Mount Baldy is a slice of mountain paradise just a short jaunt from the Los Angeles metro area. The majestic peak at Mount Baldy towers high over the San Gabriel Mountains with an elevation over 10,000 feet. There are ample opportunities for hiking and biking in the warmer months, with trails that will delight beginners as well as challenging options that end in unparalleled vistas for experienced hikers.
On a clear day here, you can see the Pacific Ocean in one direction and the Mojave Desert in the other. Of course, Mount Baldy is well-known as a hot destination for skiing, tubing, and snowboarding when the snowfall starts. Cozy restaurants, quaint shops, and charming bars dot the road through town and nearby Claremont offers plenty of places to rest your head.
Mount Baldy is 418 miles south of San Francisco via I-5 S. It’s a long drive for a weekend trip, but the central California highways will fly by quickly if you’re traveling with a good friend, snacks, and some rockin’ tunes. Merge onto I-80 E toward Oakland and keep left toward Berkley/Sacramento/I-580 W/San Rafael. Merge onto I-580 E via exit 8B toward CA-24/Hayward-Stockton. Follow this road for about 63 miles until I-580 E becomes I-5 S. This is the longest portion of your road trip and it’s a straight shot down the 5 for about 225 miles. When you cross 166, keep your eye peeled for the fork ahead; you’ll stay left on I-5 S, then take exit 161A for I-210 toward Pasadena. Continue onto I-210 E for 24 miles, then stay right at the fork to follow signs for I-210/San Bernardino/Ventura/CA-134. You’re getting warmer. Keep left here to follow signs to I-210 E/Fwy San Bernardino and merge onto I-210 E. 18.5 miles later, it will turn into CA-210.
Take exit 52 toward Base Line Road. Make a left on Baseline then a quick right on Padua Ave. Just up the road, make a right on Mt Baldy Road and follow the signs to the ski area or trails.
The Claremont Lodge, just 20 minutes from skiing at Mount Baldy, is an excellent choice for budget travelers. The rooms are dated but very clean and offer amenities like coffee machines, free Wi-Fi, and satellite TV – some even have hot tubs. The poolside terrace is a great place to lounge and guests rave about the friendly staff. Guests at the lodge enjoy conveniences like on-site laundry and express check-in/check-out.
The Hotel Double Tree Claremont features luxuriously appointed rooms with balconies, comfortable beds, spacious bathrooms, and free Wi-Fi. The Essential Day Spa and Salon located on the property offers a full range of services to guests and the on-site restaurant and bar make this full-service hotel an excellent choice for visitors who value convenience. Break a sweat in the fitness center and then relax in the hot tub before heading out for a day at nearby Mount Baldy.
The Knights Inn Claremont is another great choice for travelers looking for a value stay. The rooms are spacious and clean, with comfortable beds and daily housekeeping service. The friendly proprietors speak English, Spanish, and Hindi and the front desk is staffed 24/7 for your convenience. There’s a seasonal outdoor pool and all rooms are non-smoking. The price and location here really can’t be beat.
Mount Baldy Lodge is a traditional American pub serving up delicious, hearty fare like gourmet burgers and massive baskets of fries. Set in an old school cabin, this place oozes charm and the friendly atmosphere is contagious. Vegetarians will be pleasantly surprised by choices like vegan chili and veggie burgers on the menu. This is also a popular spot for breakfast, which is served until noon. Pool tables and roaring fireplaces add to the ambiance.
The Last Drop Café in Claremont is a great place to grab breakfast or a picnic lunch to go for those lodging in town. They’re open weekdays until 7:00 pm and close at 6:00 pm on Saturday and Sunday. This cute little café makes a mean cup of joe and their sandwiches are super fresh and served up fast. Try Mike’s Favorite, a turkey and roast beef combo with all the fixings. There are great vegetarian and vegan options (even carnivores will love the vegan oatmeal cookie) and it’s a perfect place to take the kids.
The Buckhorn Pub is another Mount Baldy mainstay. They do simple comfort food right and it’s a great place to stop for a filling meal and a delicious microbrew after a long day on the slopes. The building dates to 1888, when it housed the local post office, and the vintage charm in this cozy restaurant make it a true diamond in the rough. Guests can’t stop raving about the incredibly tender tri-tip and the potato salad side is a perennial winner. Save room for the home-made ice cream bars for dessert! Open Thursday through Sunday for dinner, with lunch service on Saturday and Sunday.
Ice House Canyon Trail is a popular hiking destination that offers incredible scenery and endless options. The 3.5 miles straight up to the saddle can be somewhat challenging, but the scenic vistas, majestic redwoods, and opportunities for wildlife viewing make it well worth the effort. More experienced hikers may want to continue up several other trails to Cucamonga Peaks, Baldy Gulch, or Bighorn Peak. The solitude at the top is rejuvenating. The lower trails can be crowded on weekends, so arrive early to get a head start. There are no water stations; guests will want to come well-stocked with plenty to drink.
All that time spent outdoors can be exhausting, and travelers will love taking a break at the Folk Music Center in nearby Claremont. The shop has an amazing array of instruments and it’s so much fun to browse – the friendly staff encourages visitors to try their hand at playing. But the Folk Music Center Museum here is the real draw. It features hundreds of rare and unusual musical instruments and artifacts from around the world. The center regularly hosts concerts, dance performances, workshops, and roving exhibits. This interactive museum is fun for the whole family.
This is hands-down one of the coolest museums in Los Angeles County. This small museum, located on a high school campus, features two circular exhibit areas that total 4,000 square feet. The Hall of Footprints showcases a collection of fossils and a prep lab that the public can view. The Hall of Life presents the 4.6-billion-year history of life on earth with large murals, educational exhibits, artifacts, and more. Open Monday through Friday from 8 am – 4 pm and Saturday from 1 – 4 pm. General admission is $9, $7 for youth, seniors, and students.
Mount Baldy Ski Area is a popular destination with over 50 trails for skiing, snowboarding, and tubing. It’s just $5 to park and rentals and lessons are available for a fee. You really can’t beat world class skiing right in the Los Angeles metro area. Kids and adults alike will have a raucous good time tubing down the slopes (no experience required). Mount Baldy Ski Area isn’t just for winter sports. When the snow melts, the hiking trails here are top-notch and provide excellent routes for all skill levels. The best part? The chair lifts are open year-round. They provide easy access to the upper trails if you’re short on time or hauling a bicycle.
Mount Baldy Road is a must-do attraction. It’s 12 miles through majestic pines, snow-capped peaks, and scenery that just keeps getting better as the elevation rises. Stop off to enjoy one of the quaint shops or restaurants, or just to take in the views of the river basin below. Hiking trails abound with access from Mount Baldy Road – the trek to San Antonio Falls is better left for experienced hikers, but access to Yosemite Falls is safe and relatively accessible for beginners. The road eventually splits, and the final leg up to the ski area can be treacherous in winter. Go slow and watch for black ice on the switchbacks.