The Lay of the Land
Get ready for some trombone. In other words, we don’t mean to toot our own horn, but, when you got a lot to toot about…
Bear Valley is located on nationally-designated scenic byway Highway 4. We share the Highway 4 corridor with Calaveras Big Trees State Park, Moaning and Mercer Caverns, and the Murphys wine region to the west. Just beyond Bear Valley, the highway narrows into a road that traverses the mountain passes and deposits the adventurous driver (an hour plus drive for 36 miles) in Markleeville, the East Fork of the Carson River and Grover Hot Springs to the east. National Forest and Wilderness lands, along with the rivers, lakes and trails that lie therein, surround the town on all sides. Bear Valley Village is tucked beneath ridges that make up a portion of the skiing and boarding terrain at Bear Valley Mountain. The two wooden bear carvings near the highway mark the entrance to town. Across from the entrance lies what locals colloquially call “The Meadow.” In the summer, cattle graze high country grasses while in winter, the expanse is transformed into a cross country skiing wonderland.
The village consists of all Bear Valley Condos, businesses and lots for winter parking. Just beyond the village, the subdivision begins. Here is where all Bear Valley Homes are located. Here, too, lies the boundary of plowing. Click here for more information on the winter snowbound subdivision. About three miles beyond the carved bears and turnoff to the village, is California’s shortest highway. Meet Highway 207, the two-mile stretch of road that leads to Bear Valley Mountain. Should you stay on Highway 4 (waving a friendly hello to Highway 207 as you pass by), you’ll quickly arrive at the Lake Alpine Recreation Basin. This is the end of the road, so to speak, during winter, when Ebbetts Pass closes to vehicle traffic, but opens to touring ski, snowshoe and snowmobile traffic as a Sno-Park. During summer, Lake Alpine is a favorite for fishing, kayaking, swimming and hiking.
Five miles west of the entrance into the village, Sky High Ranch subdivision is situated off of Skyline Road. Between Sky High Ranch and Bear Valley is the turnoff to the Spicer Reservoir Recreation Area. This is a Sno-Park in winter whose groomed roads can be enjoyed on foot, ski, snowshoe, snowmobile and sled! Both Lake Alpine and Spicer Sno-Parks require a parking pass to access. During summer, this road leads to easy access of the Stanislaus River as well as Utica and Union Lakes and Spicer Reservoir where hiking, fishing and kayaking opportunities abound.