Iconic Neighborhood Restaurants: Angeles Forest

Just a short drive up the 2 Freeway from Los Angeles is the expansive Angeles Forest in the San Gabriel Mountains. Established in 1908 as the first National Forest in the state, the Angeles Forest spans 700,176 acres from Santa Clarita in the West to Mount Baldy in the east. The forest contains a variety of recreational activities, including camping, horseback riding, swimming, skiing, fishing, and hiking. Some areas of the forest require an Adventure Pass, so check ahead to see if you'll need one for your trip. There are several convenient locations where you can pick one up, including a number of 7-Elevens. Who knew?

Unfortunately, the 2009 Station Fire -- which lasted a month and was caused by arson -- burned more than 160,000 acres, or about one-fourth of the forest. To this day it is the worst forest fire in history to hit the area. The fire damaged many campsites and hiking areas, 91 homes were burned and local businesses like the Hidden Springs Cafe, which had been in business since 1956, were destroyed. Two firefighters died when their truck plunged off a cliff while trying to flee the flames. The forest has recovered since the fire, and most campsites have been reopened, but the ever-present danger of fire remains. Best bet is to check the Angeles Forest website for the most updated information.


Top of the Notch

Top of the Notch

Top Of The Notch Restaurant: Located 7,800 feet above sea level up into the San Gabriel Mountains, the view from this ski-lift accessible restaurant will definitely not disappoint. Ski lifts can hoist you up to this mountain-top oasis on weekends during the summer or daily during the winter months, but the more adventurous can hike up via a service road -- about a 3.5-mile hike. This is one spot in the mountains where you'll find a large variety of menu items -- there are 11 sandwiches, 7 burgers, and 6 salads to choose from. For breakfast, try the breakfast burrito or the Hiker's Buffet, which is all-you-can-eat eggs, bacon, sausage, potatoes, pastries, and fruit.
8600 Mt Baldy Rd, Mt Baldy, CA 91759, 909-982-0800


Newcomb's Ranch: Built by Lynn Newcomb Sr. in 1939, Newcomb's Ranch has served as an inn, restaurant, and market in the remote Angeles Forest for many years. A fire destroyed the original ranch in 1976, but the building was rebuilt to serve just as a restaurant, which remains in business today. Located smack dab in the middle of the Angeles Forest, Newcomb's is one of the only restaurants for miles. Open for breakfast and lunch, the menus has something for everyone, from burgers and sandwiches to omelettes and pancakes. The only thing missing are waffles, and the salad selection is minimal. The menu star, however, is the homemade beef chili.
CA-2, La Cañada Flintridge, CA 91011, (626) 440-1001


The Village Grind: This little mountain spot is the perfect place for a cup of coffee and a light snack before your hike. It's one of the few places in the forest where you can get a real espresso drink (for those out there who just need their daily cappuccino). If you didn't stop in before your hike, grab a beer or glass of wine and soak up the beautiful mountain air from the expansive deck. You can also order a light meal here, but don't expect anything fancy -- just breakfast burritos, sandwiches, bagels and pastries. If you find yourself here on Monday, stay for the $5 happy hour and free live music
6020 Park Dr Wrightwood, CA 92397, (760) 249-5501


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Camp Williams Resort and Cafe: Day-trippers often stop at Camp Williams Cafe to fuel up before a big hike. Located on the East Fork of the San Gabriel River, this is where weary campers, bikers, and hikers go for a quick, cheap meal -- really the only place to do so for miles. You won't find anything fancy on the menu, but plenty of options for breakfast and the usual burgers and sandwiches for lunch.
24210 E Fork Rd., Azusa, CA 91702, (626) 910-1126


Crystal Lake Cafe

Crystal Lake Cafe

Crystal Lake Cafe: Located of the remote Crystal Lake Road, this roadside cafe and trading post is the only spot for miles to grab a home-cooked meal. Burgers, chili, breakfast burritos, nachos, and homemade brownies and banana bread round out the menu full of down-home eats. You'll likely see a mix of travelers passing through, local campers taking a respite from camp side fare and bikers taking a break from the road. Crystal Lake is open daily from 7 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., but closed on Tuesdays.
9877 Crystal Lake Rd., Azusa, CA 91702, (626) 910-1029

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