This is not Big Bear. This is not Bouquet Canyon or The East Fork. Big SAC is an escape from the modern world. A great deal of responsibility comes with ownership as well. A cabin owner here is in custody of a living example of California history and should respect it as such. However they are not museum pieces. They need to be used and enjoyed – treated like one of the family. If you fully understand this, then you may be right for this canyon. As much as we enjoy new friends in The Canyon, we are here to discourage those who are unprepared from buying a cabin on a whim.
These cabins are also a lot of work. Any structure in the woods will need regular attention to preserve it. The cabins of Big SAC were built between 1907 and 1936 and repairs are common. When leaves are allowed to collect, rot will quickly set in. Annual fire clearance is required under the Special Use Permit and California law. Animals can cause damage, too. A neglected cabin will depreciate this neighborhood as much as any in town, probably more.
But a good cabin owner finds pleasure in this work. He likens his cabin to owning an antique automobile. A car that is maintained with only original equipment; that is polished and detailed on Saturdays; driven and shown-off for all to enjoy on Sundays.
The basic cost for all of this is nominal. A small annual fee (around $350) keeps your Special Use Permit and the county asks for a little property tax. Optional membership in Big Santa Anita Permitees Association will get your cabin patrolled weekly. Cabins are traditionally sold “as is”, including furniture, appliances, tools, almost everything.
There are many restrictions on the cabins of Big SAC. Permission must be sought for anything beyond a basic repair. No design changes are allowed. No decks, no change in rooflines, no room additions. Paint color must be approved by the Forest Service. Cabins are for recreational use only; you must maintain a primary address. There are no restrictions on interior design provided they do not affect the exterior or the environment. Fire insurance can be obtained from California Fair Plan.
One should also be aware that there is an old-fashioned, small town effect here. This is not a place for the hermit or recluse. Your neighbors will distinguish your car from the others in the lot. They will know when you come and go, and what you brought in and out. They are always ready with a comment. They will also help you put a roof on your cabin, call you on the canyon line to make sure you arrived OK, or give you the jackets off their backs when you need one; or just invite you to their cabin for dinner. We wouldn’t have it any other way.
If this sounds like your cup of tea, visit the following cabins. Once you have seen the outsides and done the hikes, come to the Pack Station prepared to give a description as proof of your visit and we will discuss the cabins further. If there are no cabins available or you cannot afford one, join us on the Pack Station deck.