A Hidden Lake Is the Perfect Place to Cool Off Near LA

Camping or day trip? We’ve got marching orders for both.

August 23, 2018 9:00 am

Don’t let the school buses and Fantasy Football drafts fool you: summer isn’t over.

We’ve got at least two more months of the type of heat that’ll melt asphalt and give your AC a run for its money.

Best way to escape it? Go well above sea level, where the air is cooler.

That’s on offer at Green Valley Lake, a quieter option between Big Bear and Lake Arrowhead. Located at 7,000 feet above sea level, Green Valley is a man-made lake that doesn’t allow motor boats, so it’s ideal for stand-up paddleboarding, kayaking and swimming.

Below, our picks for the best daytime (and overnight) options in the area.

We like to take our Oru Kayak up to Green Valley. It fits in the trunk, folds into a seaworthy boat in 5-10 minutes and is comfortable to fish from (the lake is stocked with trout). Another option? Southern Tides’ Bote SUP, an inflatable stick that works just as well in the ocean. If you’re interested in renting, there are kayaks and SUPs available on site, and the fleet is pretty new and in good working order.

lake (3 images)

The Green Valley Trail is a relatively easy and plainly marked 2.4-mile loop that picks up on the north side of Hwy 18 between the two entrances to Snow Valley ski mountain. Along the way you’ll see a multitude of birds — stellar jays, mountain chickadees, robins, bluebirds, woodpeckers — and breath smog-free air redolent of pine, sage and mint. You’ll also likely encounter plenty of wildflowers.

Lodging and Dining
To be honest, none of the rental cabins in the area give us the feels (though there are plenty of options on Airbnb). Our ideal overnight trip would involve camping at one of the pine and spruce lined sites near the lake. But we’ve been going for day trips — if you leave early enough in the morning, the drive is about 90 minutes from central L.A. On the way back we either stop in Alhambra to have our taste buds sizzled by the Sichuan peppers at Chengdu Taste, or pop into Eagle Rock for exceptional duck tacos, squash blossom quesadillas and guac at Cacao Mexicatessen.


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