Clay Shoemaker, 32, is a former professional snowboarder who’s called California’s Bear Mountain home for 11 years, moving there from Mount Shasta for its wealth of outdoor activities. After competing for years professionally with countless films and magazine covers to his credit, he realized how much he loved the mountain and found himself working in its operations department building terrain parks and running events, tasks that fit him perfectly. Now he’s in the marketing department spreading the Bear Mountain love–of which he admits there’s plenty. “While the winter’s great, the summer offers a lot also,” he says. “Both on the trails and the water.”
Here are a few of his favorite non-snow related things in Bear Mountain:
Aspect of the region in the off-season: You get to have all four seasons. Spring, summer, fall, and winter all have their place. You never really get too much of one season. It’s perfect.
Place to mountain bike ride: With so many trails for mountain biking, you could spend the summer just mapping out the valley. At Snow Summit, you can load the East Mountain Xpress at get above 8,000 feet in 20 minutes. You can have lunch at the View Haus on top and then bike down. There are a variety of great maps of all the trails so exploring doesn’t have to be an issue.
Place to road ride: Looping the lake. It has scenic views, cool air, and enough Share The Road signs to keep all motorists in check. If you’re really looking to sweat it out, take one of the highways down the mountain. Highways 18, 38, and 330 all get you up or down the mountain.
Place to ride with the family: If the whole family wants to ride, Snow Summit gives access to wide fire roads that run all along the top of the mountain. They bring you right through the National Forest and back to the base area. For mellow and flat, try the bike/walk path on the north shore of the lake starting at the East Boat Ramp.
Place to paddle (flatwater): Big Bear Lake is the hot spot for summer activities and not just because the average water temperature is 68 degrees. Paddle boarding and kayaking are best at Grout Bay, Boulder Bay, and China Island.
Place to paddle (whitewater): There are a ton of great whitewater runs around also. All that Sierra snowpack has to go somewhere.
Place to paddle with the family: If you’re just getting started, most of the marinas in Big Bear rent paddleboards and kayaks. Wake-boarding is also huge on the lake, and if you don’t own a boat that’s no problem; try out Designated Wake Sports and their cable park. If just sitting back, relaxing, and waiting for a fish to bite is your thing, boat rentals are available at six different marinas around the lake.
Place to Refuel: I like to start my day off with a little breakfast at Amangela’s in the village; it’s a nice healthy way to get going. My favorite dinner spot is Peppercorn Grill, also in the village. The food is always perfection.
Place for a Beer: When it’s time to just grab a cold brew, I like being on the water at B’s Backyard Barbecue or at the top of Snow Summit soaking in the views.
Photo courtesy Bear Mountain, Shoemaker