diego County town. But Borrego Springs, once again, offers something other communities can't: serpents, scorpions, dinosaurs, and so much more.
A portion of a popular talus cave in Pinnacles National Park reopened this morning after biologists found that a colony of protected bats had left. That means hikers can go in, explore the lower portion of Bear Gulch Cave, and exit on the other side toward the Moses Spring Trail and Bear Gulch Reservoir.
Townsend's big-eared bats are considered a "sensitive species" by California, which requires the park to protect them. Every year, a colony, considered the largest between Mexico and the Bay Area, uses the cave to winter and raise their young into the summer.
If you took all the trails in the world and boiled it down to a list of 20, what would make the cut? National Geographic asked "20 outdoor luminaries ... about the trails they dream about" and published the results earlier this month.
Usually, Yosemite National Park makes such lists -- and it sort of made it this time, too. But only because these two trails go through the park via two much longer adventures: the Pacific Crest Trail and the Sierra High Route.
A volunteer died at Anacapa Island yesterday afternoon when he was boarding a boat bound for to the mainland. Joe Wysocki, 65, fell off one of dock's three ladders into the water, sustaining a serious head injury in the process, according to the National Park Service.
"We don't know the actual cause of the fall -- that's under investigation." said park spokesperson Yvonne Menard. She said it was a calm day on the waters and that a staffer was next to him as the captain looked on. "We have very clear safety protocols for loading and unloading."