10 REASONS TO RIDE SKYPARK

More than just a bike park

10 REASONS TO RIDE SKYPARK

SkyPark at Santa’s Village is an outdoor adventure park located in the small mountain town of Skyforest, California. The park was originally opened in May 1955 as Santa’s Village, the first known franchised amusement park and one of three built by developer Glenn Holland. The others, also defunct, were in Scotts Valley, California, and East Dundee, Illinois (the East Dundee park reopened in 2011 under new ownership as Santa’s Village Azoosment Park).

The park was one of Southern California’s biggest tourist attractions, opening more than a month before Disneyland, and had kiddie rides, including a bobsled, monorail and Ferris wheel. It also had a petting zoo, live reindeer, and shops, including a bakery, candy kitchen and toy shop. However, reduced attendance and revenue shortfalls caused the park to close on March 1, 1998.

The property was sold three years later for $5.6 million and served as a staging area for logging operations, with the faded candy-cane signpost and dilapidated buildings becoming a ghost town along the Rim of the World Highway. In June 2014, the park was sold to a new owner who planned to operate it as a year-round tourist destination.

After renovations of 18 original Santa’s Village buildings and restoration projects in the surrounding forest, it reopened on December 2, 2016, as the SkyPark at Santa’s Village that we know today. So, should you take the time to spend a day riding mountain bikes up at SkyPark? We definitely think so.

1. ACCESSIBILITY TO SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA

SkyPark at Santa’s Village is uniquely situated in the foothills of the San Bernardino Mountains off Highway 18. Located less than two hours from Mountain Bike Action’s headquarters, it sits perched above San Bernardino with a view of the valley below, and you can even see the ocean on a clear day. This versatile location makes it accessible to pretty much anybody in Southern California to make a day trip up to the mountains or have a short weekend getaway. The road up the hill is well maintained, and a large majority of it is now two lanes in each direction, which makes it quite safe. As long as heavy snow doesn’t close Highway 18, you can get up to SkyPark any time.

 

2. SKILL-BUILDING AREAS

High-paced flow trails and tight, technical singletrack are all well and good, but they lose a portion of their value if there are no building blocks to help develop riders to that higher skill level. SkyPark does an excellent job of providing these incremental steps to help younger or less advanced riders work on essential trail skills and develop confidence in a relatively safe and controlled environment.

There are six green-rated trails throughout the bike park to help riders acquaint themselves with riding singletrack, along with two different dedicated skill-building areas with progressively larger features so riders can safely build their confidence. An all-new paved pump track built by Strait Acres is the icing on the cake and lets riders of all ages and skill levels work on those essential pumping skills. SkyPark also offers on-trail bike lessons from certified instructors for riders of all skill levels and can be done privately or as a group to help you gain confidence out on the trail and take your riding to the next level.

3. DIVERSE RANGE OF WELL-MAINTAINED TRAILS

Once you’ve got a feeling for the terrain at SkyPark and start to feel comfortable on the bike in the skill-building zones, it’s time to start exploring the range of trails that they have on the property. Over 10 miles of trails crisscross their way through the beautiful pine forest and have something to cater to almost every type of rider.

Playground is a green-rated trail that is an excellent introduction to singletrack riding while taking a lap down Sleigh Ride or Treeline will see you cruising flowy blue-rated trails with plenty of rollers and berms that can be ridden as slow or fast as you want. For something a little more challenging, Arrow combines flowy jumps and berms in the first half with a wood feature-laden and technical lower half, but be aware that the wooden features can be slick when moisture is present.

Those looking to clock in those air miles will enjoy laps on the Neverland Jumpline and centrally located Session Jump, both of which feature meticulously sculpted and maintained lips and landings. Comet is the longest and most technical trail on the property that includes several rock gardens, drops, loose sections and jumps to give riders a real challenge. This is usually the trail used for the occasional downhill and enduro races held at SkyPark. Once you take Reindeer Return to get back to the village, the Upline climbing trail provides a smooth and gradual climb back up to the top of the trail hub so you can start all over again.

 

4. FAMILY-FRIENDLY ENVIRONMENT

SkyPark isn’t just for the weekend trail warriors and those looking for an adrenaline-fueled adventure. The whole family can have a fun and educational day while exploring the outdoors with the various activities offered in the village area at SkyPark. The Adventure Zipline lets you soar through the trees with the whole family, while the playground and balance bike trails let your little ones have fun and let out some energy. Santa’s Workshop Exploritorium and mining activities are fun and educational for your kids and give them hands-on experiences and instill a value for lifelong learning that they’ll never forget.

The Meadowlands conservation trails let the whole family explore the tranquil forest and learn about the wilderness that surrounds the park, and there are even seasonal fly-fishing opportunities for adventurous anglers to catch some fish up in the mountains. In the wintertime, an ice skating rink gives Southern Californians a rare chance to feel like they’re skating on a frozen lake in the middle of the forest.

 

5. THE NATURAL BEAUTY

Sometimes, the best reason to get up to the mountains is to get away from the craziness of everyday life and enjoy the peacefulness and beauty that comes with being in the forest. We often find ourselves taking a break on the climb back up to the top of the trail hub and simply appreciating the beauty that the park holds and listening to the sounds of nature.

If you can time the afternoon light just right, you are met with a beautiful golden glow as you meander your way through the trees. The view from the trail hub at the Top of the World is well worth the climb, and on a clear day, you are able to see most of the Los Angeles Basin all the way to the coast out to Catalina Island. On the other side of the property, near the end of Comet, Ladybug Pond is a beautiful area to take a break by the water, have a snack and watch the ducks float around.

 

6. CAMPING FACILITIES

For many of the wrecking crew, one of our favorite things to do is combine a camping trip with a mountain bike trip, and SkyPark is one of the places we love to make that happen. The campground is located on the other side of Highway 18 from SkyPark itself, next to the southern parking lot, and offers unbelievable views of the valley below.

They offer a variety of different size camping sites to accommodate almost any size rig, from trucks and sprinters to RV buses and fifth-wheel trailers, with all sites having full hookups, including 50-amp power, water and waste disposal. Campers also get access to the SkyPark bathhouse, which features seven independent changing rooms that include a shower and sink to clean up after a day of sending it on the trails.

These Airstream trailers can be rented by visitors.

If you’re looking for something a little fancier, then the Skystream Resort may be your answer. A special section of restored vintage Airstream trailers offers comfortable and luxurious accommodations with an incredible view and their own private patio to provide a one-of-a-kind experience. Camping is something that we love to do with our families, and SkyPark is the perfect place to combine a weekend of spending time with the ones you love and riding your bike on epic trails in a beautiful setting.

 

7. YEAR-ROUND ACCESSIBILITY

What do you do when the chairlifts at Snow Summit, Snow Valley and Mammoth shut down for the summer season but you still want to ride your mountain bike at a bike park? You head on up to SkyPark, that’s what you do. As long as the snow doesn’t bury the trails and they aren’t sopping wet, SkyPark is open year-round to mountain biking four to five days a week.

We can’t think of another place within reach of Southern California that allows you to ride on dedicated bike-park trails any time of the year. If you’re really up to it, and you’re a fan of snow sports as well, you could even ski or snowboard in Big Bear or at Snow Valley in the morning, then ride some laps in the bike park at SkyPark in the afternoon to finish out an action-packed, albeit tiring, day. The year-round accessibility of SkyPark is also a considerable benefit in the spring and fall when the ski resorts are closed, but you still want to get out and spend some time in the mountains.

 

8. COMMUNITY & EVENTS

Fostering a community atmosphere is something that SkyPark excels at. Schools can schedule field trips and take part in grade-specific experiences in the outdoors that foster excitement for nature, or you can organize a birthday party, anniversary or other special occasion in the beautiful mountain setting. You can even get married on the property, with SkyPark Weddings offering multiple packages that include everything for your special day. They have a beautiful private ceremony area and tons of options to facilitate the wedding of your dreams for up to 250 people.

Looking at the bike trails, SkyPark runs a Thursday Youth Race Series and a Sunday Sprint Series that offers creative types of races that are fun for all ages. Courses for these races are rarely the same and take full advantage of the variety of trails that SkyPark has on the property.

 

9. VARIETY OF DINING OPTIONS

Inevitably, you’re going to get hungry after a few hours of smashing out laps out on the trails. Luckily, SkyPark has a bit of variety when it comes to food options and has something for just about anybody. Grab some pulled pork at Billy’s BBQ House or a sandwich at the Lunch Box, and take some time to relax and enjoy the atmosphere and company of your family or friends.

You can grab a drink at the Pedal Pub if that’s your thing or a quick espresso from Kringle’s Coffee to give you that much-needed boost to power out a few more afternoon laps and finish out your day. Make sure to snag a cookie on your way out at the Gingerbread House Bakery and Sweet Shop; their chocolate chip cookies are fantastic.

10. EBIKE ACCESSIBILITY

The only thing that makes SkyPark even better is the fact that it is open and accessible to Class 1 ebikes. The number of miles and laps on different trails that you can do in a single day is impressive, and we’ve had days where 30 miles or more on a full-power ebike isn’t out of the question. In addition to Upline, there is a dedicated ebike climbing trail appropriately named Electric Avenue that offers a steep and technical double-black-rated challenge for those who are feeling up to it.

When heading down Sleigh Ride, Arrow or the Neverland Jumpline, the extra weight in the bottom bracket made the bike feel incredibly stable through corners and helped carry speed through different sections that we would have to pedal through on a non-electric bike. On Comet, the extra power from the motor was a lifesaver on the punchy uphill climb about halfway through the trail and let us accelerate through the flat sections. If you haven’t ridden one, you definitely should, and SkyPark is an excellent place to start.

 

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