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Navitat Canopy Adventures Bringing Zip Lines to LA County

Photos courtesy Corinne Krogh / Navitat Canopy Adventures.
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Already sitting more than a mile above sea level, Wrightwood, CA offers Mountain High ski resort, close proximity to Mt. Baldy, and about 4,000 hardy full-time residents. So what, exactly, is there to do in this mile-high mountain town when the winter powder melts away? Surprisingly, the answer is: go higher.

Beginning today, Navitat Canopy Adventures is offering an array of high-flying adventure possibilities, from zip lines to rappels and sky bridges, all within the pine trees and wide vistas that make the San Bernadino mountain range so magnificent. LAist was recently invited to preview the full Navitat Wrightwood experience, and the results are simply soaring.

On the expansive private grounds of the Wrightwood Guest Ranch, as you’re slowly driven up the dirt drive to the first of ten zip lines, try not to fool yourself into believing that the tightness in your chest is just from the altitude. You’re about to hook yourself up to a cable and (carefully) careen your body over treetops, through branches and across an array of peaks and valleys. It’s only natural to feel a little tense. But trust us, you’re in good hands. And even then, if you don’t trust the limbs of others, take solace in the sturdy branches and mechanized safety that surrounds you.

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On our trip, longtime guide Joel Hunt not only helped us put our fears aside, he did so with a smile and warm knowledge of the area and its flora and fauna that belies the mere months he’s been in Southern California. The tour itself is also set up to help you trade timidity for boldness, with a three-zip ‘ground school’ that gets you comfortable in the harness and with all of the components of the zip. You’ll notice immediately the safety redundancy - two full zip lines support the rider, with each independently linked to your safety harness. Even after a springtime full of LA’s best burgers, there’s no indication that this equipment is letting you go anywhere but forward. From there, it’s bombs away as you coast across canyons more than three hundred feet below you, or settle in for a 1,500 foot zip that gives you plenty of time to enjoy the open air.

Navitat, with another course outside of Asheville, North Carolina, is dedicated to maintaining a close relationship with all that open air and existing landscape to create a thrilling experience that works with the natural beauty, instead of exploiting it. For the purposes of the Wrightwood tour, that means the zips themselves are almost entirely tree-based; you glide from hundreds of feet up in a single Jeffrey Pine before coming to rest on an adjacent platform that keeps the tree around you alive and healthy. All of the platform construction components are meant to mimic the tree’s growth and natural features, and what the can’t keep alive the team reintroduces into the course elements in the form of logs for the sky stairs or markers for the short hikes. At one particularly humbling moment, you fly into a tree platform at 90 feet, before rappelling down another 60 feet through open branches and an unmistakable butterscotch smell (it’s really just the sap), before reaching another platform 30 feet above ground and continuing on your way. How’s that for feeling small?

Navitat Canopy Adventures really is doing something wonderful out in Wrightwood. And now, with the Angeles Crest Highway back open, it’s even easier and more beautiful than ever to escape a few miles into the sky for some ziplining, rope bridge crossing, and - most importantly - time with nature.

Navitat Canopy Adventures begins daily 4-hour tours on July 1st. If you for a tour between July 1st and July 17th, you'll save 20% off of the $109 adult pricetag. Call 1-855-NAVITAT for details.

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