With cooler fall temperatures and the promise of colorful changing leaves and foliage, a ride up into our southern California mountains should be at the top of your destinations. There’s nothing quite like turning off the freeway and heading up into higher elevations, twisty mountain roads and pine-scented fresh air.
Lake Arrowhead and Big Bear are located in the San Bernadino mountain range and are within easy riding distance of most southern California locations. Coming from Orange County, head north on CA-57 then continue east on CA-60, then north again on CA-15 and east on CA-210 before hitting CA-18, known as the “Rim of the World” highway for its breathtaking views of the valley below. Be aware of heavy traffic on weekends and that the area is regularly patrolled by the CHP and local police, so watch your speed. Riding time is approximately an hour and a half.
Lake Arrowhead is a lovely mountain town with the charm of an Alpine village. Although Lake Arrowhead itself is privately owned, Lake Gregory draws fishermen, nature lovers and water skiers in the summer months while the two villages, Lake Arrowhead and Blue Jay, offer shopping and dining in abundance. From May until September, the Summer Concert Series entertains locals and visitors alike with quality tribute bands that cover nearly every important artist from the Beatles, Doors, Led Zeppelin and Pink Floyd to Depeche Mode and Garth Brooks. Concerts are free and take place on the main stage in Lake Arrowhead Village. In October, the town puts on one of the best Octoberfests in southern California. Be sure and visit Wildhaven Ranch sanctuary, home to indigenous critters that are unable to live in the wild anymore.
My local friend recommends several restaurants to eat at including Hortencia’s Mexican Restaurant, LouEddie’s Pizza and The Grill at Antlers Inn. If you plan on staying overnight, accommodations can be booked through Lake Arrowhead Retreats (Arrowhead Retreats ).
If you intend to head to Big Bear also, you’ll need to get back onto CA-18 and then CA-38, a nice scenic highway that at one point achieves the distinction of being one of the highest roads in southern California. Big Bear is about another hour and a half ride from Lake Arrowhead.
Big Bear Lake offers all manner of water sports from kayaking to paddle boarding and, of course, fishing. In addition, the town offers visitors hiking, parasailing, helicopter rides, horseback riding, golf and even bowling. Big Bear is home to one of the country’s only alpine solar observatories and there is a zoo, too!
Fun and delicious dining can be had all over the village from Noble Roman’s Pizza, Big Bear Mountain Brewery, The Peppercorn Grille and The Cave where live music sets the pace every weekend.
Both Lake Arrowhead and Big Bear offer hiking and camping, but you’ll need to obtain a California Adventure Pass which can be purchased at the Lake Arrowhead Ranger Station or Visitors Center and some local businesses.
If you are looking for the perfect escape from the city, Big Bear and Lake Arrowhead are the perfect destinations for a day or weekend trip. And with the beautiful scenery and fresh mountain air, getting there on a motorcycle is a big part of the pleasure.
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