Snowshoe the Bear Big Bear Lake


Atlas Snowshoes from Goldsmith's Board House


Did you know Snowshoe the Bear is this Saturday, February, 6. The event welcomes both experts and complete novices. It starts in the Big Bear Lake Village at 8:00 AM and goes out into the San Bernardino National Forest. There is a fully marked five and ten kilometer course. Enjoy fun, family atmosphere and live music.

I’ve never been snowshoeing, and I wondered what our conditions were like (besides the obvious four foot base of snow). I wanted to know; did the snow support the snowshoes, how well do the shoes grip the snow, and how fast could I walk.

I went over to Goldsmith’s Board House (909 866-2728) in Big Bear Lake and rented a pair. I found out there are basically three types of snowshoes;

  1. Running –smaller size for aerobic exercise, not practical for serious long term snow travel.
  2. Recreational –better in the back country, slightly larger than the running ones.
  3. Mountaineering – made for serious outdoor travel and for long distance. These snowshoes can be up to 30 inches long by 10 inches wide.

Snowshoes for running have fixed rotation bindings which bring the back of shoe up with each step, allowing faster movement.  When you find the pair you want make sure you can easily manipulate the straps and securely lock your boot into the snowshoes.

I strapped myself into the snowshoes and was surprised how easy it was to walk in them. I didn’t use the polls. I noticed the crampon cleats were on the balls of my feet. I switched my balance from the heels to the front and was able to move at a good speed.

When I walked on a path that had already been broken, I didn’t leave much of an impression. When I went out into untracked snow, my snowshoes left a three inch deep track (see video). I fell through once. I walked too close to a bush…we have so much snow, you can’t see the bushes!

Goldsmith’s carry Atlas snowshoes, including poles and pack, for under $200. While you’re there, you may want to pick up a good pair of sunglasses or goggles. Ask for Ashley, she helped us and is very knowledgeable. She can hook you up with clothing, boots, anything you need for high altitude recreation.

FACT: The first snowshoes in North America are attributed to the Huron and the Algonquin Indians.

10k Course Description: Begin on Village Drive in front of Paoli’s Restaurant.  Turn right/south on Knickerbocker.  Turn left/east on Forest Road 2N08. Continue on Forest Road 2N08 to trail 1E01.  Turn left/south on 1E01 to Deer Group Camp.  Turn right on the Deer Group Camp access road (from the middle of the camp) to Forest Road 2N08.  Turn right/east on Forest Road 2N08 and continue to the village via the same path.

5k Course Description: Begin on Village Drive in front of Paoli’s Restaurant.  Turn right/south on Knickerbocker.  Turn left/east on Forest Road 2N08.  Turn left/east on Towne Trail (marked with Boulders).  Turn around at beginning of Summit Condos.  Return via the same path.

Additional Resources;

Snowshoeing in the San Jacinto Mountains; Several people took the tram and then asended to the top of the mountain. They shot several great videos. The snow conditions are very much like our mountains.

Snow Report Big Bear– Updated snow conditions for Big Bear Mountain Resorts, Snow Valley, Mount Baldy, Mountain High and Mammoth Mountain.

Snowboard & Ski Rentals– Goldsmith’s Boardhouse and Ski Rentals is what we recommend. They have been fitting skiis, adjusting boards forever! Their staff is knowledgable and can shred with the best. Work with people who love the sport!

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  1. Did you have fun in the Big Bear? That sounds good.

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