The Gold Coast’s Best Zip Lines
By Dustin Clendenen
Once upon a time, ziplining was an actual mode of transportation in countries such as Australia and China, but here in America, soaring through the air on a rope is just a really cool and fun way to spend an afternoon.
With year-round 72 degree and sunny weather, Southern California is replete with lots of options for ziplining, granting riders the ability to enjoy mountain, ocean, forest and valley views all within a radius of several hundred miles.
If you want to have one of these pseudo-hang-gliding experiences yourself, here are the best places in SoCal to hop on a zipline:
The Catalina Zipline Eco-Tour
1 Descanso Canyon Rd., Avalon, CA 90704
Catalina Island is a world away from the hustle and bustle of Southern California, and perhaps the best way to really see it in all its glory is by a two-hour zipline tour.
The course is intense but perfect for beginners, with friendly guides talking you through each progressively steeper incline. The final even runs a seemingly endless 1,100 lineal feet from platform to platform.
As you soar through the air, you’re probably going to see some of the island’s furry inhabitants watching you from the hillsides, including the non-native American Bison that were flown to the locale in 1924 for the filming of a movie called The Vanishing American.
This is the only place in Southern California that offers night-time ziplining, so if you’re a seasoned zipliner looking for a new kind of thrill, this could be the perfect treat!
Ziplines at Pacific Crest
6014 Park Dr., Wrightwood, CA 92397
At Pacific Crest, you don’t just get to zipline, you get to really learn how to zipline. The Ziplines at Pacific Crest have two of the most thrilling courses in the entire country, sending flyers soaring through the canyons of the San Gabriel Mountains at speeds of up to 55 miles per hour. Just 75 miles from downtown Los Angeles, the premium Canopy Tour they offer is an exhilarating 3.5 hour zipline excursion using nine different ziplines, going down from an elevation of over 300 feet, and as far as 1,500 feet.
They also offer a shorter tour that’s only 2.5 hours long at a discount.
La Jolla Zip Zoom
22000 Highway 76, Pauma Valley, CA 92061
The foothills of the Palomar Mountain range have been an outdoor vacation destination for decades. Located on a Luiseño Indian Reservation, in 1930s the tribe opened the La Jolla Indian Campground, and it was an instant success, attracting thousands with its remote yet close-to-civilization environment and fun attractions like tubing in the San Luis Rey River.
Most recently, they opened the La Jolla Zip Zoom, a spectacular zipline tour that has riders soaring over the mountain peaks, lush green canyons and campgrounds they’ve been enjoying from the ground for years.
Skull Canyon Zipline
13540 Temescal Canyon Road, Corona, CA 92883
Skull Canyon dons a hardcore name for a reason — the extreme course requires that riders pull the handbrake themselves, and first timers are highly discouraged from going on this course. They even have a no bailouts policy if a rider’s nerves get to them.
Located in Corona’s Temescal Canyon region, Skull Canyon is well known for attracting expert riders who know how to perform tricks. The panoramic views one can experience on the intermediate course were even featured in a viral Buzzfeed video!
The final run of the extreme course is so popular it’s even offered as an a la carte purchase for riders who just want that final shot of adrenaline over and over and over.
SkyPark at Santa’s Village
28950 Highway 18, Skyforest, CA 92385
After Santa’s Village novelty wore off as a year-round Christmas-themed amusement park, the space was reimagined as a family-friendly adventure-land. The new park includes a mountain-biking trail and most importantly, a zipline.
The zip line takes riders high above the park into the beautiful and crisp mountain air. The eclectic environment where theme-park attractions sit right alongside Southern California flora and fauna makes this one of the most unique zipline excursions in the country.
22719 El Camino Real, Santa Margarita, CA 93453
Margarita Adventures definitely lives up to its name. While most other ziplines eschew association with alcohol, when you finish this ride it actually drops you off at a winery so you can steady your nerves after the two and a half hour adventure. Situated over Santa Margarita Ranch, the zipline flies riders over one of the oldest continually operating cattle ranches in California, educating patrons about the area’s history and nature between each leg of the excursion.