In 1845 the valley where Big Bear Lake is now located was discovered by the extraordinary frontiersman Benjamin Davis Wilson. Indians raids led Wilson and some 80 armed men on an expedition where they came upon a lake and swamp area (Lake Baldwin) filled with bear. It was not until 1884, when a dam us built that Big Bear Lake was formed.
Clean air, blue skies, mountain lakes, challenging trails, and beautiful views of the valley below are some of the surprises awaiting visitors to the San Bernardino Mountains. During the spring and fall, clouds cover the valley floor, and the mountains are bathed in sunlight. The lush green forest slopes are like islands rising above the sea of civilization.
Most of the mountaintop is public land. The Forest Service is the largest land manager, but there are also state and county parks. Over twenty thousand people make their home here, and the resorts of Arrowhead and Big Bear attract thousands of visitors. There are also deer, bighorn sheep, mountain lions, coyotes, bald eagles and hawks. Most of the trout in the streams are placed there each year, but in a few remote areas native trout swim in the cold, fresh creeks.
Recreations on Big Bear include a variety of camping and fishing options, motorized vehicular use, picnicking, swimming, canoeing, bird watching, nature study, wildlife and wildflower observation. Forest visitors on the San Bernardino, Cleveland, Angeles and Los Padres National Forests of Southern California are required to purchase an Adventure Pass and display it on their vehicle when parked in the Forest.
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