Merely a ten-minute drive from the Big Bear Lake ski resorts is the cozy mountain community of Baldwin Lake. At 7,000 feet, Baldwin Lake enjoys warm and inviting summers, and crisply chilly winters. Main activities and attractions include: the Baldwin Lake Stables, equipped with amiable horses and a petting zoo for the youngsters; and an ecological reserve, perfect for bird watching and perusing a rare assortment of flora, indigenous to no other place in the world.
Baldwin Lake Stables
You can horseback through the wilderness year-round at the Baldwin Lake Stables. Guided tours are offered throughout the day including a sunset tour. The kids can ride ponies if they're in the mood. There's even a petting zoo for youngsters to meet resident pigs, bunnies, goats and llamas.
The Gold Rush
In the 1850's, Baldwin Lake was just one of many California communities that prospered from the Gold Rush. The town is named after E.J. "Lucky" Baldwin, who struck it rich, after numerous attempts. These days, there's a different kind of gold that runs rampant called the slender-petaled mustard. This yellowish plant has been endangered since the early 1980's. It flourishes in the moist regions of the Baldwin Lake Ecological Reserve.
Unique Plant Ecology
In the springtime a bounty of vibrant colors engulfs the landscape with orange, purple and yellow. Those purple-colored delights are known as Parish's rock-cress, and the yellow ones are Douglas' violets.
Each summer the lake evaporates, and a rather unique ecosystem emerges that is only found in Baldwin Lake. In terms of soil, when it gets wet it expands, and when it dries it shrinks. For thousands of years the lake has filled with water in the winter and frozen, then thawed and expanded in the spring, and dried up and shrunk in the summer. This process, coupled with the harshness of freezing, has created what is known as the pebble plains - a unique occurrence where tiny pebbles are forced to the surface, thus creating a rare type of soil.
Some notable plants include: the buckwheat, which establishes deep roots to adapt to changing environments; and the paintbrush, a grayish specimen that inventively taps into neighboring plants for nutrients.
The Stickleback Fish
Also fascinating is the stickleback. This three-spined fish flourishes in the wetter years when the lake doesn't evaporate. The stickleback is also known for its rare breeding practices. Once the females’ eggs hatch, the male forces the female out of town to raise the youngsters on its own.