A boy in a red jacket runs through the grass near Big Bear Lake.

Hiking with Little Ones!

Posted: 01/29/20 | By Meg Kee

Introducing your youngest family members to the wonders of nature!

As a child, my most fond memories are from those family camping trips, catching fish and hiking to the top of the tallest hill to see the views. As a mother now, I realize all of the hard work my parents put forth to get me out to experience the world. “Mother Nature is the best teacher." I say this now frequently as I watch my son run through the fields. His moments of discovery, independence, self-value and sense of confidence blossoms without pressure of the outside world.

Once my son was born, my days of hiking the long strenuous trails had to change. A new pace, one I like to call, “the pace of nature”, transpired. I began getting creative, finding the best places in our hometown of Big Bear Lake to bring a child. Places that would be safe, fun for him, and fun for me. Over time, I have discovered these amazing spots and would love to share some of them with you, so that you and your family can share a space to grow and explore here in the mountains.

Woodland Trail, 1.6 mile loop

When to visit: Spring - Fall

Woodland Trail is an easy, lakeside hike on a forest trail. Sixteen posts/trail markers (Bear Paws) line your path and offer fun discoveries at each post. The opportunity to learn about wildlife, geology, and the local plants pops up around every corner. Make sure to grab a trail map at the Visitor Center - or look online for the trail brochure - with all details for each Bear Paw post to read to your kids as you stroll through. I found this trail helpful in those “are we there yet” moments - you know there are sixteen posts, so you can easily judge how far you are from the finish if the kids (or you) are tired.

Champion Lodgepole Pine, 1/2 mile walk

When to visit: Late Spring - Early Fall

Want to feel like you are really off the grid? This experience is a must-do. The Champion Lodgepole Pine happens to be the largest tree in Big Bear Lake. Parking is near the Bluff Lake preserve, so this trail is not all about the trees as you walk past a beautiful hidden lake on top of the mountain. Be sure to pick up an Adventure Pass for parking. You must not be afraid to get your car dirty, you will be cruising down some dirt roads for about a mile or so to get to parking. This trail is an absolute gem, you will never forget your moments here!

Trout Alley Beach on the Lake

When to visit: Spring - Fall

I might regret telling you this later, this is our favorite spot to hang during the summer months. Trout Alley Beach (or Pine Oak Lane North Beach) offers a sandy beach-like setting for a day on the lake. Great spot to fish from the shore, lay out, build castles and splash around. Enjoy glorious mountain views where you’re shielded from the wind and have shallow, safe little coves for the small ones. My son and I could live here all summer. I am trusting you though, this is our secret - don’t tell anyone else about it! If you want to fish, be sure to get your fishing license beforehand. What a blessing it is to have such wonderful outdoor playgrounds.

These places are pure magic! To keep our freedoms out here in nature alive, while you’re here, please join me and others in practicing Leave No Trace ethics. If we all join in together, we can ensure a future for our grandchildren to enjoy the same beauty. One thing I personally love to do is bring small biodegradable trash bags to the trails with us and pick up trash. The kids LOVE it!! It’s like a treasure hunt. Instilling these practices in our children at a young age is a true benefit to nature conservation. I hope to see you out there! Happy Trails!

For more hiking trails in Big Bear Lake, click here.

Meg Kee (35) a Southern California native, has lived in Big Bear Lake over twelve years. She is a mother, avid hiker, rock climbing guide, trail host volunteer, certified Wilderness First Responder and founder of @mountaingirls outdoor community.