Camping at Lake Arrowhead to get out of Los Angeles (for the last weekend)

Oct 10, 2010 by Lindsay Pullin

I’m always looking for a nice weekend out of the city to rejuvenate my mind–with its clear air, actually sky-blue skies, and squirrels bounding free without fear of the 405.

This past weekend found me caravanning up in the San Bernardino Mountains.

My city friends and I were able to spend a night outside under the stars, so we pooled our resources, shared some tents and some sleeping bags, and after a prolonged march around Albertson’s, drove the 2 hours inland and were then headed up-mountain to our site.

We stayed at Dogwood, one of two campgrounds in the Lake Arrowhead area (North Shore Area being the other). One of our group had called ahead to book our campsite, and had even paid online (www.rec.gov). Collecting firewood

When we got there, we only paid $5 to park both of the 2 cars we drove to Lake Arrowhead. There was firewood available to buy for $9; but we gathered our own because we were allowed to have a small campfire.

This is, perhaps, not camping in the traditional sense. We weren’t alone, we were one of many groups, because we could see our neighbors. There were bathrooms to use (extremely clean), and we didn’t even have to clean out our campfire ash.

In the end, we achieved what we were all looking for: some time outdoors hiking, no blackberries, conversation around a campfire (and for me personally, a whole lot of smores).

I recommend bringing food to cook over the fire, sleeping bags, wool socks (it was 42 degrees at night) and hiking shoes for the surrounding trails.

Our group also brought a bean bag bocce ball; but between the hiking and the beer, we were content to sit around a camp fire, play word games, and tell stories.

All of our Blackberries, mysteriously, (but luckily), still had reception, but we had a strict cell phone off policy for our camping weekend.

Breakfast was Spaghettios and fruit (interesting mix, but heating up anything over a fire is strangely satisfying). After a little bit of hanging out, we did an extensive pack up and cleaned up our site (I don’t have to remind you to always leave it cleaner how it was), and off we drove to forage for coffee.

On our drive down, we stopped at Lake Arrowhead and walked around, looking at the giant carp through the clear water and the ducks riding the surf of the water skiers.

October 30th, is the last day of the season to hit up these campgrounds. So hurry and make a reservation for a site, as they won’t be open again until May. The days are hot, but the nights were a little chilly, so warm night clothes is appropriate.

Also, be prepared for Lake Arrowhead’s being 1 mile higher in altitude than sea level, so the air is thinner (and cleaner and more satisfying to breath), but this can make hiking or running around in general a little more difficult. Also, this may sound obvious, but remember to lock all food and trash up in your CAR as there are bears, and they’re as hungry as Yogi, and a little more destructive if they happen upon your campsite for a picnic basket (rare, but it does happen).

Pets are welcome at some sites (check first), and we had a spigot, but no electricity (for all the RV’s). There’s also camp grounds for larger groups (30-90 people), and some first come first serve sites that are more primitive and remote (although, there are still bathrooms and other amenities available through a paved road, go figure).

So all in all, it’s a blast. Why not go clear your head before the season ends and the snow comes at Lake Arrowhead (and that makes for another reason to head to the mountains once again).

Oh, and if you’re not into camping, here’s a link to some great hotels at Lake Arrowhead.

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