Bear Mountain boarding is ranked tops in the nation
Jibs and jumps abound at the nation's only all-mountain freestyle park at Bear Mountain. Ranked tops by Transworld Snowboarding Magazine, Bear Mountain has freestyle features on most runs, competition-quality Superpipe and standard pipe, plus custom urban riding zones like the Red Bull Plaza. There's also terrific skiing and riding off four mountain peaks. Bear Mountain also sports SoCal's largest beginner area and the 13,000 sq. ft. deck overlooks it all. 43101 Goldmine Dr., Big Bear Lake. (800) BEAR-MTN.
Experts love the longest, steepest run in Southern California, Geronimo with 1,100 vertical feet of double black diamond challenge. But there’s also the region’s largest beginner area with long gentle runs.
Huge gap jumps, competition-quality Superpipe and every imaginable jib make it a favorite hangout for pro riders. Yet there are also hits just inches off the ground with signage that shows neophytes how to do them. Along with mini and standard pipes for those who aren’t ready to go Super yet.
It may be a cliche but there really is something for everyone at Bear Mountain, which is why the nation’s first and only all-mountain terrain park is rebranding itself as "The People’s Park" for 2011-12. Yes, there’s park a plenty when it’s built out with over a hundred snow features and dozens of manmade ones, but if you choose to carve there’s plenty of room to do that, on blue diamond Exhibition and Rip Cord on Silver Mountain to Showtime, as steep as Geronimo, just not as long.
"People say Bear has great parks and that’s where the pros go, but it has a larger beginner area than Snow Summit," the resort’s Chris Riddle said. "We want people to know that if you’re a pro we’ve got it, an intermediate we’ve got it, or a raw beginner, we’ve got that too."
That beginner area makes Bear the ideal place to learn. Newbies are far removed from the hustle and bustle of the resort—in fact they’re shuttled away from ski and snowboard traffic—and get their legs under them by riding their own Magic Carpet lifts, moving conveyor belts they just step on and off. When it’s time to head to the lifts, first there’s slow-moving Clementine and then a detachable quad accessing three gentle low intermediate trails that allow learners to feel their way.
Those who have already got game on the other hand find Bear a great place to play. By the numbers it’s the Southland’s most impressive resort: four mountain peaks, 200 developed acres. Another 550 acres off piste in undeveloped canyons serving up challenging natural skiing and riding as good as anything this side of Colorado when there’s snow...which there has been, three years running!
Those peaks each serve up their own brand of distinctive riding. Showdown Mountain is mostly natural ungroomed terrain. Goldmine Mountain sports The Park Run, a mile-and-a-third long line of jibs and jumps. On Silver Mountain it’s Exhibition, Rip Cord and super steep, twisting The Wedge (formerly Quicksilver). Lastly there’s Bear Peak, sixth highest ski peak in the state and tops in the Southland at 8,805 feet, with Geronimo plus prime canyon access. The run starts steep, continues with a flatter transition cruiser, then suddenly drops away into 35° pitch of double black diamond.
The Park meanwhile has earned national acclaim. Number One freestyle park in the country and number two overall, behind only Whistler-Blackcomb. Best vibe in the nation. Third best pipe in California, and ninth overall. Top honors in the state for value, and fifth in the nation. All awards bestowed on Bear Mountain in a Transworld Snowboarding Magazine reader poll...plus Critic’s Choice honors in 2010 from Orange County Register readers.
There’s jumps galore, from itty bitty hitties along the flats of Amusement Park perfect for snowboarders and skiers just learning to get a little air to Superpark-sized triple jump lines down The Park Run with consecutive 30-, 40- and 50-foot jumps that only the best riders go after. Spines, hips, transfers, cheese wedges, rollers and bumps are but a few of the jumps Bear is famous for.
Bringing The Park to the People are Skill Builder Parks, found on Amusement Park and Learning Curve. Sharpen your skills in a laid back learning environment on features that start off basic, then graduate to larger rollers where riders test themselves. Further down there’s small step-up jumps, boxes and rails just 8-10 inches off the ground. Master those and you’re ready to explore the rest of The People’s Park.
Not all the hits at Bear are metal either. Several natural log features are introduced into The Scene and Amusement Park for riders to jib off. Each year The Park gets better as staff scopes out trees where hips can be built and breakovers ideal for take offs. And the Junkyard on Cascade is filled with all kinds of, well, junk to bang against...including cars and/or trucks!
SoCal's only halfpipes at Bear Mountain
The only halfpipes in Southern California are also at Bear Mountain, and there’s not one or two but three to choose from, just like Goldilocks. Two side-by-side pipes above the deck, a standard pipe plus Superpipe at nearly 600 feet long with 17-foot sidewalls, let sliders show off for those below. Then there’s the training wheels mini-pipe up on the hill with five foot sidewalls and gentle transitions where skiers and snowboarders learn to turn in midair.
Only the Big Bear resorts can commit to the necessary snowmaking effort to open a pipe thanks to an unlimited water supply courtesy of Big Bear Lake. Fan guns are literally aimed into the pipe cavities and fired for a couple days straight, filled to overflowing with snow, then cut with state-of-the-art Zaugg pipe Monsters.
In working with Snow Park Technologies, known for events like the X Games, U.S. Open and Vans Triple Crown, The Park is one of a select few resorts in the country presenting worldclass features. SPT specializes in terrain park planning, design and construction worldwide and ensures that The Park remains fresh and innovative.
When it’s time for a break head to the 13,000 sq. ft. sundeck, one of Bear’s other notable assets. It’s the place to see and be seen right next to The Scene, the resort’s collection of hike-to-hits above the base area with beginner, intermediate and advanced jibs.
With remodeled Beach Bar and Tiki Bar and outdoor stage and Ice Box sport shop, The Deck is the place to relax with a cold or hot drink, burger and take it all in, from The Scene to the pipes to distant mountain peaks, and enjoy a winter vibe worth the admission price in itself—now there’s smoking and nonsmoking areas. Inside there’s the Boardroom with fireplace and bar, while up on the mountain on weekends Geronimo’s Outpost serves brews and barbecue next to the top of the Access Express.
Dual mountain lift tickets good at Snow Summit and Bear Mountain are just $56 for adults regular season, $69 peak weekends and holidays.