Dog-Friendly Big Bear

Pooches can sniff out squirrels on mountain trails, doggie paddle in Big Bear Lake, and score canine treats at Big Bear shops and restaurants

Tucked in San Bernardino National Forest, Big Bear Lake is a playground for people and pooches. 


A great first stop is the Big Bear Discovery Center, the unofficial hub for activities in Big Bear Valley. Pick up maps and information about the area's extensive network of dog-friendly hiking trails and other weekend happenings as well as an Adventure Pass ($5 per day), which is required if you plan to venture into the national forest. 909-866-3437 or 909-382-2790;

The Alpine Pedal Path, accessible from the Discovery Center parking lot, is a 2.5-mile paved trail that winds through towering ponderosa and Jeffrey pines. A more challenging trek that's also accessible from the parking lot is the Cougar Crest Trail, which gets a bit rocky after the first half mile but eventually connects to the Pacific Crest National Scenic Trail. Or venture just off the paved Pedal Path and through the Serrano Campground to stroll along Big Bear Lake's north shore near Meadows Edge Picnic Area.

Water-loving dogs are right at home at Captain John's Fawn Harbor and Marina, where all rentals—from stand-up paddleboards, canoes, and kayaks to pontoon and speed boats—allow furry riders onboard. Captain John also offers dog-friendly, two-hour tours of the mountain lake via electric-powered boats. For landlubbers, the sandy beach and grassy picnic area at the marina provide a scenic place to hang out and watch the hounds at play. 909-866-6478;

At The Bath Workshop, dogs get a free treat while their humans peruse many products for themselves, as well as all-natural and sulfate-free pet shampoos and the moisturizing pet perfumes, which have aloe and botanical extracts that nourish and condition the skin and fur. 909-366-0143;


Grab a table on one of the Grizzly's Bear Belly Deli and Café's two cozy patios, where your dog will be served a biscuit and a bowl of water. Create your own sandwich or choose from the menu: The TAB is a tasty turkey, avocado, and crispy bacon concoction. 909-585-4266;


Grey Squirrel Resort and Vacation Rental Homes, just south of Big Bear Lake, has 19 cabins, most with kitchens, flat-screen TVs, and fireplaces. Amenities include a swimming pool, a large fire pit, and several grassy areas with doggie waste stations nearby. Rates start at $99; pet fee is $10 per pet, per night. 800-381-5569;

Top photo: Mimi takes a break on a trail high above Big Bear Lake. | Eric Van Eyke / Westways Creative Director

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