The Ski Mountain
One of two ski areas in Southern California’s Big Bear Lake area, Snow Summit is a popular resort for the region’s beginners and infrequent skiers, and those staying in ski shape for ventures to larger terrains. The mountain’s small landscape, only 240 skiable acres with 1,200 feet of vertical drop, is a great place to test the waters and see if skiing is your jive. Fifty-five percent of Snow Summit is designated for beginners and intermediates while the remainder is advanced terrain. Most of Snow Summit’s runs are wide open cruisers with steady pitches. Snow conditions are usually consistent across the mountain due to their ability to make and groom snow on every run.
The Mountain Experience
Woven into the Southern California lifestyle of being able to be on the beach in the morning and be on the ski mountain after lunch, Snow Summit exudes a down to earth and easy going vibe. The staff and mountain policy reflect this relaxed perspective, knowing the majority of their clientele are beginners. The large ski school specializes in first-time lessons. You won’t find hot-doggin’ ski bums hogging the mountain. The lack of lavish condos and amenities offer an endearing and authentic experience that doesn’t appear to be determined by the resort’s bottom line. As example of the no-frills experience, its common to ride from the parking lot to the base in the back of a large ‘Snow Summit’ pickup truck.
Snow Summit Ski Terrain
• Beginner: One of the most popular trails to test your newly minted skills is Summit Run. A well groomed, slow skiing trail with mellow pitches and zero obstacles, Summit Run leads from the peak to the base so you have plenty of time to rest and reset. The majority of beginners and first timers try here first after mastering the Beginner’s Area.
Note: During high traffic times, crowds of beginners can clog Summit Run, so if you’re feeling confident, try Miracle Mile, a long but simple blue that’s groomed and wide open.
Current Snow Conditions
• Intermediate: Timber Ridge and Log Chute are on the far side of the mountain (skier’s left), and as a result, see less attention and hold better snow. Both trails are wide with trees flanking either side giving them a more secluded feel. Access these trails from the East Mountain Express or Chair 7.
• Advanced: Of the three runs that are marked expert (The Wall, Olympic and Side Chute), you’ll find The Wall to be most challenging due to its steep pitch. Snow can be scarce on The Wall if it’s windblown or if several skiers and boards have scraped the goods downhill. Olympic sits in the same bowl as The Wall but is a bit narrower and shorter. Its pitch is more gradual posing a good challenge for progressing skiers. A few short advanced runs are Log Chute, Side Chute and Tommy’s, each found off Chair 10.
• Terrain Park: Most of the mountain’s park features live on trails Westridge, ZZYZX and Ego Trip. Show off your style on the several beginner to intermediate jibs, jumps and hips that inhabit the area. For a long line of features, ride the All Mountain Express and lap Westridge. The Family Park is located off Chair nine with three distinct runs that contain many beginner feature on trails designated as slow skiing zones.
Understand that Snow Summit is a beginner’s mountain and patience is key. Most everyone is here to learn and have a good time. If you’re more advanced than most here, stick to Chairs 6 and 7 or visit a more challenging mountain.
When driving up from LA, take the lesser-traveled Highway 38. Absence of crowds more than make up for the extra miles and hairpin turns.. If you’re renting equipment and price matters, do it in the city, as you’ll likely find better prices than on the mountain and can head straight for the slopes when you arrive at the hill.
Speaking of equipment – bring layers that will work on warmer days. You’re in Southern California; it will be warm during the day, but morning and afternoon bring a slight chill. A light, breathable jacket and fleece are the way to go. Also, leave your fat skis at home. You won’t have much fun trying to smear powder skis on hardpack and groomers.
Grab a drink at Slopeside Pub at the base area, where you can watch skiers and boarders through the large windows or from their sunny deck. Later in the evening go for a stroll in the Village (the main strip in Big Bear Lake), where you’ll find several restaurants and bars to suit any taste.
Big Bear Lake. As Southern California’s version of Lake Tahoe, though not as grand in size, this village is encased by pine forest, two ski areas and sits on a scenic lake.
Nearby lodging provides for several quaint, charming, and decently priced Bed and Breakfasts. The Inn at Fawnskin and Eagles Nest are two favorites among out-of-towners. Both feature traditional log construction. Rooms are adorned with fireplaces and rustic décor. The suites at Fawnskin are spacious and luxurious, while Eagles Nest offers cozy B&B guest rooms, cottage suites and cabin rentals. Use the “Explore Big Bear’s Best Lodging Deals” box above and right to find the nearest Snow Summit lodging choices that best fit you.SKI TERRAINSNOW CONDITIONSTERRAIN PARK
Skiing With Kids
This mountain, by design or divine intervention, is a great place to start the kids out skiing. The wide-open terrain and easy runs suit the first-time munchkins. The ski school offers a variety of lessons, from groups to camps to individual sessions. All ages are covered as well.
Lift Tickets Cost
Lift ticket rates are the same as for Snow Summit, allowing you to get into both mountains with one ticket! See LIFT TICKET PRICES HERE.
A California Season Pass is now available, offering admittance to Mammoth, June, Bear, and Snow Summit Mountains!
By Zach Lambros