Only 15 miles off Interstate 15, Wrightwood, California, is a town of 3,300 without a traffic light. And that’s exactly how Mountain High marketing director Kim Hermon likes it. Located at a moderate 6,000 feet, the town’s gone from cattle settlement to apple orchard to recreation hotbed, letting you ski and ride all winter and camp, fish, bike, hike, and paddle all summer. “It’s truly a land of four seasons,” he says of the resort in the heart of Angeles National Forest. “There’s always something to do.” Bonus: it’s a hop, skip, and a jump to the famous Pacific Crest National Scenic Trail.
Here are a few of Hermon’s favorite things about Mountain High:
Aspect of the region in the off-season: The weather is mild compared to the city and the air is fresh.
Place to mountain bike ride: There are endless mountain biking trails throughout Wrightwood and beyond, including a great intermediate singletrack called Dawson Saddle that’s about four miles round trip from Highway 2 to the Blue Ridge Campground and back. It has great singletrack along a forested trail and gains about 1,000 feet in elevation. It has spectacular views, spring wildflowers, and great fall colors. You can also go from Grassy Hollow to Vincent Gap along a beginner dirt road, either out and back or with a shuttle. It’s three miles one way with a gentle grade and great views of both mountains and desert.
Place to road ride: The Angeles Crest Scenic Byway. SR 2 runs 66 miles from La Canada-Flintridge to the Mountain Top junction at SR 138. It’s called the most scenic mountain road in the state and was built between 1929 and 1956, except during World War II. It ascends up and winds its way through 66 miles of the Angeles National Forest, through chaparral and montane forest habitats, along the highest and most scenic ridges of the San Gabriel Mountains.
Place to ride with the family: There’s a great1.5-mile pedal path just outside the village close to Highway 2.
Place to Paddle (flatwater): Jackson Lake. It’s a small body of water located in a canyon east of Wrightwood and Big Pines. It was formed by the San Andreas fault. In summer it has great fishing but it’s also a hub for paddling, with great campgrounds and picnic areas. Around it are the Mt. Oak Campground, Lake Campground, Peavine Campground, Apple Tree Campground, Mescal Picnic Area, Jackson Lake Picnic Area, and other camps.
Place to Refuel: The Grizzly Cafe. It’s a family-owned cafe in Wrightwood with a great atmosphere and good food. The Mexico Lindo & Seafood Restaurant is also good, with pretty reasonable prices and excellent salsa and chips and house margaritas. They also have double shot call margaritas at a great price.
Place for a beer: The Yodeler in Wrightwood. It’s a cool biker bar. Bikers who are riding between Glendale and Interstate 15 tend to stop here in droves, which gives it a bit of an edge. Their pizza isn’t too bad, and their drinks are cold and strong. It isn’t the sort of place to wear a monocle or loafers, or even a bowtie or sweater vest.
Photos courtesy Mountain High, Hermon