If you want an easy weekend getaway from Los Angeles without having to spend much time in the car, then Mt. Baldy Lodge should be on your map!
For Angelenos and those visiting who want to soak in some different scenery from the typical stargazing in Hollywood or cruising the coastline, this comfy, cozy mountain retreat makes you feel hundreds of miles away.
Just about an hour outside of L.A. and a short 4-mile drive up Mt. Baldy (part of the San Gabriel Mountains) the Lodge is situated at 4,000 ft elevation, tucked into a beautifully tree-lined road that is quite easy to get to.
The quaint mountain mini-resort, built in 1914, offers six cabins scattered around the main Lodge — a comfy and spacious bar and restaurant decked out with dark wood, stone fireplaces, a pool table and loads of charm.
A day trip up to the restaurant is worth the drive alone for lunch or dinner, and if you’re staying overnight, the outdoor patio closes early so as not to disturb the guests. They do a pretty good job of keeping the noise inside the restaurant, which I was unsure about at first. So if you feel like some privacy, head on back to your cabin. Feeling social? You can bop in and out of the Lodge for a drink and a bite and get a Mt. Baldy history lesson from the locals. It’s a family-owned business and they treat their regulars and guests as such — like they’re part of the family.
One of the main rules however…NO COOLERS! All food and drink must be purchased from the restaurant, which didn’t bother me because they were cool with bringing drinks back to the cabin and they give you buckets of ice for bottles of beer that you purchase, etc. There are no kitchens in the cabins but their sprawling menu is sure to satisfy, from your choice of comfort foods like grilled cheese and chili cheese fries, to burgers, steaks and salads, even a Chicken Cordon Bleu. The Lodge opens for lunch at 11am during the week, so plan accordingly if you’re there Monday-Friday! Weekends, they do breakfast from 9-11:30am and then open for lunch at noon.
The six stand-alone cabins all boast their very own fireplace, so make sure to BYOF (Bring your own firewood!) The cabins all have a front porch or deck, with benches to sit and relax on outside for some fresh air and taking in some Baldy beauty. The rates are $127-$175 for one night, cheaper if you book multiple nights. 2-person to 4-person cabins.
Other activities to do outside? Walk a few yards from the outdoor patio and you have your choice between Ping Pong, Corn Hole, Basketball, an area for Horseshoes, a sand Volleyball court and even an outdoor pool and diving board for warm-weathered months!
After a couple days of relaxing in and out of the Lodge, it was time to explore the rest of Mt. Baldy! Drive up the winding Mt. Baldy Rd another few miles and you’ll reach a parking lot for the ski lift. Sugarpine Chair Lift is open even when there’s no snow and for $25/person, you can take a 15-minute scenic ride up to Top of the Notch restaurant, and FYI it’s the only way to get up there!
Inside is a huge hall/lodge lined with cafeteria tables beneath high ceilings decorated with ski décor, not to mention a bar famously titled “The Mt. Baldy Yacht Club” by locals. They serve beer, wine and Soju-based cocktails. Be sure to try the Hot Spiced Wine, YUM! Outside on the wrap-around deck, there are picnic tables to enjoy panoramic views of Baldy while you’re scarfing down your burger and dranks.
Even when there’s no snow, you can still take your kids tubing or up for a ski lesson in fall and winter months, as they have a decent patch of manmade snow on their version of a bunny hill.
I missed out on hitting the hiking trails this trip unfortunately, but a moderate hike (1.2 miles and a little steep) I wanted to do was up to San Antonio Falls, a 75-foot multi-tiered waterfall. This trail begins about 3/4 of a mile down the mountain from the Sugarpine Chair Lift lot, on your right hand side. There are several others, but they seemed a bit steep in the descriptions, so I didn’t think my Converse were going to cut it!
Mt. Baldy is one of L.A.‘s best kept secrets and a top notch alternative to trendy and sometimes overcrowded Big Bear. I’m anxious to get back ASAP and enjoy another round of this magical mountain escape, only this time freshly dumped with snow!