Mt. Baldy is a winter playground worth exploring. Although Mt. Baldy has one of the most technical ski hills in the region, you don’t have to ski or board to enjoy what this mountain has to offer. Several snow-play areas parallel the road on the way to the ski resort. Snow-play areas include plenty of parking and small, snow-covered hills for sledding and snowball throwing.
Several local resorts offer accommodations, restaurants and restrooms for their patrons. If you’re looking for a real adventure, head to the top of Mt. Baldy Road and take the first ski lift to the Mt. Baldy Notch. There you’ll find the Top of the Notch restaurant & bar with a deck that offers outstanding views of the Inland Empire and beyond, a tubing park, restrooms, equipment rental, ski school and plenty of great snow. Lift tickets are discounted for those who are just looking for a little snow play or to enjoy the scenic views.
For skiers and boarders, not only is Mt. Baldy one of the least crowded local resorts but it also offers the most challenging terrain in the region. Four lifts provide access to over 17 runs that are mostly for the advanced skier/boarder. Nearly 70% of Mt. Baldy’s terrain is black diamond with only 5% available for beginners. This is not one of the better places for beginners. Most of the year the lower portion of the mountain is inaccessible due to low snow. The first lift is then a skis and boards-off ride to the notch where other lifts branch out to surrounding peaks.
In seasons of good snowfall, the bottom portion opens up effectively doubling the downhill distance of the resort with runs that are sure to please. If Mt. Baldy has any downfalls it’s that the warm Southern California days and cool evenings begin to ice the runs in the days following a snowfall. When this occurs, Locals know to ski the sunny, west side of the mountain until the steeper east side warms up and the iced areas soften to a thick powder consistency. The views from the slopes are incredible. To the north the brown, desert region where Interstate 15 can be spotted climbing the Cajon Pass over the San Andreas Fault to the high desert region of Victorville and beyond. To the south is the Inland Empire and L.A. basin where, on a clear day, Catalina Island is visible. Check around for discount lift tickets at local sporting goods stores. We were able to knock $15 off each ticket by purchasing ahead at Sport Chalet.
Mt. Baldy offers all the amenities for skiers and boarders including equipment rentals, a ski school and the Top of the Notch Restaurant. We found the rentals to be severely outdated, which appeared to be hand-me-downs from other ski resorts in the ’80s. We recommend renting elsewhere, especially since the rental supply can sell out on busy weekends and holidays. The ski school offers group and private lessons and is run by some of Mt. Baldy’s most experienced skiers and boarders. The Top of the Notch restaurant offers a coffee & snack bar, restaurant, bar and restrooms. The restaurant is somewhat cafeteria-style and serves many of the standard comfort foods like soups, hamburgers, sandwiches and more. The real highlight of the restaurant is the outdoor deck that protrudes out over the peak and offers outstanding views to the south.
Mt. Baldy is easily accessible from anywhere in Los Angeles, Inland Empire, Orange County and even northern San Diego regions. From most of these areas you can be on the hill within an hour. Just head for the 210 Freeway, exit Mountain Avenue in Upland and follow the signs north. Mountain Avenue connects with Mt. Baldy Road, which you’ll take to the end at the ski resort. It’s approximately 10 miles from the freeway to the resort. The last few miles of the road become extremely curved and steep. Even in dry conditions our 2-wheel drive SUV spins a tire on one of the turns. Be sure to carry chains if there’s even the slightest chance of ice or snow. If you’re looking for overnight stay or a good, hearty meal, Mt. Baldy Lodge is the place. They have 6 rustic cabins of varying size and a very popular restaurant & bar.
California Revealed is comprised of Californians who have spent a lifetime traveling and exploring California. We can give you local insight on popular destinations, but also let you know about the obscure, less traveled destinations that only locals of this state would know about. This is not the most extensive listing of California destinations but instead, an extensive listing of places and adventures that are sure to please you. Simply put, we want you to have a fantastic, unforgettable time in California.