→ Mined with rails and ramps, Bear Mountain courts an adrenaline- soaked clientele; Snow Summit, slightly less so. For fewer people, try Chair 7, on the far side. One lift ticket works at both resorts.
→ Stop across the lake at the Big Bear Discovery Center to join one of the three-hour snowshoe tours ($30). In January there’s a “Winter Trails” demo day hosted by REI. Or gear up at North Shore Trading Company. The canoes won’t do you much good in winter, but the bentwood to- boggans are the Platon- ic ideal of wintry fun.
→ After a snow, traffic on Highway 330 to Big Bear congeals. The route along Highway 18 is longer but less congested.
→ About a half hour closer to Los Angeles than Big Bear, Mountain High in Wrightwood divides crowds with three sections. Go North for a tubing park and bunny slopes. West has a terrain park. The steeper, longer runs of the East are the least trammeled. For lift ticket deals, set up a Google alert for “Two for One Tuesdays.”
→ Serious skiers prefer Mount Baldy. Old-school by necessity, the mountain lacks the snow-making that the other resorts use to supplement warm winters, and the lifts are less than state-of-the art. But the terrain is varied, the scene quieter. And because it’s less than an hour from Pasadena, you can get there fast after a storm.