If you are hiking on the Pacific Crest Trail, you know that the California Tourist Guide offers ideas for nearby vacation destinations which might break up the long stretches of total wilderness. And nowhere is this more true than at Big Bear Lake, which is only 2.5 miles off the Trail. Just hike down to the village on the south shore of the lake, check into one of the dozens of excellent Big Bear lodging alternatives, and enjoy the break from the hardships of the trail.
There’s an inexpensive hostel in the main part of Big Bear village where you can stay for under $30 per night. What may seem Spartan to the visitor from Los Angeles will see downright decadent to a backpacker used to sleeping in a tent – the hostel offers hot water showers, clean sheets, comfortable common rooms, etc. But the real charm of the place is how it marries the rustic, relatively unspoiled charm of Big Bear Lake into the landscape which the hiker will understand. No honky-tonk, this summer resort respects and honors the environment, most especially the Lake, which is clean and clear year round.
Having embraced civilization enough to venture down and take local lodging in Big Bear, the PCT hiker should go the extra mile and enjoy some of the wonderful restaurants that dot the shoreline. The best values can be found in the GrizzlyCafé, famous for its plate-sized pancakes, and the Evergreen, which specializes in bacon-wrapped scallops and buttery king crab. If that doesn’t satisfy a palette tired of trail food, one can’t imagine what would.
There are, of course, other services that the long-distance hiker might like: a laundromat. A barber shop. A grocery store. A movie theatre. These may not seem special to tourists from the city, but they will be appreciated by the wilderness hiker.
After restoring and renewing the essentials – supplies and services alike — for the long-haul backpacking required by the Pacific Crest Trail, the hiker can check out of their Big Bear lodging and walk back up the mountain to the PCT and resume their trek, happy for having had the break.