Mountain Homes are Surrounded by Alpine Forests.
Big Bear Lake has the unique distinction of being an incorporated city that’s completely surrounded by National Forest. For over 150 years, people have been coming to our valley to enjoy the natural beauty and recreational opportunities that only a protected forest can provide. With so much change occurring elsewhere in California, it’s amazing that these lands have remained open to the public.
San Bernardino National Forest is a federally-managed forest covering more than 800,000 acres. Elevations range from 2,000 to 11,499 feet (600 to 3505 m). The forest includes five wilderness areas: San Gorgonio, Cucamonga, San Jacinto, Santa Rosa and Bighorn Mountain.
Originally the forest was home to Native Americans, since long before recorded history. Mexican and European settlements occurred sporadically for the first half of the 19th century, but the chain of events that led to the creation of the National Forest really began after California became part of the United States in 1848 (it had been part of Mexico since 1822).
In 1855, gold was discovered in the San Bernardino mountains. Over the second half of the 19th century, mining, timber, and grazing grew quickly, taking a heavy toll on the land. By the end of the 19th century, significant sectors of the forest had been felled and overgrazed. Streams and rivers were silting in and water quality was declining.
In 1907 the San Bernardino National Forest was set aside for the conservation of natural resources such as trees, water, minerals, livestock range, recreation, and wildlife. Today, the assets of our local forest include; 612 miles of trails, 1,270 miles of unpaved roads, 49 campgrounds, and 13 picnic areas.