The Skyline Trail is the newest trail in Big Bear Lake and I tell you it’s something Big Bear has needed for some time. It’s a trail that can easily be called a destination trail.
Lake Tahoe has the Flume Trail and the Rim Trail, and now Big Bear makes its mark with the Skyline Trail. I absolutely fell in love with The Skyline Trail. I didn’t know one could fall in love with dirt, but this pristine trail really pulled at my heartstrings!
It is a multi-use trail for mountain biking, hiking and horseback riding that was designed by the good folks from International Mountain Biking Association (IMBA) and Big Bear’s very own Big Bear Valley Trails Foundation (BBVTF). Right now it extends to 8.4 miles one way or 16.8 miles round trip. And that’s just the beginning because BBVTF has bigger plans to have the trail become a 15 mile loop that begins and ends on the backside of Snow Summit.
I took my mountain bike up to the trail. Even though it is multi-use for horseback and hiking it really has a true feel for mountain biking, After all it was designed by IMBA, the masters of mountain bike trail designs.
The one thing I remember about the trail is I didn’t want to stop riding. The problem was I got a late start and after 3 miles or so I realized the sun was sinking fast. However, every time I tried to stop and turn back I could see the trail snake into a distance and it looked too darn appealing not to keep riding. So sure enough I kept pedaling to experience more of the trail. I ended up riding a little over four miles, but I really wanted more. It was hard to stop, but the sun finally did set, and I only had an ounce of twilight to get back to my truck. I look forward to riding the entire 16 miles up and back soon.
What I like about Skyline Trail it’s a tight single track with solid compact dirt most of the way. I was amazed at how silky smooth the dirt really is. There are only a couple spots with rocky terrain, which is easy to navigate through. The turns are well developed, and there is an abundance of twisty turns throughout.
The trail really made me work, but that’s what makes it so fun. During the ride I found myself constantly looking ahead to see where the next turn ends and where the next one begins. It was left to the right, then back to the left and so on. There were quite a few turns, and all unique to one another. There were some easy to-do berms and some stumps for jumping. My favorite feature was one portion offered a dozen whoop dee-doos. At one point during my ride trail I shouted out “I LOVE THIS TRAIL!” The entire time I was riding up and down the terrain with an ear to ear smile. It was such a hoot! I can imagine this is what it must feel like if the PCT trail was open to mountain biking.
For the most part Skyline Trail is relatively flat with a cumulative gain of just 539 feet. There are plenty of up and downs, and some of the downhill portions does kick the bike into higher speeds. Another thing I like about this trail is it has the ability to help one get better at mountain biking. I don’t classify myself as an advanced rider, but if I continue to ride this trail I know my skill level will rapidly increase. This is a great way to boost one’s skill level.
There are many portions where just about anyone who can ride a bike can handle it. When the trail does get rated it will at most get rated as an intermediate trail, but it’s probably closer to a lower-intermediate trail. Don’t let that fool you though, because there is sooooo much fun to be had for all skill levels on this awesome trail.
My goal is to ride this trail at least once a week until the snow comes into town. I only rode four miles out my first time, so I can only imagine there are plenty more great features on the final four miles. I look forward to conquering the entire ride.
The trailhead is easy to access too. There are three ways to get to the trailhead, which is at the intersection of US Forest Service Roads 2N10 and 2N06, just on the backside of Snow Summit. The way I got to the trail is I drove my truck up 2N10, which can be accessed from Club View Drive next to Bear Mountain. Another way is to ride a bike up the same way from Club View Drive, or ride a bike from the Pine Knot trail (1E01), which can be accessed from Mill Creek Road on the west end of Big Bear Lake. Of course one of the easiest and most convenient ways to access the trail is to take the Scenic Sky Chair to the top of Snow Summit and ride down to the trailhead.
There is a grand opening for the Skyline Trail on Saturday, August 17. There will be a red ribbon cutting ceremony and brief comments form officials of the US Forest Service, San Bernardino National Forest Mountaintop District Ranger, Big Bear Valley Trails Foundation, The City of Big Bear Lake, The National Forest Association, Big Bear Cycling and the County of San Bernardino. Light refreshments will be served. After the ceremony members of the Big Bear Cycling Club will lead rides on the trail. There is also a hike scheduled for those who wish to walk the trail.
Please note the trail is not complete yet, and there are some scheduled volunteer trail building days set for August 18 and 27. I volunteered last fall for a trail building session, and I’m glad I did because I feel like I helped make this trail awesome! I might not be able to make it to the August 18 session, but I’m going to do my best to get out there to help on August 27. The volunteer days do make a difference to building a quality trail.
The Skyline Trail is worth taking a trip to Big Bear to experience this well-built trail. Another key point about this trail is the unparalleled beauty that surrounds the area. The best way to describe a ride on the Skyline Trail is pure elation!
Ride the Skyline,