Southern Californians who want a taste of winter love to take a drive to the Backcountry when the snow starts to fall.
Julian welcomes visitors all year long, but if you are coming to experience the winter wonderland, there are some things to consider before heading up the hill. First among them are being prepared to stay safe in the chilly conditions and respecting private property.
The two-lane roads that lead in and out of town — Highways 78/79 from the west and Highway 79 from the south — can quickly become jammed when the population swells with snow-seekers. Drivers should check conditions before heading up the mountain to determine if chains are needed at higher elevations and be prepared to wait in long lines. That means having the proper chains for your vehicle and knowing how to install them. It also means filling the gas tank and carrying the proper tools, sledding equipment and clothes to manage snowy conditions.
The best bet for enjoying the snow while being a good guest is to limit your visit to public parks and public streets. Most private roads are marked as such, but if there is no county street sign, you are likely on a private road and should head back to the public thoroughfare. No one enjoys having a blocked driveway, and that charming single-lane road with the new-fallen snow could be the only egress for residents who live there. For civility and safety, please do not cross fences or gates to play in the snow on private property, where you could unknowingly sled over someone’s yard tools or destroy a budding spring garden.
Julian Chamber of Commerce publishes a list of picnic areas where visitors are welcome at visitjulian.com/picnic-sites. In addition, safe winter driving tips are available at chp.ca.gov. Call 800-427-7623 for real-time road condition updates.
Playing in the snow is a lot of fun for kids and adults, but it can become a disappointment or worse for those who are not prepared. Dress in warm layers with a waterproof outer layer and apply sunscreen to exposed areas. For sledding, choose a hill that is not too steep and has a flat area at the bottom for coasting to a stop, to avoid injuries. Make sure there are no trees, fences, streets or parking lots at the end of the sled run.
With a little preparation and common sense, a day to play in the Julian snow can be a day well spent.
By Ann Reilly Cole; Photos by Megan Peralta