Green Valley Lake sunset

Green Valley Lake, California: The Perfect Weekend Getaway

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Recently, some friends of ours asked if we wanted to have a mountain getaway to escape the heat of Southern California. Of course, our answer was yes! Since we’ve already been to Big Bear and Lake Havasu, we decided on a spot dubbed the “Hidden Gem” of the San Bernardino Mountains. Green Valley Lake, California. It most certainly did not disappoint. In fact, Green Valley Lake ended up being the perfect weekend getaway!

Where is Green Valley Lake, California

Green Valley Lake, California is located right between Lake Arrowhead and Big Bear Lake. (I’ll explain why this is awesome in a little bit.) As far as where it is located within California, Green Valley Lake is around two and half hours away from San Diego and a little over two hours from Los Angeles. The close proximity makes the rustic mountain town a great weekend destination!

Green Valley Lake California Drive

Side note: If you get car sick, good luck! The drive up the mountain to Green Valley Lake has a TON of turns. Don’t sit in the back of the car if you get queasy at all!

Where to Stay in Green Valley Lake, California

Green Valley Lake has a population of about 300 people so don’t expect to stay at any big hotel chains in this mountain town. In fact, there aren’t any hotels in the entire town. Because to this, you’ll have to stay in a nice cozy cabin and be one with nature. 

Our cabin, named the “Nut House” by the owners, was a great home base! It was spacious, unique, and offered some of the most incredible views on the massive back deck. I mean seriously, look at those views!

Green Valley Lake sunset

We found our cabin on VRBO but you can also find accommodations on AirBnB and Expedia

Things to do in Green Valley Lake, California

Explore “downtown” and the lake

The first thing we did when we arrived at Green Valley Lake was explore the “downtown” area. Downtown is about one city block but it is a cute little area on the lake and parking is free! Be sure to check out the Black Dog Shoppe for some baked goods and souvenirs. Walk a little further down the street, and you can check out the cute community garden.

Us Green Valley Lake Garden

After you check out downtown, take the walking path around the lake. Anyone can walk the path (even small kids!), and the loop will take you about a half hour. During the walk, you will have gorgeous views of the lake and the surrounding area. 

If you have kids, there is a playground on the eastern side behind Green Valley Lake Beach. If the water is too cold to swim in, this is a great spot to let the little ones burn off some energy!

Go Fishing

Green Valley Lake fishing

If you happen to be a fisherman, Green Valley Lake is a great spot to fish! The lake is open for fishing from May till October and is regularly stocked with trout. Anglers also hook bass, crappie, and catfish. Fishing in Green Valley Lake is allowed daily from 5:30 a.m till 8:00 p.m. and locations are first come first serve.

Go Mountain Biking

In my opinion, exploring a new area by bike might be my favorite thing to do. Luckily, there are a bunch of mountain biking trails in and around Green Valley Lake, and the views are second to none! 

There aren’t any locations in town to rent a bike, so unfortunately you have to bring your own bike with you. The Yakima HighRoad Roof Rack is our rack of choice when it comes to transporting my mountain bike. But, however you get your bike there, you will be glad that you brought it!

Yakima High Road

Just a short, 150 foot ride away from the “Nut House” was Edison Road or 2N83 this was a beautiful downhill (somewhat sandy at times) ride on a forest service road. I connected it with Crab Flats Road which had a little elevation gain, and turned on to Green Valley Lake Road for a quick little 4.5 mile lake loop. 

If you are going to ride on Green Valley Lake Road, make sure you have a blinking red light or a bright colored shirt or jersey, it gets busy. 

Since you are nestled in the San Bernardino National Forest, there are a ton of forest service roads and trails just waiting to be explored! When in doubt, check out Ride With GPS for awesome routes. 

Take a Hike

Like mountain biking, hikes are plentiful. We did a quick hike on the 2N83, and the views were stunning! It was insanely windy, but the views were spectacular. 

Other hikes near Green Valley Lake include the loop around the lake, the 4.6 mile Little Green Valley Trail 3W10, and Fisherman’s Camp Crab Tree Trail. This 4.4 mile hike takes you to some of the best swimming holes in Southern California. Also, camping at Fisherman’s Camp is supposed to be incredible! We unfortunately couldn’t do it since we had little ones with us. 

Visit Lake Arrowhead or Big Bear

One of my favorite parts about Green Valley Lake is its proximity to other, significantly more popular California lake destinations. You get to explore and enjoy these crowded destinations but go back to peace, quiet, and nature.

Lake Arrowhead

Lake Arrowhead, is nestled in the “Alps of Southern California” just a short half hour car ride from Green Valley Lake. On the drive in, keep your eyes open because you will see some absolutely gorgeous homes . . . I mean, mansions!

The Lake Arrowhead Village is adorable and has a ton of cute shops and restaurants. I mean look at it, how could you not love it?

Lake Arrowhead

One of our favorite spots to hang out in Lake Arrowhead is the Lake Arrowhead Brewing Company. The brewery is located in a converted warehouse and is a great spot to relax and enjoy its award-winning beer. They even have delicious food trucks on scene and are dog and kid friendly! 

Lake Arrowhead Brewing Co

Big Bear Lake

We have done an entire post on Big Bear Lake, California, so if you are planning on visiting, I highly suggest you check it out! 

Big Bear is about a 40-50 minute drive away from Green Valley Lake and like Lake Arrowhead, the village boasts an abundant amount of cute shops and restaurants. If you get the chance to visit Big Bear when you are in Green Valley Lake, you can’t miss Boulder Bay Park, breakfast at Grizzly Manor Cafe and the world famous Alpine Slide!

I really hope you consider visiting Green Valley Lake, California for an incredible weekend getaway. It boasts the perfect amount of peace, relaxation, and outdoor fun. If you have any questions, feel free to leave some comments below! 

If mountains and California are your thing, definitely check out Family Friendly Things to do in Julian, California, Whitewater Preserve: An Oasis in California’s Palm Desert, and 5 Scenic & Dog Friendly Hikes in Southern California

Frequently Asked Questions

Can you swim in Green Valley Lake? Yes, you can swim in Green Valley Lake, California. In fact, there is a little beach located on the lake that is perfect for swimming, sunbathing and relaxing!

Are dogs allowed at Green Valley Lake? Yes, dogs are allowed at Green Valley Lake! There is even a designated spot in the lake where dogs are allowed to swim. You can find this location between the boat rental and beach area.

What is the elevation at Green Valley Lake, California? Green Valley Lake is located at 7,000 feet in elevation! That is over a mile high, making it one of the highest communities in California and putting it about 1,800 feet higher than Denver, Colorado! 

Are there grocery stores in Green Valley Lake, California? There are a few small markets and general stores in Green Valley Lake, but I HIGHLY suggest that you visit a grocery store on your way into Green Valley Lake. Sprouts Farmers Market in Redlands is probably the quickest stop on the way and had everything we needed. 

Andrew Schloe

I love surfing, scuba diving, and soaking in a good sunset at the beach. There is a good chance you will find me by water. Favorite Destination: Great Ocean Road, Australia.

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