Destinations: Newcomb's Ranch, Flintridge, California
Classic Motorcycle Destinations
From old Guzzis to the newest MV Agustas, the parking lot at Newcomb's Ranch can be quite a show, especially on the weekends.
Photo by Joe Berk
For those of you who don’t live in the Golden State, the Crest is California Highway 2, the Angeles Crest Highway. It’s a marvelous road, full of twisties, climbs, descents and great views through pine-forested mountains well above the Los Angeles basin smog. The pearl in this oyster is Newcomb’s Ranch, a restaurant and bar nestled in the center of the San Gabriel Mountains.
Newcomb’s Ranch is a great stop along this marvelous road in the Chilao Flats area of the Angeles National Forest. During the 1860s and early 1870s the infamous bandit and horse thief Tiburcio Vasquez frequented the area, as he found the area’s meadows to be an ideal place to hide his stolen herds. Sometime before his capture in 1874, one of his men was said to have killed a bear with a knife, earning his nickname “Chillia” (or Hot Stuff). From this story comes the name of the region today, Chilao.
An explorer named Louis Newcomb then settled in the area in 1888, building a cabin not too far from the current location of today’s Newcomb Ranch, which was erected in 1939. The Ranch has served as a restaurant, hotel, general store and gas station over the years, and much of the original two-story structure was destroyed in a fire in 1976. The building was rebuilt and opened as a restaurant, run for many years by Lynn Newcomb Jr. Today, Newcomb’s Ranch is owned by Dr. Frederick H. Rundall, a lover of nature with a passion for the mountains.
Highway 2 runs from Glendale (off the 210 Freeway) roughly northeast across the San Gabriel Mountains to Wrightwood, and then down to Highway 138. For several years now, road damage has closed the Crest about 20 miles north of Newcomb’s. You can ride up to the point at which it is shut down, but you can’t go all the way through to Wrightwood. That notwithstanding, the ride is still a worthwhile one and the stop at Newcomb’s is always fun. Newcomb’s always has an interesting selection of motorcycles in their parking lot. It’s not uncommon to see exotic cars too, but motorcycles and their riders far outnumber everyone else. Classic bikes, high end sportbikes, cruisers and more add to the mix. Bring a camera; you won’t be disappointed.
Unlike many of the motorcycle gathering spots in southern California, the food at Newcomb’s is great. The restaurant was recently remodeled, the service is great, the breakfasts are outstanding and their chili is some of the best you’ll find. They’re open weekdays from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. and from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Saturdays, Sundays and holidays. Even without the great ride and the cool bikes, it would still be worth the trip just for the food.