Psst. Can you keep a secret? Green Valley Lake, nestled at 7,000 feet in the San Bernardino Mountains right between Big Bear Lake and Lake Arrowhead, has all the watery charm of those popular bodies of water, just on a smaller scale, and decidedly without crowds—or motorized boats.
Start your day off by renting a kayak, a canoe, or a stand-up paddleboard from the beachfront boathouse. Tour the shoreline while you enjoy the crystal-clear water, gentle breeze, and brilliant blue skies.
Then take to the woods. Dog-friendly Little Green Valley Trail, located on the north side of Highway 18 between the two entrances of Snow Valley ski area, is the perfect way to explore the surrounding forests. The 2.4-mile loop trail is short and sweet but offers a lot of bang for your buck. The ascending path may have you huffing and puffing as you enjoy the colors of blooming wildflowers such as golden yarrow, coyote mint, giant lupine, and Indian paintbrush. As you reach the meadow near the halfway point, keep your ears open for the summer tunes of plentiful bird species.
Ready to cool down? Drive back to the lake and head to the partitioned beach and swimming area ($5 adult entry) and enjoy the lake’s refreshing water and surrounding warm sand.
To reach Green Valley Lake, take SR-18 to Green Valley Lake Rd. Turn north and continue 3.7 miles. Then turn left on Lakeside Dr., right on Yukon Dr., and straight on Wild Rose Dr. Daytime parking is free. Campsites are $23 a night—some are first-come, first-served; others can be reserved through Recreation.gov. Dog-friendly!