Golf Course, Bike Park Gear to Open

Recreation at Big Bear’s mountain resorts transitions fromSnow Summit Bike Park in Big Bear snow to summer in May, just a few weeks after one of the most successful winter seasons in recent years ended.

Bear Mountain golf course is slated to open May 20 for play with the driving range opening a week earlier on May 13. And Snow Summit’s Scenic Skychair and Adventure Park opens on May 27 for weekends only till June 17, when daily operations begin.

Adventure Park at Snow Summit will be a work in progress through summer, with several new activities on the drawing board including zip line, rock climbing wall and Euro bungee. Even if nothing is added there will still be plenty happening at Snow Summit, where the Southland’s only mountain bike park serves up gravity thrills from the top of the resort for mountain bikers and the longtime favorite Skychair thrills visitors with spectacular views and barbecue at the renovated Skyline Tap House.

Adventure Park has taken the mountain bike community by storm since it opened just three years ago with professional design by Gravity Logic. The only lift-served downhill mountain bike park in Southern California offers  freshly-cut berms, snakes and jumps plus non-dirt features like bridges, paver-lined turns and drops, long straights and switchbacks.

The long-anticipated Green Trail, which would offer beginning and low intermediate bikers a winding, gentle descent from the top of the mountain, has still not come to fruition due to environmental concerns and bureaucracy. So Snow Summit took matters into its own hands last summer and built its first gravity-fed beginner trail, Small Wonder, at the base area.

With a gentle 6% grade the whole way down and serviced by Chair 4, it’s designed to let newbies and beginners get a feel for the bike park without intimidating them, set into the forest and utilizing the same terrain beginners use in winter. Not as dramatic as the Green Trail when it’s finally built, a wide path with gradual 1,200 ft. elevation drop through the forest with awesome lake views, but Small Wonder is perfect for those just learning.

The half-mile trail offers terrain features too, from two progressive paver turns and dirt berm to baby rock garden and even small wood feature. “There’s low-level drop offs and beginner and intermediate jump lines,” said the resort’s Clayton Shoemaker. “There’s also more advanced jumps but still in the realm for learners. It’s basically smaller, less intimidating versions of everything riders find on the intermediate and advanced runs higher on the mountain.”

The Skill Builder Park features side-by-side jumps progressing from little to bigger. The laid-back environment is ideal for sharpening skills. Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays see introductory bike park clinics for beginner and intermediate along with guided cross-country rides for all levels, priced at just $39 (lift ticket extra).

Small Wonder and the Skill Builder Park join Snow Summit’s three top-to-bottom trails in helping round out its mountain bike offerings. Miracle Mile challenges the best riders with an array of sweeping S-turns plus berms, rollers, jumps and wood features including a dramatic 30-foot bridge, diving board and berm. Westridge winds through the forest with challenging riding as it cuts through the woods and across ski runs.  Party Wave is a challenging black diamond run with steep drops, banked turns, switchbacks and step ups.

Scenic Skychair continues to serve up great  cross-country riding like it always has, along rolling Forest Service roads at the top of the mountain, and now on the new Skyline Trail. Yet Skychair isn’t just for two-wheelers; two-footers have fun too, riding the sky high to the 8,200 ft. summit and then walking down the 1.4 mile Log Chute trail, reserved for hiking, as it winds in and out of the forest with great views. Or just enjoy the Mountain Top Loop, a gentle one-mile walk at the top that starts and ends at Skyline Tap House.

Sightseers also enjoy Scenic Skychair, running Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays and Memorial Day daily from 9 a.m.-4 p.m., till 5 p.m. Saturdays. Enjoy a leisurely 20-minute chairlift ride through the forest to the top of the mountain, as panoramic views of the lake, distant desert and surrounding mountains unfold. Lunch on the mountaintop Skyline Tap House outdoor sun deck is always a treat with tantalizing barbecue and what has to be the Southland’s highest horseshoe pit. Kids love to scamper around at the top, climbing rocks and chasing lizards while parents enjoy adult beverages.

Roundtrip ride $24, senior/youth $19, 12 and under free (two kids per paying adult). Add lunch for $34 and there’s a 20% discount with seven-day advance purchase. Call (844) GO-2-BEAR.

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