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Mount Baldy is where you go to get away from it all, without really being that far from it all. Located just an hour’s drive from Los Angeles and all the urban amenities it offers, the tiny, unincorporated Mount Baldy — perched in the San Gabriel Mountains and enrobed by the Angeles National Forest — feels worlds away. The rustic downtown is home to a visitor center, a handful of businesses, a chapel, a school, and not much else. Nearby is a serene Zen Center, and past that, Mt. Baldy Resort, which comes alive with skiers, snow tubers, and snowboarders every winter. The village borrows its name from nearby Mount San Antonio — known by its nickname Mt. Baldy — the tallest peak in the San Gabriel range. Determined mountaineers arrive year round to hike to the mountain’s 10,064-foot (3,067-meter) summit, but there are plenty of less taxing walks to be found in this enormous forest. Knowing that the big city bustle is just a short drive away is part of what makes this mountain town such an idyllic escape.
Fly into Ontario International Airport (ONT), located 30 minutes’ drive from Mount Baldy, and opt for a rental car to explore the town and its surrounding wilderness.
Summers in Mount Baldy are warm and sunny, but this is the mountains so it’s rarely scorching, and evenings can still be crisp. Summertime is peak season for hiking, horseback riding, swimming, and fishing. In fall, temperatures drop and the oak thickets growing alongside dense conifer stands turn bright gold. Cold winters bring snow and the town hums with activity as visitors make their way to the slopes. In spring the snow thaws, filling the streams and ponds, and Bear Creek Trail blooms with such vibrant wildflowers as California fuchsias and yellow mule’s ears.
You’ll find winter entertainment of every speed at this popular resort. With more than 800 acres of skiable terrain and a thrilling 2,100-foot vertical drop, there’s plenty for skiers and snowboarders to love. A tubing park provides hours of fun for kids and the young at heart, and scenic lift rides carry you past alpine views before depositing you on a mountain top with a restaurant serving up snacks, hot cocoa, and adult beverages.
This 7.2-mile round-trip ramble — which you can pick up close to the town center — showcases many of the natural features that make the Angeles National Forest so special, including alpine flora, impressive boulders, and a wooded canyon cleaved by a burbling stream. The stone ruins of recreational cabins that give the trail its name are the standout features here.
Micheal Rubel purchased a defunct citrus farm in the Glendora foothills in 1959 and spent nearly 30 years building a castle of discarded materials. The result is a six-story temple to folk art made of rock, cement, wine bottles, and found objects such as sand-filled rubber gloves and even a toaster. The castle is on the National Register of Historic Places, and tours are offered by the Glendora Historical Society. Located at the base of the San Gabriel Mountains, it’s a perfect stop on the way to or from Mount Baldy.