Going to The Snow From Long Beach
January proved to be record snowfall for California, with white mountains all along Los Angeles County as well as the Sierra Nevadas. Here in Long Beach, the line of the mountains has been a tease from across the clear skies, with the promise of a snow day just within reach. The forecast for Southern California promises a few more storms in the next week, so where can you and your family go for some snowy fun?
Big Bear Mountain
Big Bear has been a hot spot for skiing and snowboarding for ages, and is home to Southern California’s only super pipe. Two major ski resorts keep snow packed and ready during the winter season regardless of drought conditions, but the recent snowfall has turned Big Bear into a Bavarian village on the water. The surrounding state park territories around the lake make for good afternoon hikes to watch for wildlife, and are open and safe for children.
With several great sledding hill for the kids and adults alike, this is a great day trip for those looking for an escape, or a long weekend for those with the time and inclination to do so. Plan for the drive to take 2 hours to get there (depending on traffic), and drive carefully: the road up is one lane to each side of traffic. Nearby, the communities of Lake Arrowhead and Running Springs are also good options.
Easy to reach and a perennial favorite of those looking for some snow, Mt. Baldy sits towering on the horizon of Los Angeles’ snowy mountains right now. Tucked into a valley on the south side of the mountain is the Mt. Baldy Ski Mountain and Ski Lifts, just north of the town of Mt. Baldy. Several small resorts and cabins line the drive and waterway that runs through the center. There’s also the Mt. Baldy Trout Pool if you want to try your hand at fishing in the cool air.
Also sitting in this valley for the more adventurous and for families is Icehouse Canyon, a part of the Los Angeles National Forest. This canyon offers spectacular views and well-preserved snow conditions. The trailhead is the most family friendly area of the park, with parking and picnic areas. For those wanting to go deeper into the canyon on the trail, good shoes, hiking poles, and micro spikes are advised in icy conditions.
Frazier Park is situated along the 5 Freeway north of San Fernando Valley. On most weekends, this would be about a 2 hour drive from most areas of Los Angeles. (From Long Beach during the week, Google puts the drive at a tidy 1 hour and 40 minutes.) With a history reaching back to the mid 1800s, Frazier Park lies within the Los Padres National Forest, and can be found between Gorman and Lebec. The Chula Vista Campground gives access to the nearby Mount Pinos, which offers gentle slopes for sledding with children. While the road leading up to this area doesn’t typically see a lot of snow on the roads, consider keeping some chains for your tires in your vehicle in case of ice. Access to Mount Pinos can be tricky after recent snow.
This lesser known destination north of Pasadena runs on pure natural snow. Close to Mt. Baldy in the San Gabriel Mountains, Mt. Waterman came to be a snow destination near Los Angeles in the 1940s. With ski lifts for skiers and snowboarding in the winter and several miles of mountain biking trails in the off-season, Mt. Waterman is another quick trip across the valley from Long Beach, taking only an hour and a half to reach. Families should note that Mt. Waterman’s ski valley is not open to sledding, but scenic lifts and snowman building are welcome in designated areas. The lifts are currently open on the weekends for the season.
Go North or South
Southern California is blessed to have some of the most abundant mountains of any region in the United States. Opportunities for winter scenes exist on both the north and south ends. While these places are some of the most easily accessed snow towns for the average weekend, places like Julian, Ramona, Mammoth Mountain, and Mount San Jacinto are all within easy distance with a free weekend and the right temperatures. You can go from seaside to mountainside snow with only a little time burned. It’s truly one of the most charmed qualities of living in Long Beach or any of the cities nearby.
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