Big Bear is legendary in the history of our sport, but until recently hasn’t been a destination after closing to downhill mountain bikes in 2004. Fortunately for riders in SoCal, the resort has seen the light and recently reopened to gravity riding. Taking cues from the financial success in Whistler, Gravity Logic— the outfit responsible for the Whistler experience— has been commissioned to design all new trails.
As SoCal’s only lift-served bike park, it’s a popular destination for riders in the area— even with the minimal amount of riding offered. After our post-Interbike riding plans in Hurricane were derailed by freeway closures, we decided to check it out.
However, since we had planned to stick to trail riding on this particular road trip, we didn’t come prepared with DH gear. After a bit of research we had learned of the Skyline Trail, which has been expanded in order to be a destination worthy ride.
Ironically, we had so much fun at the bike park, the minimal number of lift accessible trails didn’t matter one bit, and Skyline remains on our to-do list.
For gravity runs, Miracle Mile, Party Wave, Westridge and Turtle Trails were our riding options. Both Party Wave and Miracle Mile are black diamond level runs that include technical trail features including step-ups, berms, bridges and more.
Westridge is a blue trail geared toward the intermediate rider with some advanced features, but I’ll be honest— Party Wave was one of the most fun jump line trails I’ve ridden in California and it was all I wanted to ride once I was warmed up.
Even though we were geared up for riding trails as opposed to gravity runs, the trails were flowy and fun. I didn’t feel the need for additional armor and was happy with my IXS knee pads and Bell enduro helmet paired with goggles. (though I wish I had brought my DH pedals) We didn’t find the trails overly technical, especially in comparison to our local bike park, Northstar with its loose, often sketchy trail surfaces.
That said, the black diamond level trails were rated inline with what you would expect. (Big Bear doesn’t feature any trails rated as double black)
My ride, the new 650b Nomad, was wicked fun on the terrain and jump filled lines.
Party Wave was a blast. Unlike a lot of other jump filled flow lines, I found the lips to have a bit more pop. They were a bit more inline with MTB style dirt jumps and less like the long distance table top lines so prevalent in bike parks. Although they were tabled landings, they dipped in the middle, making it best to slow down and roll them or boost them at speed.
Other than the set of three table tops after the wall ride, they all flowed awesome. I had a few close calls over jumping the first one when riding the wall ride, as it was too short if you carried enough speed to ride the entire wall line.
A number of our riding buddies like to talk smack about SoCal, but everyone we met was super friendly and we met some awesome people there. In fact, on our first ride up the chair lift we rode up with Motorcross Freestyle Legend Mike Metzger and his son Myrie, who is already a little shredder like his dad. Doesn’t get much more rad than that.
Being the only gravity destination in SoCal, the riding community seemed to be a lot more close knit than a lot of other parks we traveled to.
We held off shooting photos all afternoon to wait until the lifts close and traffic on Party Wave died down a bit. Unfortunately, Bike Patrol wasn’t cool at all with us taking photos after the lifts closed and we ended up getting escorted off the mountain. Lame.
If you plan to visit, make sure to play and document early.
At least we got a few shots before being booted out…
The five-year master plan includes a beginner trail. Build-out began this spring. Also in the plan is the longest and only “green” mountain bike trail in the Big Bear Valley with full lift service. The crew hopes to have it open for July 4th. Snow Summit continues to work with the National Forest Service to pursue the original plan for this trail designed by Gravity Logic, Inc. Environmental studies and permit gathering are underway.