Big Oaks Lodge, on twisting Bouquet Canyon Road, is on the market. The lodge was established in 1980 as a boxing training camp, and now is the site of The Big Oaks Lodge and Restaurant, popular with motorcycle enthusiasts.
The buildings and the business are for sale with an asking price of $449,000, said broker Brett Alphin of the John Aaroe Group. Alphin represents the current owners, who bought the lodge in 2011. The restaurant has had a full liquor license since 1949.
As a business proposition, the lodge’s location represents a mix of opportunities and challenges.
On the plus side, the lodge’s setting, nestled in pristine parkland surrounded by Angeles National Forest make it easy to forget that it’s only about a 13-mile drive from Santa Clarita City Hall.
The lodge is the site of more than a century of rich local history, some of it checkered. The lodge and its .93-acre lot are in Angeles National Forest, established by President Theodore Roosevelt in 1908. Buildings on the sites include the main lodge and three cabins.
Stagecoaches stopped here, as did career criminal Charles Arthur Floyd, better known as “Pretty Boy.” He met his end in Ohio in 1934, the same year the current lodge building was finished. Douglas Fairbanks and Mary Pickford liked the location so much that they built a cabin nearby.
Of the top boxers who trained here in the 1970’s and 1980’s, two stand out. Michael Dokes held the World Boxing Association heavyweight title from 1982 to 1983. Bakersfield native and light heavyweight contender Mike Quarry lost his one title shot in 1972.
The lodge has also seen its share of location filming, including Terminator 3, and episodes of Beverly Hills 90210 and Highway to Heaven.
Pam Aronoff spent time at Big Oaks in the early 1990’s while she was earning an MFA at CalArts. She looked at the property as a possible live music venue.
She stayed in one of the lodge’s cabins, made of locally quarried Bouquet Canyon stone. “It was truly rustic,” she said, recalling an active beehive inside the cabin.
Having owned a motorcycle (“a Honda, not a Harley”) during her college days in Boston, she found kindred spirits in a “wonderful wacky bunch” of bikers who came by the lodge for burgers every Saturday evening at six o’clock sharp.
During her visits to Big Oaks, Aronoff was driving a zebra-striped AMC Gremlin, in which she gave a ride to young musician who was the friend of a Steve Hanft, a budding filmmaker. The musician was Beck.
“Kill the Moonlight,” directed by Hanft and released in 1994, “features a great soundtrack with some good slacker tunes including some from a (pre-famous) Beck, who was in the band “Loser” with the movie’s director,” according to an IMDB review.
The drive up Bouquet Canyon Road, the only way in and out of the lodge, features sharp hilly curves. In May 2016, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors voted to lower the speed limit on a section of the road, The Signal reported. It was one of several new traffic safety measures planned following two fatal accidents on the winding road in the previous year.
Last fall, the road was closed for more than three weeks. A buildup of silt around the road since 2007 has rendered the road prone to flooding. The closure extended from the gate about six miles south of Spunky Canyon Road, just south of Big Oaks Lodge, to the gate near the southern boundary of Angeles National Forest, two miles north of Vasquez Canyon Rd. The road reopened in November.
Jim Holt contributed to this story.