UNOFFICIAL GUIDE: Snow Summit, CA

Pat AKA mustski

Making fresh tracks
Skier
Joined
Nov 15, 2015
Posts
2,233
Location
Big Bear, California
Unofficial Guide to SNOW SUMMIT

Snow Summit is half of the Big Bear Mountain Resorts which is actually two separate ski resorts joined by a complimentary shuttle service. The Ikon Pass and daily lift tickets include both resorts.

These two ski areas have distinctly different flavors. Although I enjoy them both, I usually choose one for the day rather than lose valuable ski time shuttling to the other. To each his own however; there are some who enjoy skiing one area in the morning and the other after lunch - or Bear in the day and Summit at night.

Both mountains have a parking issue so either get there before first chair or expect to park in the boonies and ride the shuttle to the resort. The shuttles run often and do provide good service. On weekends, there is limited free parking in the on site lots. The rest of the parking is $20.00. For Summit, I recommend parking in the Brownie lot (behind Goldsmiths) and shuttling to the resort. The line of cars on Summit Blvd can be crazy. It's actually quicker to arrive early and shuttle.

Both resorts usually get a WROD open before Thanksgiving. Both have excellent snowmaking, an unlimited water supply from the lake, a fantastic park and grooming crew, are usually fully open by the end of December, then remain open until mid April.

All photos are courtesy of Big Bear Mountain Resorts.

THE WEST SIDE (chairs 2, 3, & 9)

This is by far the most crowded area of the resort. The majority of the runs are beginner/slow sliding zones with a few intermediate drops along the way. In a big snow year, however, this can be a great spot for a mixed ability group. The glades on the westside are quite a bit of fun and since this side is mostly beginners, there will be some untouched powder when everything else is tracked out. A main draw to the West Side are the easy, family friendly cruisers appropriately named the "Family Fun Zone." I have brought more than one beginning skier there and enjoyed the day myself. This is the best area to move to when moving "up" from the bunny run. To get to chair 9 from the bunny run: from the top of chair, ski left out past the snow play area. Look straight across the hill (not down) and you will see a chair on the far side of the slope. Traverse over to that chair (chair 2) and ride it to the top. Exit the chair to the right. You will see 2 other chair lifts. The first one is chair 3 and the second one is chair 9. Cross under both of those chairs and you will be in the easiest terrain on the mountain. Cruiser, Sundown, and Skyline Creek are gentle green runs

family fun park.jpeg

On a regular day, the biggest draw to the West Side is the park! Westridge Park is the longest run at Summit with nonstop features to entertain the park sliders.

westridge.jpeg
WESTRIDGE

Westridge is lit and a highlight of the night skiing experience. When the ski team is not training, Ego Trip a really fun blue run and my favorite "get the circulation going" warm up run. After 11:00 A.M., on most weekend days, this whole area becomes congested (except for Ego) so plan to be patient.

Ego.jpeg
EGO

BBMR has built "The Launch" on Ego and generally adds some bigger jumps and features as the season progresses. The Launch was a competition for sliders under 17 and this was a serious park! Fortunately, once the competition was over, the park crew mellowed the features a bit so it was accessible for mere mortals.

the launch.jpg
EGO CONVERTED TO "THE LAUNCH"

CENTER (chairs 1,2, 4, 8,)

The center of the mountain encompasses Miracle Mile (the annual WROD), Summit Run (the easiest way top to bottom), and of course the bunny slope. Summit Run is a long, slow sliding only run, designated green. This is actually a big jump from the bunny run in difficulty. I recommend that beginners just moving up from the bunny run, move to the runs off chair 9 first. Chair 9 opens around 9:30 -10:00 AM. (see note above about how to get to chair 9). Although usually crowded, Summit Run is nice and wide and offers a good shadowing opportunity for skiers of different ability levels.

Summit Run and Miracle Mile, which is a long cruising blue both end at chair 2 and feed from alternate sides. Because they are the first runs everyone spots as they ride to the top, these are super congested runs after 10:00 A.M.. Two high speed quads feed into both of these runs, so catch them early or skip them until the next time.
miracle mile.jpeg
The view down Miracle Mile

THE EAST SIDE (chairs 1,2, 5, 6 7 & 10)

This area is accessed by a cat track off the top of Miracle Mile to the East of chair 1. It is with great trepidation that I admit this is the least congested area of the mountain and has the most varied terrain.

There are no park features on this side of the resort. The East side is dominated by intermediate and advanced runs, with no beginner terrain. That said, Summit is not Mammoth. The blue runs here are fairly gentle and the "steeps" are more like blue/blacks at Mammoth. I wouldn't plan on "pizza/french fries" in the bowls though; that isn't going to go well.

The first area you will pass is the "bowls" which are designated black runs (chair 6). The Wall is considered the most challenging run at Summit by most sliders. I disagree. I think Side Chute (more later) and the bottom of Olympic are more challenging runs. However, The Wall requires a certain amount of skill. It is steep enough that if you fall, you will slide a long way and others will have to clean up the yard sale. No shame! We've all been there! A word of caution about "Off Chute" which is a designated "blue" run next to Olympic. This run is not always groomed, perpetually shaded, and develops moguls which really quickly become rock hard! This run is not "easier" than the groomed bowl runs.

the bowls.jpeg
Front View of the Wall from the Cat Track which leads back to Miracle Mile

You don't have to wait for chair 6 to open. The cat track leads back to Miracle Mile. The run will be deserted and the bowls often have the best conditions on the mountain. A word to the wise however ... if you are skiing alone, it's probably better to wait for the lift to open. Not many others will ski the bowls until the lift opens. If you wipe out on the Wall, your bindings will release and you will have difficulty self arresting. It is steep enough for a yard sale. I've recovered scattered equipment and skied them to the owner at the bottom on a number of occasions! This is not a difficult run for anyone who has skied Mammoth or other big mountains, but for SoCal intermediates ... it can be a bit tough.

sideview.jpeg

OTHER THAN THE BOWLS!

Back to the original cat track from chair 1. Pass the bowls and you will arrive on Log Chute, the longest run on this side. It is mostly blue, with a short black drop at the bottom. Shadowing Log Chute (to the West) is a run appropriately called "Side Chute" which is designated a black. Side Chute is actually a really fun run and, IMHO, the most challenging run at Summit. The bumps can get really big and the coverage can be thin. Sometimes it does get scraped off and slick in spots - just sayin'. If you enjoy this run, use chair 5, to lap it.

logchute.jpeg
The bottom of Log Chute. Side Chute is to the left in the trees.

Log Chute also leads to the runs under chairs 7 & 10 at about midway down the mountain. Both these chairs support some great intermediate terrain.

timber ridge.jpeg
Timber Ridge - chair 7

On a windy day, this area is protected by the trees. The runs under chair 10 are almost always the least crowded. In fact, even on the most crowded day, you can ski chair 6 - the bowls - and chair 10 and completely avoid the crowds. Under chair 10, Tommy's is a quick short steeper drop that is designated a black. The rest of the groomed runs in this area are smooth, cruising blues that are fun for the whole family. There are some ungroomed runs as well which are really fun after a big dump - Pipe Dream and a couple of glade runs; be careful since they do not blow these smaller side runs, the base depth is less than the rest of the mountain, and obstacles can suddenly appear as the snow melts.

NIGHT SKIING

Night skiing is ... well, a whole different vibe. Quite a few runs are lit and open and Westridge receives a fresh evening grooming!

night skiing.jpeg
The Annual Torchlight Parade! The slopes close for an hour but it is a sight to see!

Summer Fun! - Hiking, Biking, and Lunch!

Let me begin by identifying myself as a "hiking mom" so my personal summer experience of the mountain is hiking and lunch ... which I highly recommend but the way! However, for the more adventurous, there are extensive biking trails and a bike park. I like the fact that anyone can ride the chair to the top and meet up for the lunch and view. The grandparents - mid 80's - are able to join the rest of the family after we are done hiking... or biking.

wine.jpeg
This is how I like to spend my summer day - a nice wine and cheese picnic with a beautiful hike down the mountain!

big summer map.jpg

The Bike Park

The best I can do is include some photos - all courtesy of Big Bear Mountain Resorts - that will give you a feel for the park. I am a skier, not a mountain biker.

bike 1.jpeg
bike 2.jpeg
bike 3.jpeg


Summer Activities in Big Bear Lake

Big Bear advertises itself as a four seasons resort and that is certainly true. For those wanting to escape the inland/desert summer heat, Big Bear Lake is a mecca with a daytime temp in the 70 - 80 range and a nice cool down to 55-65 in the evening. There are all the obvious lake activities of boating, fishing, water skiing, tubing, etc., but Big Bear also has a variety of great campgrounds worth checking out. My personal favorite is Serrano which is a state campground with large well treed sites, and it is adjacent to bike path which runs around the lake.

My favorite summertime lake stop over is The Boathouse Lakeside Tavern (Formerly B's Backyard BBQ). They have docks available for loading, unloading, and parking your boat and pooches are welcome on their beach. Full bar service is available with plastic cups. I know none of you are interested in those demon beverages ... but ... Just saying'! We are a generational family and this works beautifully for us. Grandpa can sit on the beach with his dog and drink some wine while the grandkids load and unload into the boat for tubing! The 4th of July is crazy though so ... if that is your plan ... good luck!

***NOTE in heavy drought years, there are no docking facilities available. I will update if the docks are opening again after this year's snow fall.

https://www.facebook.com/BoathouseLakesideTavern

Have a great summer! Think Snow!
-- @Pat AKA mustski
 
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Kentaro

At the base lodge
Skier
Joined
Jan 18, 2018
Posts
2
Hi Pat,

Thanks for a wonderful guide! I have some questions for you, if you don't mind.

I took my girlfriend (new beginner) to Mammoth recently, where she enjoyed the green portion of the Roadrunner, Sesame Street, and Apple Pie, in that order. However, she struggled with the green-black St Moritz when we tried something more difficult. We retreated back to Sesame Street.

We're heading to Snow Summit next week, because it looks like the green Summit Run would be perfect for her next step up the trail difficulty. However, although the trail map marks this as a green, the legend says greens are intermediate, while the blues are low-intermediate. The trail status has it designated as a green-black. You mention in your guide that it is a "long, slow sliding only run". If my GF was happy with Sesame Street, but freaking out with St Moritz, will Summit Run be gentle enough for her?

I'm also thinking she would enjoy Sundown, but again, confused about what a "green" really means at Summit. I realize trail difficulty is relative to each mountain.

The other option is to go to Big Bear and ski the green Easy Street and Learning Curve, but these seem like the equivalent of Sesame Street and Apple Pie, and she was starting to get bored with those by the end of the trip.

What do you think? Any suggestions would be appreciated.

Thanks,
Kentaro
 
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Thread Starter
TS
Pat AKA mustski

Pat AKA mustski

Making fresh tracks
Skier
Joined
Nov 15, 2015
Posts
2,233
Location
Big Bear, California
Hi Pat,

Thanks for wonderful guide! I have some questions for you, if you don't mind.

I took my girlfriend (new beginner) to Mammoth recently, where she enjoyed the green portion of the Roadrunner, Sesame Street, and Apple Pie, in that order. However, she struggled with the green-black St Moritz when we tried something more difficult. We retreated back to Sesame Street.

We're heading to Snow Summit next week, because it looks like the green Summit Run would be perfect for her next step up the trail difficulty. However, although the trail map marks this as a green, the legend says greens are intermediate, while the blues are low-intermediate. The trail status has it designated as a green-black. You mention in your guide that it is a "long, slow sliding only run". If my GF was happy with Sesame Street, but freaking out with St Moritz, will Summit Run be gentle enough for her?

I'm also thinking she would enjoy Sundown, but again, confused about what a "green" really means at Summit. I realize trail difficulty is relative to each mountain.

The other option is to go to Big Bear and sky the green Easy Street and Learning Curve, but these seem like the equivalent of Sesame Street and Apple Pie, and she was starting to get bored with those by the end of the trip.

What do you think? Any suggestions would be appreciated.

Thanks,
Kentaro
Summit Run will probably be okay for her. The biggest problem is that it gets really congested. Chair 9 opens at 10:00 A.M. and both Sundown and Cruiser are great for beginners. So is she doesn’t like Summit Run, go into the lodge at the base of chair 2, have a hot chocolate, and go back out at 10! Just be careful to go all the way to the right as you get off chair 2. My son’s GF is a beginner and she loved skiing those runs.
 

CrystalRose

Putting on skis
Skier
Joined
Apr 25, 2017
Posts
86
Location
Southern California
@Kentaro I want to give my opinion as a Newbie. Never been to Mammoth, but I just did my first weekend exploring BB and SS. I also only ski greens for now. The problem with skiing Sundown off of Chair 9 (Skyline is closed for now) is you have to ski Summit Run to get back to the base. I would ask your girlfriend if she can handle the last drop back to the base. It's to the right on the other side of Miracle Mile and the Restaurant building (sorry I don't know it's name). Summit Run itself isn't bad but that last section can be a little intimidating. I didn't want to do laps off chair 9, get tired, then have to struggle down Summit Run.

I would start at BB and do Easy Street and Learning Curve. Learning Curve being the slightly harder between the two. I was on the lift with another Beginner and he said the same thing having skied Snow Summit the day before. I wish I had started at Bear then went to SS. Also BB bunny slope (Chair 7) is much longer than SS if you are looking for an easy warm up.

ETA: I just looked at the trail map and it does say blue is Low Intermediate and green is Intermediate. They must have that backwards because greens there are easier than blues like at most resorts.
 

Kentaro

At the base lodge
Skier
Joined
Jan 18, 2018
Posts
2
Pat and CrystalRose,

Belated thanks for your inputs! My GF and I had a wonderful time at Snow Summit, so much so that we are going back this Friday!

We started with Summit Run, running it twice in the morning. It turned out to be quite long for us, such that we had to stop several times to catch our breath. There were a few tricky spots, but we managed. It is a comparable to St Moritz at Mammoth, both being green-blacks, but Summit Run was straightforward to navigate, while St Moritz isn't well marked and one missed turn can have you going down a black!

We then skied Sundown a number of times and enjoyed that immensely, being a nice, slow, easy-going green, with the exception of a sharp drop in the middle, and the last drop (green-black to blue?) at the end near the lift making us shake our heads. It was somewhat icy at first, around noon, but it started to get smooth with the sun and other skiers showing up. It was unfortunate that Skyline was closed. By 2 PM, Sundown was starting to get relatively "crowded" for a weekday.

Also, it should be noted that Chair Lift 9 is an old-school lift (where it doesn't detach from the cable like the newer ones and goes at a slower pace from the cable), so it swings around at a higher speed: loading and unloading is hurried and rough--it was a frantic scurrying into place for loading, and we had to always signal the lift operator to slow it down for us when unloading. Otherwise, there were no shortage of trips and falls at the top of the lift, not just by us, but by almost everybody getting off.

We skied on a Friday, meaning that it was less crowded--no waiting for Chair Lifts 2 and 9, and we always got a chair to ourselves. Another plus about Fridays is that Summit offers night skiing, which extended our day tickets by two hours from 4 PM to 6 PM. We managed to ski Summit Run three times under the lights!

Driving back Friday night on the 18 and 330, we literally saw hundreds of cars driving toward Big Bear Lake, with headlights stretching far back down the road, just like the ending scene in Field of Dreams. I suspect most of those people were going to be skiing on Saturday, and hence the congestion on the slopes that you spoke of. Glad we went on a Friday.

Thanks,
Kentaro
 
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Thread Starter
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Pat AKA mustski

Pat AKA mustski

Making fresh tracks
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Joined
Nov 15, 2015
Posts
2,233
Location
Big Bear, California
Pat and CrystalRose,

Belated thanks for your inputs! My GF and I had a wonderful time at Snow Summit, so much so that we are going back this Friday!

We started with Summit Run, running it twice in the morning. It turned out to be quite long for us, such that we had to stop several times to catch our breath. There were a few tricky spots, but we managed. It is a comparable to St Moritz at Mammoth, both being green-blacks, but Summit Run was straightforward to navigate, while St Moritz isn't well marked and one missed turn can have you going down a black!

We then skied Sundown a number of times and enjoyed that immensely, being a nice, slow, easy-going green, with the exception of a sharp drop in the middle, and the last drop (green-black to blue?) at the end near the lift making us shake our heads. It was somewhat icy at first, around noon, but it started to get smooth with the sun and other skiers showing up. It was unfortunate that Skyline was closed. By 2 PM, Sundown was starting to get relatively "crowded" for a weekday.

Also, it should be noted that Chair Lift 9 is an old-school lift (where it doesn't detach from the cable like the newer ones and goes at a slower pace from the cable), so it swings around at a higher speed: loading and unloading is hurried and rough--it was a frantic scurrying into place for loading, and we had to always signal the lift operator to slow it down for us when unloading. Otherwise, there were no shortage of trips and falls at the top of the lift, not just by us, but by almost everybody getting off.

We skied on a Friday, meaning that it was less crowded--no waiting for Chair Lifts 2 and 9, and we always got a chair to ourselves. Another plus about Fridays is that Summit offers night skiing, which extended our day tickets by two hours from 4 PM to 6 PM. We managed to ski Summit Run three times under the lights!

Driving back Friday night on the 18 and 330, we saw literally hundreds of cars driving toward Big Bear Lake, with headlights stretching far back down the road, just like the ending scene in Field of Dreams. I suspect most of those people were going to be skiing on Saturday, and hence the congestion on the slopes that you spoke of. Glad we went on Friday.

Thanks,
Kentaro
If you give a thumbs down signal at either loading or unloading, they will happily slow the lift down for you. I’m glad you enjoyed your day. Welcome to the addiction! If Cruiser is open, it is easier than Sundown. If Summit Run tires you, don’t be embarrassed to stop and rest. Just make sure to pick a good spot where you are visible to those skiing down and pull off to the side of the trail.
 

Ken in LA

Pulling down the safety bar
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Joined
Jul 15, 2018
Posts
77
Location
LA, CA, USA
Hi @Pat AKA mustski, Thank you for this write up on Snow Summit. I made my annual pilgrimage to Big Bear Lake last week and I am consistently impressed by the beauty of the San Bernardino National Forest. There is something dreamy about the place: the huge trees, the view of the lake, the bright sandstone rock formations all bathed in golden SoCal light. We weren’t even aware of the night skiing until we saw the gorgeous illuminated piste on our way to dinner. I haven’t been night skiing since I was a child and my friends and I plan to give it a try next time. Skiing on the Eastern side of the resort was a real treat. Here are some of my personal recommendations: lodging at the Big Bear Frontier is rustic and quaint and the full-sized heated pool is pure heaven. The ribeye steak, draft beers, and red wine at Murray’s Saloon were all surprisingly good but the real surprise came when they started up the karaoke machine and the place turned into a proper party with dancing, singing, and stumbling home at 2AM. Himalaya restaurant in the village serves some decent Indian food and helped me atone for the sins of the previous night (amazing how three draft beers on an empty stomach and all of a sudden I’m no longer a vegetarian LOL).
 
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