Who needs snow? This year-round destination offers plenty of family adventures.
by Mimi Slawoff
Although best known for the skiing and snowboarding at Mountain High (www.mthigh.com), Wrightwood is a year-round destination with a variety of family-friendly adventures. Hiking, biking, fishing, kayaking, ziplining and disc golf are among the fun things to do with kids in this small mountain town about a 90-minute drive from L.A. It doesn’t have a single streetlight.
At the family-run Grizzly Café (1455 California 2; 760-249-6733; www.grizzlycafe.com), inspiration for specialties such as strawberry lemonade and chocolate sundaes comes from owners Leo and Debbie Hordyk’s seven grandchildren.
The extensive comfort-food menu includes burgers, sandwiches, salads, chili, pasta, chicken, steak, fish, desserts and specialty drinks. Customer favorites: Napa chicken salad and tri-tip sandwich. The children’s menu – Grizzly Cubs – satisfies ages 10 and younger with pancakes, chicken tenders, macaroni and cheese, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and corn dogs.
While Wrightwood boasts the Canyon Creek Inn and a handful of bed-and-breakfast places, most of the places to stay are cozy rental cabins sprinkled throughout residential neighborhoods. To find lodging that best suits your family’s needs, visit the Wrightwood Lodging Association (www.staywrightwood.com). The Wrightwood area also has several campgrounds.
Weather permitting, families may still squeeze in a few days of skiing and snowboarding at Mountain High, which typically stays open through mid-April. But come spring and summer, other amusements take over the forest.
Thrill-seeking families can glide over treetops and scramble along rope bridges on zipline tours spanning more than 300 acres. From March 22 through Nov. 30, Navitat Canopy Adventures (www.navitat.com/wrightwood-ca) operates two high-adventure zipline tours encompassing a series of platforms connected by ziplines, sky and rope ramp bridges, trails and rappels. The 3.5-hour Zipline Canopy Tour ($109-$129) includes eight ziplines, four bridges, two rappels and three short hikes. On the 2.5-hour Mountain View Zipline Tour ($99 per person), offered weekends, participants experience six ziplines, two free-fall rappels and three short hikes. Certified Navitat canopy guides point out wildlife, tree species and distant deserts and mountain ranges. Participants must be at least 10 years old, and weigh between 90 and 250 pounds. Weekend warriors can do both zipline tours in one day for $195 per person.
Those who prefer to keep their feet on the ground can challenge themselves and each other at Mountain High’s Sky High Disc Golf Course (www.mthigh.com/discgolf). The 27-hole course, open May through October, takes players on a 2.5-mile hike through the Angeles National Forest. While playing, keep your eyes open for hawks, deer and other forest creatures. Cost: $7.
Boat lovers can fish or kayak in Jackson Lake (stocked with rainbow trout in spring and summer), and hikers will enjoy the easy, hard-packed path that parallels the highway through town. Trail maps can be found at Mountain Hardware (1390 California 2) and other local businesses. For local history, browse the Wrightwood Museum (on Cedar Street; www.wrightwoodcalifornia.com/village/wrightwood-museum.html), housed in a former firefighter’s station, and the Grassy Hollow Visitor Center (www.grassyhollow.net), open weekends.
Let’s Go columnist Mimi Slawoff is a mother of three who writes about family fun.