Hiking Lake Arrowhead in Winter: A Few Things to Know
Planning a wintertime hike around Lake Arrowhead is a great idea! Rich in natural beauty, colorful foliage and interesting wildlife, the lake area provides several winter hiking trails that range from easy to strenuous.
The key to a great winter hike is preparation
Lake Arrowhead's 5,108-foot elevation in the San Bernardino mountain range is just right for snow, but only rarely does the area get too much snow for a pleasant day hike with kids and dogs. Before heading toward the trails, know what to expect. Check weather forecasts to ensure no new storms are on the way. Prepare a checklist to make sure you bring the essentials:
- Sturdy boots and warm jacket
- Rain poncho
- Canteen and water purification tablets
- Sunglasses and sunscreen
- Map and compass
- Whistle and pocketknife
- Waterproof matches
- First aid kit
- Flashlight and batteries
- Trowel for sanitation
You probably won't need mosquito repellent on a winter hike in Lake Arrowhead, but you might want to bring some, just in case.
Cold weather hiking safety tips
A number of natural and man-made hazards exist in the forest, but they're easy to avoid, if you know what they are. Before you hike, peruse a guidebook and be sure you know what poison oak looks like. When you see it, leave it alone.
Rattlesnakes are generally lethargic during cold winter months, but they may be seen any time of year, especially near water sources. For this reason, over-the-ankle boots are advised. If you hike with dogs, keep them on a leash, and be sure your kids stay on the trail, too. If you spot a rattler, back away slowly. Most snakes will retreat if given enough space to do so, advises the USDA Forest Service
Stay on marked hiking trails and be aware of fallen trees and steep drop-offs. When you get thirsty, drink bottled water or use water purifying tablets in your canteen. Alternately, you can boil water for five minutes and cool it before drinking. Streams, ponds, and hot springs around Lake Arrowhead often host microbes that can make you sick.
When enjoying a winter hike around Lake Arrowhead, be a good planetary citizen. If you pack something in, pack it out. If you see litter along the way, pick it up, and leave Lake Arrowhead a little nicer than it was when you got there.