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A 3-Hour Ride to Julian’s Cool Forest & Apple Capital

At our ranch we often tire of the summer heat and take a quick ride to Big Bear, one of our favorite day trips from the High Desert.  We say we’re getting our “Fill of green.” Then we’re satisfied and head back to the High Desert and hotter temps.

A quaint an historical Country Inn

A cozy and quaint historical country inn

When the seasons change in the mountains they often cool down much faster than the High Desert. September is the transition month when Julian’s apple production is at its highest. With that come the tourists who love everything about apples. So this time we decided a longer break into the forest just prior to the seasonal change, would be just the thing.

We headed a week before Labor Day, to Julian in San Diego’s high country, Apple Kingdom of the World, or something like that. It’s an historical area known for its apples and goldmines. Say, what?Yup. Julian’s fame is its outstanding core revenue. (excuse the pun) Everything is about apples. All the old storefronts have been kept to appear like the turn of the century, that’s 1900s. Many of the shops and Bed and Breakfast buildings are original to the area. It’s beautiful, friendly, and full of things to do.

Whether you walk the boardwalks of Main Street or drive around to enjoy the narrow streets to view lovely two-story homes planted on the hillsides, Julian is a step back in time. It boasts a large number of restaurants, all with apples on the menu — pies, tarts, cakes, cookies, shakes, ciders, and candies. Many eateries have open patios, pit BBQs, and music on the weekends.

Since we chose to come during the last week of a hot summer, our country inn rates were lower — it was a treat because we usually camp in our trailer. We chose Julian Country Inn, a quaint two-level with six hosted rooms, some with balconies, all with décor of the mining district it catered to years earlier. We felt right at home.

Setting abound with collections from the old mining days

Setting abound with collections from the old mining days

The reason I’m mentioning this is that for a short 3-hour ride, you and your family can take a break and not have to “break the bank.” Rates are nominal for that time of year. Everyone is gearing up for the Apple Season ahead. From mid-September through late November, the town of Julian goes crazy with parades, special programs, apple tasting, and more. If you love that kind of festive activity, go for it now before all the rates go up.

Remember I said gold? While you’re steeped in its history take one of the mining tours. Several gold mines are open for either an ore-cart or train trip, or walking tours.

We chose the Eagle Mine and since it was late afternoon, our group was comprised of only three others. I love tours with so few people because its more tailored to your interests and you can ask more questions. Believe me, I asked a lot. I’m not new to caving or mine tours, but I was intrigued by the family that lived their whole lives dedicated to the mine. Craig was our guide and he was very entertaining as he walked us through. It was fun to hear his stories of playing in the mines when he was growing up. His grandfather owned the property. Craig is just part of mining and he loves telling everyone about it. The gift shop will blow your mind.

For only $10 per adult, and $5 for children up to 13, the mining camp  appears like it must have in the 1920s. To get there, you’ll climb out of Julian for just a few miles. Take 3rd Street and follow the signs.  Call ahead to be sure an Eagle Mine tour is scheduled: (760) 765-0036. The tour is about 50 minutes and the mine is fairly flat with a dirt floor. The old  narrow ore cart rails are still in the ground so you will need to walk between them. Not recommended for folks with limited walking ability or wheelchairs. In many places the mine ceilings are low. Eagle Mine is as true to itself as the Julian folks who live and work there.

I’m always amazed at the tenacity of mining folks and those who commit their lives to surviving in remote  or rural settings. We often think they might be “crazy” but after you’ve

Julian Country Inn

Julian Country Inn offers the solitude of the mountains 


been there, it’s true. They have to be crazy!

We finished our visit with a scrumptious Italian dinner at Romano’s back in town, a quiet night at the Inn before preparing to head down to Anza-Borrego’s desert the next morning. It was a great end-of-summer outing and a cool adventure.

Rusty LaGrange

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