In any season, a drive to Big Bear Lake through the San Bernardino National Forest is a wonderful experience. Winding roads cascading through hills that and mountains with amazing vistas of the California basin. Then, you arrive in a destination totally unique from the bustling cities below. Wooden sculptures line the streets, the smell of fresh pine permeates, and a town decorated with rustic cabins and lodges welcomes your arrival.

Leave No Trace logo

Plan Ahead and Prepare

  • Know the regulations and special concerns for the area you you’ll visit
  • Prepare for extreme weather, hazards, and emergencies
  • Schedule your trip to avoid times of high use
  • Visit in small groups when possible. Consider splitting larger groups into smaller groups
  • Repackage food to minimize waste
  • Use a map and compass to eliminate the use of marking paint, rock cairns or flagging

Leave What You Find

  • Preserve the past: examine, but do not touch cultural or historic structures and artifacts
  • Leave rocks, plants and other natural objects as you find them
  • Avoid introducing or transporting non-native species
  • Do not build structures, furniture, or dig trenches

Travel and Camp on Durable Surfaces

  • Durable surfaces include established trails and campsites, rock, gravel, dry grass or snow
  • Protect riparian areas by camping at least 200 feet from the lakes and streams
  • Good campsites are found, not made. Altering a site is not necessary

In popular areas:

  • Concentrate use on existing trails and campsites
  • Walk single file in the middle of the trail, even when wet or muddy
  • Keep Campsite small. Focus activity in areas where vegetation is absent

In pristine areas:

  • Disperse use to prevent the creation of campsites and trails
  • Avoid places where impacts are just beginning

Minimize Campfire Impacts

  • Campfires can cause lasting impacts to the environment. Use a lightweight stove for cooking and enjoy a candle lantern for light
  • Where fires are permitted, use established fire rings, fire pans, or mound fires
  • Keep fires small. Only use sticks from the ground that can be broken by hand
  • Burn all wood and coals to ash, put out campfires completely, then scatter cool ashes

Respect Wild Life

  • Observe wildlife from a distance. Do not follow or approach them
  • Never feed animals. Feeding wildlife damages their health, alters natural behaviors and exposes them to predators and dangers
  • Protect wildlife and your food by sorting rations and trash securely
  • Control pets at all times, or leave them at home
  • Avoid wildlife during sensitive times: mating, nesting, raising young, or winter

Dispose of waste properly

  • Pack it in, pack it out. Inspect your campsite and rest areas for trash or spilled foods. Pack out all trash, leftover food and litter
  • Deposit solid human waste in catholes dug 6 to 8 inches deep, at least 200 feet from the water, camp and trails. Cover and disguise the cathole when finished
  • Pack out toilet paper and hygiene products
  • To wash yourself or your dishes, carry water 200 feet away from streams or lakes and use small amounts of biodegradable soap. Scatter strained dishwater

Be Considerate of other Visitors

  • Respect other visitors and protect the quality of their experience
  • Be courteous. Yield to other users on the trail
  • Step to the downhill side of the trail when encountering pack stock
  • Take breaks and camp away from trails and other visitors
  • Let nature’s sounds prevail. Avoid loud voices and noises

A Message From Big Bear Lake Students