Bear Back – Site Guide

North America – USA – California

This is a guide for hang gliding enthusiasts who want to fly at Bear Mountain, a site located in the Tehachapi Mountains near the town of Stallion Springs, California. This site offers stunning views of the rolling hills and valleys, as well as excellent thermal and cross-country flying conditions. The site is suitable for intermediate to advanced pilots who have mountain flying experience and can handle high altitude and strong winds.

Site Information

Bear Mountain is a privately owned site that requires a USHPA membership and a site briefing from a local pilot or instructor. The site is managed by the Southern Sierra Hang Gliding Association (SSHGA), which also operates the nearby Weldon and Kelso Valley launch sites. Pilots must follow the SSHGA rules and regulations, as well as respect the landowner’s property and wishes. The site fee is $10 per day or $100 per year, payable at the SSHGA clubhouse or online.

The site has one launch site: the main launch. It is located on a west-facing slope near the summit of Bear Mountain, at an elevation of 6,800 feet (2,070 meters). The launch has a large grassy area with a wooden ramp and a windsock. The launch requires a smooth and fast takeoff, as there is a steep drop-off and some trees below. The launch is accessible by a paved road that requires a 2WD vehicle.

The site has one landing area: the main landing zone (LZ). It is located on a flat field near the base of the mountain, about 5 miles (8 kilometers) from the launch. The LZ is at an elevation of 4,000 feet (1,220 meters) and has a windsock, a radio, and a porta-potty. The LZ is surrounded by trees, power lines, fences, and roads, so pilots must plan their approach carefully and avoid flying over private property. The LZ is accessible by paved roads that connect to Highway 58.

Flying Conditions and Restrictions

Bear Mountain is a thermal site that works best from late spring to early fall, when the sun heats up the west-facing slope and creates strong lift along the ridge. The best time to fly is usually between 11 am and 4 pm, when the thermals are most active and consistent. The typical wind direction is west to northwest, with an average speed of 15 to 20 mph (24 to 32 kph). The site can also work with southwest or north winds, but they tend to be more cross or turbulent.

The site has some restrictions that pilots must follow:

  • Pilots must have at least a USHPA H3 rating or equivalent, with a mountain flying sign-off and a radio.
  • Pilots must sign in at the SSHGA clubhouse or online before flying, and sign out after landing.
  • Pilots must wear helmets, harnesses, reserve parachutes, and radios.
  • Pilots must fly with a buddy system and maintain radio contact with each other.
  • Pilots must respect the airspace rules and avoid flying over restricted areas such as Tehachapi Airport, Stallion Springs Resort, Cummings Valley Wildlife Area, and private property.
  • Pilots must not fly over or land on the launch or the road leading to it.
  • Pilots must not fly in clouds or in conditions beyond their skill level.

Best Times to Fly and Visit

The best times to fly at Bear Mountain are from May to October, when the weather is warm and dry, and the thermals are strong and reliable. The site can also be flown in other months, but the conditions may be less favorable or more unpredictable. The site is usually closed during winter due to snow.

The best times to visit Bear Mountain are from June to September, when the Tehachapi area offers many recreational activities such as hiking, biking, golfing, fishing, camping, and skiing. The area also hosts several events and festivals throughout the year, such as the Tehachapi Mountain Festival, the Tehachapi GranFondo Cycling Event, the Tehachapi Apple Festival, and the Tehachapi Wine Walk.

More Information

For more information about flying at Bear Mountain, please visit the following websites or contact the following people:

  • USHPA:
  • Tehachapi Visitor Center:
  • Tehachapi Weather:

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