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Trip of the Week

There's Plenty of Horse Play on Big Bear Trails

August 16, 1987|MICHELE GRIMM and TOM GRIMM | The Grimms of Laguna Beach are authors of "Away for the Weekend," a travel guide to Southern California.

BIG BEAR LAKE — When you feel like horsing around, head to this refreshing resort in the San Bernardino Mountains.

Then take your choice: saddle, surrey or bleacher seat.

Visitors can mount up for a scenic trail ride through the evergreen forest, sightsee by the alpine lake in a horse-drawn carriage or get their equine kicks watching the annual Bear Valley Rodeo.

Would-be cowgirls and cowboys will get a leisurely look at San Bernardino National Forest by slipping into the saddle for a 4 1/2-mile guided ride. The hour-long outings introduce you to rugged but beautiful terrain that was first explored on horseback by gold prospectors in the mid-1800s.

Grizzlies Are Gone

These days, Magic Mountain Stables has 50 horses ready to take Big Bear Valley visitors among the pine, fir and cedar trees. You're bound to see birds and a squirrel or two, but the grizzlies that gave the valley its name have long since disappeared.

Manager Gary Carr and his wranglers saddle their steeds at 10 a.m. every day and you can mount up anytime until 5 p.m.--first come, first served.

The relaxing rides (no running) cost $12 an hour. Riders must be 7 years or older to ride alone; ages 2 to 7 can ride double with an adult. Children's pony rides cost $7 per half-hour. More information: (714) 866-7715.

To reach Big Bear's Magic Mountain Stable, drive east on Interstate 10 to Interstate 215 going north toward San Bernardino/Barstow. Follow freeway directions for the Mountain Resorts exit and continue east on California 30 to California 330.

Turn left to wind up the mountainside to Running Springs and pick up California 18 heading east. Approaching the center of the city of Big Bear Lake you'll see the corral of horses. It's adjacent to a water slide and the Alpine Slide, a snowless bobsled thrill ride.

Surrey With a Fringe

Farther along California 18 (Big Bear Boulevard), where the highway turns into Pine Knot Avenue, look for a black surrey with fringe on the top. It's hitched to a handsome American Standardbred named Dusty that trots around the town.

Starting this summer, the Old Time Carriage Co. has been making 20-minute sightseeing jaunts down to the lake via Big Bear's side streets. Driver John Gunn is happy to tell you about village events and activities, as well as places to eat.

Up to four adults and two children can board the sleek black carriage. Adults pay $10, children $5 for the round trip; kids ride free if they're shorter than the hitching post. Wednesday through Friday there's a special rate of $15 per couple. Horse-and-carriage rides are available daily from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., weather permitting. More details: (714) 866-7444.

Annual Rodeo Set

Horse fans will find plenty of excitement on Labor Day weekend during the valley's 44th annual rodeo at the Vaqueros de Los Montanas Arena. Three days of bronc riding, calf roping, barrel racing and other events get under way at 1 p.m. beginning Sept. 5.

Tickets for the afternoon rodeo shows go on sale at noon in the arena at Shay Meadows, east of Big Bear. Adults pay $6, children 6 through 12 years, $4. Call (714) 585-3027 for more information.

Oktoberfest, the mountain resort's major festival, begins the same day and runs every weekend through Nov. 1. German music, dancing, food and plenty of beer are on tap in Big Bear's Convention Center.

In the meantime there are many other amusements. You can fish on the lake or get a guaranteed catch without a license or limit at the Alpine Lakes trout farm.

Cheese or a marshmallow is all the bait you need to catch rainbows that average two pounds each. Grill them on the barbecue and enjoy a tree-shaded picnic by the trout ponds. Entry costs $2 per family, and you'll pay $3.98 a pound for the fish you catch. Rental poles are $2, including bait.

Alpine Lakes is off California 18 in the Moonridge area between Big Bear Lake and Big Bear City. Hours are from 8 a.m. weekends, 10 a.m. weekdays, to 6 p.m. Phone (714) 866-4532.

Nine-Hole Golf Course

From the same highway, Moonridge Road leads to more fun at the Goldmine Golf Club, a challenging par 35, nine-hole course that's usually covered by snow in winter. You can tee off between 7 a.m. and 6 p.m. for $8 weekends, $6 weekdays.

At the top of the links, visitors will see wildlife in Moonridge Animal Park. It's home to abandoned pets or injured critters, including a timber wolf, bobcat, mountain lion and black bear.

You'll also see mule deer, red and gray fox, skunk, barn owls, hawks and eagles. A guided tour takes place at feeding time at 2:30 p.m. Daily hours at the free zoo are 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Solar Observatory

A summer treat is the opportunity to tour the Big Bear solar observatory that's owned and operated by Cal Tech. Studies of the sun are made with telescopes and monitored on TV screens that visitors can view Saturdays between 4 p.m. and 6 p.m. (to Sept. 5). Drive to the white dome on the lake's north shore.

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