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A dog-friendly guide to Big Bear

Mimi the dog taking a break on a trail high above Big Bear Lake Photo by Eric Van Eyke

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

The writer and his dog boating on the lake

Photo by Eric Van Eyke

What to do with your pet in Big Bear

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.

Mimi the dog sleeping after a long day of activity

Photo by Eric Van Eyke

Where to eat with your pet in Big Bear

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.

Where to stay with your pet in Big Bear

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;

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AAA Travel Alert: Many travel destinations have implemented COVID-19–related restrictions. Before making travel plans, check to see if hotels, attractions, cruise lines, tour operators, restaurants, and local authorities have issued health and safety-related restrictions or entry requirements. The local tourism board is a good resource for updated information.

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