LAKE ARROWHEAD (CBSLA) — The San Bernardino National Forest said local mountains will be open this Memorial Day weekend for residents and visitors alike.
“It’s really nice to be able to get out and not have to wear a mask,” Mike Whisner, a Lake Arrowhead resident, said.
And it seems that a number of people agree as officials report an unmanageable number of people have been traveling to the area lately to visit popular hiking trails and watering holes.
“I don’t blame them a bit,” Whisner said. “I mean, look at it. It’s beautiful!”
The problem is that visitors are creating gridlocked traffic on single-lane forest service roads and overcrowding parking lots.
On at least to occasions, forest officials said first responders got stuck, once when they were trying to rescue an injured hiker.
In an effort to keep people safe, a 2.5-mile stretch along Deep Creek — from Splinter’s Cabin Trailhead to Devil’s Hole, including Aztec Falls — will be closed starting Friday. Officials said the closure could last an entire year.
“I think it’s a little much,” Andrew Whisner, a Lake Arrowhead resident, said.
But for other residents, the increased traffic makes the closure necessary.
“The last two weeks have been miserable,” Cindee Smith, a Lytle Creek resident, said.
She said visitors have been backing up the only road in and out of town, parking in roadways and turning a 7-mile drive up the hill into a 25-minute ordeal.
She said she understands that people are itching to get outside, but the sheer number of people were creating a safety issue.
“We will never get out of here if there’s a fire,” she said. “And neither will they.”
Big Bear Marina will also reopen Friday, though social distancing and limits on rental boat usage will be in effect. And Big Bear City said it would not be enforcing the governor’s stay-at-home orders as it welcomed visitors.