The Central Coast is beautiful, but let’s admit that from time to time we all like to get out of the fog, out on the road and take a trip with our canine companions. Traveling Canine reports on fantastic destinations for you and your dog.
Traveling Canine Visits Big Bear Lake
by Sharon Miller
We love living in Pacific Grove; the temperate climate, the recreation trail, the farmer’s market, the aquarium, the village-feel, Trader Joe’s, the municipal golf course, bakeries, restaurants, the kids and grandkids. And, of course, the Asilomar/Spanish Bay beach where Sparky, our three year-old terrier-mix AFRP adoptee, can romp every day with his buddies.
We also love to travel and so does Sparky. When we get to a new destination, he is excited about all the new sights and sounds, and especially the new smells. He’s a well-traveled dog now, having visited most of the western states, and campgrounds from Redding and Lake Almanor in Northern California to Palm Desert, Borrego Springs, and San Diego in Southern California.
When we didn’t have more strenuous adventures planned, Sparky enjoyed sitting outside to say hello to passing doggies, watch the ducks, or just snooze in the sun. The temperatures were quite moderate in September with the highs in the 70’s during the day. They dropped down into the 40’s at night since we were up at about 7,000 feet.
Big Bear Lake, population about 6,000, can be inundated with up to 100,000 people during the busy summer lake recreation time or the perhaps busier winter ski season. We practically had the place to ourselves during the week, although it filled up on the weekends, especially since there are special events every weekend in September: marathon and bicycle race, international film festival, cowboy music and poetry festival, and Oktoberfest.
There was something active for us to do with Sparky every day. We have a small inflatable kayak, and Sparky loves to ride up on the bow, sporting his spiffy blue life-vest and looking for fish in the depths of the lake. It’s amazing that he likes this, since he is averse to swimming at the beach, and barely gets his feet wet.
Sparky enjoyed taking long walks with us, either through town, looking at the interesting cabin architecture and smelling the flowers, or along the newly re-surfaced Pedal Path winding along 3 miles of lakeshore.
Unlike many places, dogs are permitted on the trails here, so we often put on our hiking boots and took Sparky out on the trails. There is every level of hike here, from the steep trail to Castle Rock or the longer Pine Knot Trail with its beautiful view back down to the lake, to the informative nature trails on both sides of the lake. Sparky was eager to go on any and all. We followed the regulations and kept him on his leash, which was a good idea because of the occasional horse or mountain biker, and the danger of rattlesnakes.
We picked up trail maps and other information from the beautiful Big Bear Discovery Center. Like almost everything else in town, it is very dog friendly and welcomes doggies in the building.
We love to sample the restaurants in a new town, and made a list a mile long of places we wanted to get to, a great many with pet-friendly patios. A number of the restaurants are named after their owners’ dogs, like Kujo’s in Big Bear and Rocky’s in Sky Forest on the way to nearby Lake Arrowhead.
We thoroughly enjoyed our time at Big Bear Lake with Sparky and highly recommend it as a vacation spot for dog lovers!