Fishing with Coyotes and Hiking Cougar Crest Trail ~ Big Bear

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Memorial weekend we headed to Big Bear with another family for a fun weekend in the mountains.  We didn’t have any plans except fishing one day and hiking another.  We had most the kiddos with us including a set of kiddos from the other family we went with.  The weekend was holding a promise of hiking and fishing for us.  We couldn’t wait to get up the mountain to enjoy the fresh air.

After a much needed stop at In & Out for dinner we headed up the mountain late Friday night and missed most of the crowds going up.  We got in late to our shared cabin and went to bed early.  The next morning Don and I were the only ones up, not one of the kids wanted to get up early and fish, go figured, lol.  We got to the secret spot about 6am with everyone else that knew about it to get in an early morning fish.  The lake was calm and the air was chilly but it was so peaceful as we watched our lines in the water.  The carp were jumping all around us and the ducks flew in and out of the lake making for an exciting morning.  The air warmed around us as the sun rose above the mountains and over the lake.  We only got a few bites but nothing committed to our bait.

The rest of the day flew by as we had fun with the kiddos and family running around Big Bear riding the Alpine Slide, playing laser tag and hitting the arcade.  We headed back to the cabin  and made dinner.

The next day we took off into town and mined for gems, raced the go-carts and shopped the Big 5 sale.  After we got back to the cabin Don and I headed out again to hike Castle Rock.  We tried hiking it last year but didn’t realize the trail continued past where we stopped so I really wanted to get at it again and finish it.  We headed over to the trail but soon figured out that we got too late of a start and due to the popularity of this trail there was nowhere to park.  Instead of wasting our time and being completely miserable trying to fight the crowds we went around the lake to Cougar Crest Trail in Fawskin by the Discovery Center.  I had hiked this trail about 2 years ago and took it all the way to the summit where the towers were.  The total hike was about 7 miles round trip and took about 2 and 1/2 hours.  Today we didn’t have much time to hike so we decided to hike to the benches that overlook Big Bear Lake towards the top of the mountain about 1/2 way up.

At the trailhead there is a small parking lot.  You have to have an Adventure Pass to park here,  You can get one at any sporting goods store or at the Discovery Center for $5 for the day or $30 for the year.  We were lucky to find parking.  We headed up the trail and were met with a steady flow of people coming off the trail.  There wasn’t enough to make the trail crowded but enough to see faces at every turn.  The trail quickly changes from paved to dirt with signs of the PCT trail ahead.  We followed it along passing families trying to get their young tired kids up the hill, couples like ourselves enjoying the views and groups of friends making their way up.  We came to a structure that was almost built or had been built and had nothing left behind.  It was an odd thing to see out there in the middle of nowhere.  I can’t image how they were able to get all the concrete and blocks up there.  The trail switch backed a few times then ran along side the mountain giving the amazing view of the Big Bear Lake. We reached the benches in no time.  The view was breathtaking. It was only 2 miles to the benches and just enough time to get a great hike in and start heading back.  Over all the total mileage was 4.3 and it took us an hour and a 1/2.

We got back to the cabin and headed back out to the Village for more fun.  We got back to the cabin and made a late dinner, finished and headed back out to the lake at 10pm to night fish.  I had never done this before and it was a lot of fun.  The oldest kiddo came out with us, probably trying to get away from the madness of all the little ones.  We got all the poles in the water with the glow sticks attached.  We turned off the lights and just chilled by the water.  The air was cold but calm.  The stars were out and the moon danced on the water.  After sitting in silence for about 5 minutes the coyotes howled in the distance.  They talked with one another for a good 3 minutes.  The domesticated caged dogs tried to join in the fun but the coyotes ignored them and continued their conversation with each other.  We got a lot of false bites as the bats flew across the water hitting our lines.  We did get a few real bites but once again they didn’t commit.  We ended our night about 1 in the morning with the kiddo fast asleep.

Even though the weekend was probably one of the busiest for Big Bear we had a great time.  We managed to keep the kiddos happy and busy as well as getting in what we wanted to do.  All and all it was a success.

Hiking Stats

County:                 San Bernardino County
Miles:                     7 miles round trip (we only did 4)
Elv Gain:               1400 Feet Gained
Trail:                      Cougar Crest Trail via Highway 38

2015 Strava Trackable (Full Trail to Summit)

2017 Strave Trackable (to Benches)

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