Big Bear Dog Friendly Activities

As a follow up to the Big Bear camping blog, this one will go into more details about some of the activities that are available for you and your dog when vacationing in Big Bear.  Some of these can be done year around, others like boating, will be season dependent.  I will continue to add to this post as I visit Big Bear over this next year, but for now, here are a few activities that I can recommend.

Boating with your dog


During one of the summer trips we took this year with my family, we decided take advantage of the nice weather, and rented a pontoon boat to spend a few hours on the lake.  We were staying in a cabin right down the street from Holloway’s Marina and RV Park so that’s where we went to rent the boat.  The pontoon boat rentals are dog friendly at this marina, so as long as your dog is comfortable around water, it’s a great way for everyone in the family to have some fun.  Sierra is definitely a water dog, so we knew she would love it.  The rentals start at $75 an hour and drop as you book more hours.  I haven’t really done any competitive shopping for rates, so it might be worth calling around, just make sure you ask if they have dog restrictions before booking if you plan on taking your furry friend.  We also ended up buying Sierra a life jacket, mostly because we didn’t know how long she would be swimming at one time, and wanted to make sure she stayed safe.  The life jacket ended up being a big help, she was able to stay out on the lake longer, it made it easier to pull her back onto the boat, and it also helped her from sinking to far down under the water when she jumped out of the boat.  Remember, when a dog is swimming in a lake, they can’t just float around when they get tired like we can, so make sure you are able to get the dog back into the boat relatively quickly once they get tired.  The life jacket we bought from Outward Hound, which was less than $13 on Amazon, had two handles on top, which came in very “handy.”  Even though pulling a water logged 70lb. Husky back into a boat isn’t what I would call easy, the two handles definitely made it manageable.  Without those handles, I think I would have ended up in the lake swimming next to Sierra while trying to pull her out.  Life Jacket = Life Saver, for both of us!  If you plan on having your dog in the water for a long period of time, or if they are just very dense (I’m thinking of my friend’s pit bull who sinks like a rock when in water), it might be a worthwhile investment.

IMG_0672 IMG_0673 IMG_0619After a few hours on the lake, you can bet your dog will be nice and tired when you arrive back at the dock!


(Sierra trying not to fall asleep on the boat ride back to the dock)

Eating with your Dog 

Big Bear has a lot of great outdoor activities to do year around, which also tend to work up an appetite.  There are many restaurants scattered throughout the town that will allow dogs, but a few of our go-to spots are: 572 Social (patio seating next to the walkway allows dogs), if you’re in the mood for Mexican food Azteca Grill is right off the main road, if you want some pizza or pasta in the Village area, Paoli’s Italian Country Kitchen is right on the corner, and finally, if you are in the mood for a burger BLT not only has people menus, but a separate dog menu as well!   From my experience, as long as the restaurant offers patio seating, they usually allow well behaved dogs, but always ask before sitting to avoid any issues.  Also, be aware that many restaurants will stop using the patio seating in the winter months, so if you are going up there in the winter, call ahead to see if their patio seating is still available to avoid any disappointments when you get there.  I’ll try to compile a list of restaurants that have heated patio seating during the cold months, and update everyone on here when I do.  If you have any other favorite food locations that you, and your dog, enjoy please let me know in the comments. We would love to try new food next time we are in the area!

Hiking with your Dog 

Pineknot Hike 


One of the nice things about the hiking trails in Big Bear, is that most of them are dog friendly. Because it’s in a National Forest, as long as you keep your dog on a leash, and pick up after them, they can usually join you on your adventures.  If you, and your dog, are looking for a hike that isn’t too exhausting, but still provides some decent cardio, try out the Pineknot trail.  This is a 6-mile out and back trail, and has some great views of the lake, meadows, wild flowers, and of course, the forest.  I have also heard that this trail is beautiful during the fall, when the leaves start changing colors.  I’ll have to revisit this trail in the fall, and report back on how accurate those rumors are.

IMG_0565 IMG_0543

The trail starts in the Aspen Glen Picnic Area parking lot.  If you want to park in the lot, you will need to purchase an Adventure Pass, to hang in your window, so you don’t get a ticket.  You can purchase these in advance at most sporting goods stores, including Big 5 and Sports Chalet for $5 a day or $30 for a annual pass.  If you don’t mind walking a bit more, you can find a street that allows parking curbside, and just walk to the trail head from there.  We were lucky enough to be staying in a cabin close to the trail, so we were able to just walk strait from the cabin, to the trailhead.  The trail itself is well traveled and well marked so it can usually be hiked on year-round.  There is a total of approximately 1400 ft. of elevation gain on the way up, so based on the time of year you go, make sure you properly layer your cloths so you can shed them as needed.   We went on a cooler, rainy, summer day, and had to shed our jackets and then put them back on multiple times during the trip.  You will also need to bring plenty of water, and I recommend packing a lunch, to enjoy alongside the views, at the top.  Unfortunately, the day we went it was cloudy and a bit wet at the top, but even with the bad weather, the views were still great.  I can only imagine what it would look like on a clear day!  The trip back is mostly downhill, which makes the return hike a little shorter, this was a good thing for us, because the rain has steadily picked up during the hike so we were ready to be done once we got back to the parking lot.


This is only one, of many hikes, worth checking out in Big Bear.  If you would like to get more info, and some other reviews regarding this hike, head over to the All Trails Website.  If you have taken your dog on other trails around the Big Bear area, and would like to share, please do so in the comments, I’m always looking for new trails to explore next time we are up there!  Happy hiking!


  1. This article helped a lot! I’m thinking about taking my dog up to Big Bear, just her and I. Just wondering where you stayed while you were there?


    1. Hey Macy, it depends on whether you want to camp or stay in a cabin or hotel, both are good options during the Spring and Fall but if you want to go Summer or Winter you would want to stay in a cabin or hotel because of the weather. If you would like some more info or recommendations on how to find a good one, please email me at and I will give you more details. Thanks for reading my blog, have a great week!


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