Summer’s Just Getting Started in the Mountain Towns of Southern California

Crystals, canoes and Big Bear … oh my.

While the mountains just north of Los Angeles see big crowds during the winter ski season, the summer months can be just as thrilling for the daytripper. Sandwiched between the coastal cities and the desert, the woodsy locals of Lake Arrowhead, Big Bear, Idyllwild, Mt. Baldy and Los Padres National Forest are prime sports for summer activities … including great eats, lake adventures, wildlife and more. Check out these highlights handpicked by Curbed LA. No chains required.

Ride the Mount Baldy Ski Lifts

“The lifts, in one form or another, have been pulling skiers up Mount Baldy since 1944, when the system was a rope tow powered by a Hudson Motor engine. Today, the lift company operates a scenic ride that is as enjoyable in dry months as it is in the winter. Let your legs dangle in the fresh mountain air as the cables pull you up 1,300 feet to the “Top of the Notch.” The ride lasts about 1 minute and 30 seconds, and (if you aren’t afraid of heights), you’ll enjoy every second. Once at the top, hit the trails (it’s a strenuous and, at times precarious, jaunt to the Old Baldy peak) or dine at the restaurant. A round-trip lift ticket is $30. Try a Moonlight Hike for barbecue and live music at the Top of the Notch. Hikes happen Friday and Saturday nights through September.”

Contemplate the Vastness of the Universe

“It was at the top of Mount Wilson that Edwin Hubble, peering through the enormous Hooker telescope, made the observations necessary to formulate his groundbreaking conclusion that the universe is expanding. On a visit to Mount Wilson today, you can take a look at both the telescope and the modest wooden chair Hubble sat in while examining the cosmos.”

Admire the Views from Strawberry Peak

“Los Angeles-area forests have always been a magnet for wildfires (though what was once a “fire season” is now, essentially, all the time). Once, fire lookouts dotted the local forests, staffed by rangers whose jobs were to keep an eye out for smoke. Now, the few remaining lookout buildings in the San Bernardino and Angeles National Forests are manned by volunteers, but they’re still fun to visit. Strawberry Peak, just outside of Twin Peaks in the San Bernardino National Forest, is a good one to pop in on; it can be reached by car or via a nice hike and offers up some expansive views.”

Get more mountain magic here.

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