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Camping With a Dog

Unlike cats, dogs are usually pretty self-sufficient, so it’s easy for their needs to be overlooked when you take them on a trip. But when you’re camping or hiking with your pet, there are certain things you should plan for to make sure they stay safe and happy. Here are a few of the best tips for camping with a dog:

Tips for Camping With a Dog

Additional Resources:


What do I need to know about taking my dog camping?

What if my dog sustains an injury on our trip?

How do I check for ticks on my pet?

Heatstroke and my pup: what do I need to know?


How do I locate dog-friendly campsites?

What are the potential camping-related dangers for my dog?


What camping gear does my dog need?

What should I put in my dog’s first aid kit?

Is a collar or harness best for my dog during our camping trip?

Being prepared for a camping trip means more than just making sure you have a tent and sleeping bag; it also means bringing along anything your pet may need to stay comfortable. Think about ticks and other insects, sleeping arrangements, and boots for hiking to protect his sensitive paws.

Castle Rock Trail – Big Bear Lake Natural Landmark

Castle Rock Trail is a natural landmark that can be seen all over the valley and is located 1 mile east of the dam in Big Bear Lake. Because Castle Rock Trail is one of the most popular hiking spots in Big Bear Lake, it can get crowded. If you prefer to hike in peace, early morning is best. The trail is off Highway 18/Big Bear Blvd, which is a very busy main road. Parking is available in the turn out next to the small wooden Castle Rock Trail sign. There are a few more parking spots across the street as well, but they are very limited. There is a small incline during the first part of the hike, about 1/3 miles in. Once you pass this incline, the hike becomes much easier. One thing to keep in mind, as with any high altitude hike, is to pace yourself so you don’t exhaust yourself early. Most of the trail is covered and shaded by trees. Castle Rock Trail is great for families with kids and dogs. During the spring, there is still typically lots of snow, so it can be a bit slippery. Come prepared with hiking shoes and you should not have a problem. When the the snow is melting, you can actually hear and see the water run off on the rocks. In total, the Castle Rock Trail hike takes about 1 hour round trip. When you reach the huge boulders, you can actually climb them, but be careful as it can be slippery. If you do decide to climb all the way up these boulders, the views are spectacular. You are surrounded by trees, boulders and incredible views of Big Bear Lake. Castle Rock Trail is a beautiful forest setting and is one of our favorite hikes in Big Bear Lake!

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Big Bear Lake Activities

Lake activities are one of the most anticipated and popular things to do in Big Bear. Temperatures are warm and it’s a perfect place to spend the day either on shore or in the water. Whether you’d like to keep costs down or spend money, there are a variety of options when it comes to spending time at Big Bear Lake.

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Boat rentals are one of the easiest ways to get out on the lake. There are 6 different marinas in Big Bear that offer a variety of services from renting a boat to guided tours of the lake. Some of them offer additional unique experiences as well, such as the Pirate Ship at Halloway’s Marina & RV Park and the Jungle Boat at Captain John’s Fawn Harbor & Marina.

Kayaking, canoeing, and paddle-boarding are all great ways to get out on the water and get some exercise at the same time. Guests staying with Village Reservations during the summer months can give it a try with free and discounted rentals from Getboards Ride Shop or a number of similar locations that offer rentals, lake tours, classes and lessons as well. With about 22 miles of shoreline, you can make it an all day experience or just paddle around for as little as an hour.

Swimming in the lake is allowed within 50′ of the shoreline and the best place to go is the north side of the lake for public access. There are two public launch ramps that have nice beach areas situated on either side of the facilities as well as access from the national forest picnic areas that line the north shore of the lake. Make sure you have your adventure pass for parking and make a day of it!

If you have your own boat, kayak or another water vessel, the Municipal Water District has two public launch ramps available that can help you with permitting and getting yourself into the water. The launch ramps typically open in early April and stay open all summer until the lake closes in late November, weather permitting. You can purchase all necessary permits at each location as well as take care of a variety of other needs as you prepare to get on the water.

If you don’t want to get wet, you can go shore fishing while you’re visiting Big Bear. Big Bear Lake is home to Rainbow Trout, Bass, Catfish, Bluegill, and Carp. Fishing licenses are required for those over 16 years old and most of the lake is available for fishing unless otherwise posted. Bring your pole and your favorite bait and relax as you wait for that first bite.

No matter what your reason for visiting Big Bear, you definitely don’t want to miss out on all the lake activities Big Bear Lake has to offer!

Want to find out which marina we go to or where our favorite swimming hole is? Give us a call and we can tell you all about it while we help you book a cabin for your “home away from home” Big Bear experience.

The view from the Butler Peak Fire Lookout Station is nothing short of amazing. It boasts incredible 360° views – including views of Big Bear Valley, Big Bear Lake, Lake Arrowhead, Apple Valley, San Gorgonio Peak, and the Inland Empire. The elevation is 8500 ft! It has been said that on a clear day, you can see all the way to Catalina Island from Butler Peak.

The drive to Butler Peak is easy. Start on Fawnskin (located on the north shore side of Big Bear Lake – near the fire station) and head north on Rim of the World Drive. Butler PeakTurn left on Forest Road2N13 and continue to follow 2N13 until you see signage for 2N13C on your left. When you reach 2N13C, turn left and continue to the end of the road. The roads were just recently re-opened to the public last year for the first time since the 2007 fire. However, they are in rough shape and are extremely narrow, so low clearance vehicles are not advised.

On our most recent trip to Butler Peak, we took a 4×4 and in total, it took about 35 minutes. Although we did not time it exactly we estimated it was about 8 miles up and back. You can also hike or mountain bike (experience recommended!). In total, we estimated that it was about 8 miles round trip. At the start of the drive, we passed the area where the 2007 fire in Big Bear Lake passed through. It was an eerie experience to see the damage done by the fire. Directly following this, we reached the top, where there is a small parking area.

Butler Peak

The hike to the tower on Butler Peak Trail is fairly short and the trail is easy enough. It took us a few minutes to get to “The Stairway to Heaven”. With the way the sun’s rays shine down, it’s easy to see how it acquired this infamous nickname. We were all a little winded (8,500 ft of elevation will do that!) by the time we reached the stairs, which are quite narrow by the way, and heart rates were increasing. At the top of the stairs, we were greeted by volunteer rangers who informed us that Butler Peak just celebrated its 80th birthday.

As a word of advice, make sure to bring a sweater or light jacket, as it does get quite windy up there.

Having visited many spectacular destinations, I can honestly say that Butler Peak is one of my favorites. So next time you visit Big Bear Lake and are looking for a free adventure, grab your Go-Pro and head up to Butler Peak!