Man jumps in the street in The Village | Big Bear Lake

Top 12 Instagram-Worthy Locations in Big Bear

Posted: 05/04/20

Whether you’re looking for picture-perfect landscapes or one-of-a-kind backdrops for your family vacation shots, Big Bear’s spectacular mountain setting promises insta-worthy sights around every corner!

Hiker poses on a rock | Big Bear Lake

1. Castle Rock Trail

One of Big Bear’s iconic hiking trails, Castle Rock Trail, is known for a steep approach leading through the forest, past a hidden waterfall and a stretch of boulder outcroppings - each one better than the last. The views from the top are nothing short of spectacular. This is a “must-see” and easy to fit into the busiest of sightseeing schedules.

Set out from the trailhead from Highway 18 and follow the path alongside a seasonal creek. You’ll find yourself stopping for photos along the way to capture the tall pines and boulder formations. After a mile or so, you’ll wind around the backside of Castle Rock and find the sweet spot to scramble up the impressive granite rocks for the most insta-worthy photos and spectacular 360-degree views.

Big Bear Alpine Pedal Path | Big Bear Lake

2. Alpine Pedal Path

Meandering along the North Shore of Big Bear Lake, the paved Alpine Pedal Path is easily accessible to everyone. From hikers and bikers to strollers and joggers – it’s the perfect spot for a scenic photoshoot. During winter, around sunset, you can see Snow Summit from across the lake turn on the lights for a truly magical scene.

Start at the east end of Big Bear Lake at Stanfield Cutoff, and follow the paved path along the shoreline for stellar lake views. You’ll pass Juniper Point, Meadows Edge Picnic Area, Serrano Campground, and Big Bear Solar Observatory. Keep your eyes to the skies for eagle sightings from Juniper Point onward. The choices are endless when it comes to picturesque photo points.

Bluff Lake Reserve

3. Bluff Lake Reserve and the Champion Lodgepole Pine

Bluff Lake Reserve is part of the National Old Growth Forest Network. It features a 20-acre alpine lake tucked into a forest of towering pines, majestic boulder outcroppings, and is a stone’s throw from the Champion Lodgepole Pine.

Explore this pristine, 80-acre reserve from May through November, when the area is at its most picturesque – with spring and summer wildflowers followed by brilliant fall foliage. Among its numerous insta-worthy highlights are the remains of the original settlers cabin and the easy-to-climb boulders that surround it. Hikers and dogs on leash are welcome . . . no bikes allowed.

Mountain Biking | Big Bear Lake

4. Action Shots at Snow Summit Bike Park

Southern California's premier lift-served bike park has received nothing but warm welcomes from bike enthusiasts from up and down the state. This growing summer attraction offers terrain for all levels of riders and is fast becoming one of Big Bear's most insta-worthy locations! Hairpin turns, rock gardens, steeps, and jump features offer some spectacular photo ops - just be sure not to push your skill level for the perfect gram! If biking isn't your jam, the new Log Chute Hiking Trail winds through Snow Summit's lush hills and wildflower scenery, a perfect backdrop for any snapshot.

People ride the Scenic Sky Chair | Big Bear Lake, CA

5. Panoramic vistas from the Scenic Sky Chair

For the most breathtaking valley views in town, hop aboard the Scenic Sky Chair. Ascending through the beautiful San Bernardino National Forest to the top of Snow Summit, this mile-long ride affords some of the best views of Big Bear Lake.

Open to hikers, mountain bikers and sightseers throughout Spring, Summer and Fall, it’s an alpine adventure not to be missed – whatever season you visit. Buy your tickets more than 72 hours in advance for great online discounts and don’t forget your camera!

6. Off-road selfies on a Big Bear Jeep Experience tour

Follow the guide Jeep on a one-of-a-kind adventure through some of Big Bear Valley’s most spectacular, and hard to access, landscapes. The Big Bear Jeep Experience is an adventure for the whole family – and a great way to get unique shots off the tourist trail.

Choose from rock-crawling, kid-friendly and sightseeing tours, and get behind the wheel for a white knuckle ride across Big Bear’s network of off-road jeep trails. From old mining settlements to secluded mountaintops, there’s plenty to see – and photograph – along the way.

Ziplining | Big Bear Lake, CA

7. High-speed GoPro or hands-free cameras at Action Zipline

Located at the heart of the San Bernardino National Forest, don’t miss flying through the treetops on 9 different ziplines, during a 3-hour tour with Action Zipline. Suspended 85’ above the forest floor, ranging from 140-860’ in length, and reaching speeds of up to 45 mph, this fun, family-friendly activity guarantees smiles all around.

With tours available, every day of the year, book ahead for this high altitude adventure, and keep your hands-free cameras and your GoPros at the ready!

The Pines Lakefront Restaurant | Big Bear Lake, CA

8. Waterside dining at The Pines Lakefront

The only Big Bear restaurant to sit right on the lake, The Pines Lakefront boasts some of the best sunset views in town – along with live piano music on Thursday nights and delicious gourmet cuisine from its award-winning chef.

In the summertime, cruise up to one of its complimentary boat slips and dine on the outdoor terrace or the heated garden patio. Wherever you sit, the lake views are hard to beat – providing the perfect backdrop for a romantic getaway photo.

9. Native wildlife at Big Bear Zoo

Home to more than 160 animals, Big Bear Alpine Zoo is a fascinating place to get up close to the region’s native wildlife. From mountain lions to grizzly bears to bobcats, families of all ages will love spending a few hours here.

Capture the mama grizzly taking care of her young, record the black bears at play, and practice your portrait skills on everything from wolves to bald eagles to raccoons. For budding photographers and kids alike, this is an excellent introduction to mountain wildlife.

Pirate ship sets sail | Big Bear Lake, CA

10. Swashbucklin’ scenes aboard the Big Bear Pirate Ship

From May through October, climb aboard the Big Bear Pirate Ship for a swashbucklin’ adventure tour of Big Bear Lake. This replica of an authentic 16th Century Spanish Galleon is a one-of-a-kind vessel, and jam-packed with unique photo ops.

Explore above and below deck as you voyage out towards the dam, and enjoy plenty of stories, anecdotes and entertaining jokes along the way – courtesy of the captain. A great way to spend a sunny afternoon in Big Bear.

Big Bear Lake | Big Bear Lake, CA

11. The Big Bear Dam

The Big Bear Dam is a beautiful alpine lake backdrop for your best vacation selfies. During any season, sunrise and sunset are popular times for a shoot. For the best insta-worthy shots, a summer afternoon selfie will capture all the boats, jet skiers and kayakers playing on the lake in the background.

A snowy San Gorgonio in the distance | Big Bear Lake, CA

12. Cougar Crest Trail To PCT

Hike up Cougar Crest Trail on the North Shore of Big Bear Lake to get oodles of stunning photo ops. From the upper section of the trail, you’ll get panoramic views of the lake and ski slopes with Mount San Gorgonio in the background. Early spring is the best time to capture the snow-capped peaks of the South Shore while the wildflowers along the sunnier North Shore are just beginning to bloom.

Once you arrive at the top of Cougar Crest Trail you will see the PCT (Pacific Crest Trail) sign. Take a moment to appreciate the fact that hikers from all over the world pass through here each year on their 2,600-mile trek to Canada. Snap a pic or two of you and your friends beside the sign before you head back down.

Big Bear is the perfect place for your next adventure. Many excursions are available to be booked directly on our site. Grab your phone and get ready for the pictures and the memories! You can also find more information through our Visitors Guide.

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