Arrowhead feels less like a respite than an extension of LA I can’t imagine Arrowhead Woods’ $800,000 cabins – built side-by-side – offer even a whiff of the Elysian Forest idyll. Arden. It may be the money flowing in, but tourists and locals seem stressed. It’s claustrophobic. If I were to live in Arrowhead, I would go to Fontana on the weekends.
We meet Francisco Behena, whose family has worked at the Malt Shop outside Cedar Glen for 18 years and finally bought it six years ago. Since the shop opened in 1946, a room and a few kiosks have been added, but, he says, “we try to keep the original. I think back then it was just the counter, then came the booths. Little by little, we try to maintain it. He says most of their customers are locals who have been coming for lunch for years, as well as part-timers who bring their children and grandchildren to pick up malt. I order a mint chocolate chip malt shake for the Viking. He looks at it like it’s a contagious rash. I explain that in America we have not yet perfected the flavored gin and tonic shake. He is neither amused nor appeased.
The Malt Shop is not the only remnant of the bygone mountain era, however. There are a few reasons to be optimistic. Skyforest at Santa’s Village was once Santa’s Old Village, a Christmas wonderland that opened a month before Disneyland in 1955. There were kiddie rides and giant multicolored mushrooms and a chance to see Mr. and Mrs. Claus and eat freshly baked gingerbread cookies. It fell on hard times, surviving a fire, bankruptcy and a few attempts at reinvention before Bill and Michelle Johnson relaunched it a few years ago as an adventure park with mountain biking, fishing, hiking and more activities. Santa Claus, gingerbread, and even some of the old concrete mushrooms are still here, but there are now tons of fun things for the kids to do. Up the road in Running Springs is Snow Valley, where three or four generations of SoCalers first hit the trails.
“It started out as Fish Camp,” says vice president and general manager Kevin Somes as we sit on the deck of the Snow Valley Mountain Resort looking down the slopes where only a few months earlier skiers were carving through snow dumped by a couple decent storms. It wasn’t a record year for snow, but it was good enough to welcome back hundreds of skiers and snowboarders who had hung up their Marmotte mitts during the pandemic. “In 1937 the name was changed to Snow Valley…and in 1941 John Alberan took over [it] over.” Alberan developed the ski slopes and then sold the operation to a group of investors including WA Sauey. Sauey died in 2020, but the resort remains his family’s operation.
When the pandemic hit, Snow Valley was ordered to cease operations immediately. “We got a call,” he recalls. “It was a Monday afternoon. We had a lot of snow…and it snowed 6 feet more that season. We could have skied until May. It could have been one of our best seasons ever… and not even [the staff] could ski it.
However, in 2021, as restrictions began to be lifted, Somes says Snow Valley had one of its best seasons. In fact, over the past two years, he has seen a significant increase in winter and summer visitors. As Somes and I speak, Snow Valley is still weeks away from its summer opening date of May 31, yet it’s been getting calls all morning from people wanting to know when they can come mountain biking, hiking hike and take the lift to the top. of the mountain. “Disneyland was closed… amusement parks, bars, bowling alleys, everything. So people refocused. People want to be outdoors. I think people have realized that being outdoors isn’t just about skiing. there is an experience of being here in the mountains. It’s relaxing and there’s fresh air. Where can you do this? It’s so close to my house.