Big Bear Discovery Center

Big Bear Discovery CenterLake tours at Big Bear Discovery Center

BIG BEAR DISCOVERY CENTER–Big Bear recreation destination with forest information, Adventure Passes and Wilderness Permits available at the visitor center located on the north shore of the lake. Naturalist-guided snowshoe tours in winter, lake and off-road exploration in the summer, plus weekend nature walks, craft programs, campfire talks and more. Hiking trail and camping information plus Adventure Outpost gift shop. Open 8:30 a.m.-4:30 p.n.(closed Tuesday and Wednesday)

40971 North Shore Dr. (Hwy. 38) * Fawnskin, CA (909) 382-2790    Big Bear Discovery Center website

Memorial Day Kicks off Busy 2016 Season

Memorial Day weekend sees the official kickoff of the busy summer season at Big Bear Discovery Center, with gold panning, guided walks and more.

It all adds up to a busy month at Discovery Center, Big Bear’s recreation destination and the place to find everything from local hiking information and maps to Wilderness permits and Adventure Passes.

Every Saturday from 1 and 2 p.m., and Sunday at 11 a.m. and noon, there’s free Nature Walks around Discovery Center’s forested grounds with a naturalist, 30-minute adventures perfect for the family. Saturdays also see free Nature Crafts projects at 10:30 a.m. for ages 5 and up.

Children experience the forest firsthand in an outdoor “classroom” just for them at Discovery Center. Ages 2-7 delight in the Nature Discovery Zone—first one in the National Forest system—which combines education and unstructured play areas just for youngsters. Nine interactive areas encourage outdoor exploration. In addition a half-mile interpretive loop adjacent to Nature Discovery Zone has been built, stroller-friendly for a forest walk the whole family can enjoy.

“Nature Discovery Zone is an outdoor adventure space designed to enhance nature play and exploration while connecting children to nature,” said Stacy Gorin of Southern California Mountains Foundation. The areas let kids climb and crawl, build and dig, gather and enjoy quiet time, plus there’s Pollinator Pathway, Messy Materials and Music and Movement.

To view wildflowers that grow in Big Bear and nowhere else in the world, head east from Discovery Center along the north shore to Baldwin Lake Ecological Reserve. Open Saturdays 10 a.m.-2 p.m. through June 25, the facility is staffed by volunteers in a partnership between San Bernardino National Forest Association and Fish and Game Dept. and there’s information on what’s blooming on the unique Pebble Plain, plus trail guides for the adjacent interpretive path. Naturalists lead guided hikes through the reserve each Saturday at 11:30 a.m.

Help regrow the forest by getting your hands dirty during the Greenthumbs native plant restoration volunteer day held by the Forest Service on May 21. Volunteers meet at predetermined locations to work for the Forest Service’s long-running forest program, expanded beyond just Big Bear to include the entire San Bernardino Mountains.

Workdays last from 9 a.m.-3 p.m.  Bring a sack lunch, water, sunscreen, hat, jacket and work gloves if you have some. Call (909) 382-2828 for meeting location one to two weeks in advance of workday. 2016 Greenthumbs Days are June 18, July 16, August 20, September 17 and 24, and October 15.

Discovery Center celebrates International Migratory Bird Day Saturday, May 14 with an array of bird-related activities for the whole family. Build your own well-designed bird house from 10 a.m.-noon for $6 per kit, a fun activity for the entire family sponsored by Butcher’s Block. Build a Birdhouse is also on May 28.

Evening Programs featuring forest information return most Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m. starting May 27. There’s campfires, singalongs, Ranger Talks and much more during the hour-long sessions under the stars. Suggested donation $5.

The holiday weekend is when summer really takes off at Discovery Center. Saturday, May 28  sees the return of popular family activities at Discovery Center including Gold Panning for youngsters from 10 a.m.-noon. The “gold” that fills their pans is really just pyrite, but kids love to swirl sand and water just like miners did 150 years ago in Holcomb Valley during Southern California’s largest gold rush. Kids take their findings home with them along with an informational handout, included in the $3 fee.