Best Activities for Kids and families

We have owned our cabin since our oldest child was an infant.  Our kids are now six and nine and love coming up to the mountains to go fishing, swimming and explore the woods.  Here are some activities by age group to help you plan your vacation in the mountains. Due to the steep and hilly terrain we recommend leaving bicycles at home.

Activities for Toddlers - 1 to 4 years old:
Stop by the Arnold public library and get a free library card to check out kids books and videos.  The library has story times several each week and free WiFi for adults.  We keep an infant and toddler life jacket in the bunk room closet for guests to use during their stay.  You may also check out free lifejackets from memorial day through labor day at the Arnold Fire station on Blagen road next to Ace Hardware.  The cabin also has plenty of games and toys for kids of all ages as well as Netflix, Amazon Prime video and HBO streaming on every TV.

Snowflake Lodge and Lodge Lake:
The Snowflake Lodge in Blue Lake Springs has a heated pool, a lake with swim docks and many games such as shuffleboard, basketball, ping pong, a kids playground, tennis courts, horseshoes, frisbee golf, etc. You can stop by the lodge and get a schedule for the weeks crafting activities, there are also outdoor movies on Wednesday and Friday evenings.

Big Trees State Park: 
We highly recommend a trip to Big Trees state park to hike the redwood trail, it is an easy hike and they have a short loop for younger kids or longer and steeper loops for the bigger kids in the group. Our last group liked the park so much they went twice during their stay. 

Arnold Logging Museum: 
Visit the Logging museum on your way to take a hike on the Arnold Rim Trail or to explore around White Pines Lake.  Entry to the museum is free but donations are accepted. 

Arnold Rim Trail: 
There is an entrance to the trailhead for the Arnold Rim Trail behind the logging museum which has a mile of paved trail and then opens up to hiking and single-track mountain biking.

Lake Alpine Boating:
Enjoy an afternoon of boating, hiking and exploring in this pristine alpine lake.  Motor boats, kayaks and rowboats can be rented at the Lake Alpine Lodge but be sure to arrive early if going on a weekend as parking is limited and the boat rentals can be booked up.  There are plenty of sandy shallows and islands that can be waded and swam to from the shore.  Lifejackets can be borrowed from the Arnold Fire Station from memorial day to Labor Day.  The restaurant has a good selection of food and drinks with an excellent view of the lake from the outdoor deck.

Moaning Cavern and Mercer Caverns:
These attractions are seasonal and are generally closed in the Spring and winter when groundwater levels become too high.  For summer adventure check out Moaning and Mercer Caverns which are about a 30 minute drive down the hill.  Kids of all ages can go into the caves but you will have to carry them up and down a lot of steps if they are not steady on their feet.  Moaning Caverns also features twin ziplines and gold panning in their adventure park.  Bring a picnic lunch and drinks or drive into Downtown Murphys and visit one of the many family friendly restaurants.

Historic Columbia State Park:
Columbia State Historic Park, also known as Columbia Historic District, is a state park unit and National Historic Landmark District preserving historic downtown Columbia, California, USA.  Experience an 1849 gold rush town preserved as it was in the height of the California gold rush.  This is a great learning activity where kids and adults can experience life in a gold rush town including; watching a Blacksmith, taking a stagecoach ride, and panning for gold while touring this historic site.  There are few restaurants in town so consider bringing a picnic lunch and drinks with you. 

Sourgrass Day Use Area:
Due to our heavy winter season we recommend against visiting any part of the Stanislaus river this summer.  Many river crossings and access roads have washed out and currents are much stronger than previous years.  Strong currents, very cold water and slippery rocks make the river unsafe for even older children this summer.  We recommend visiting one fo the local lakes instead of the river.

Fishing Spots:
There are plenty of great fishing spots around but some are closer than others. For a quick fishing trip we would recommend White Pines lake, it is just down Blagen road near the logging museum and only about 5 minutes away from the cabin. Be sure to stop by Ebbetts Pass sporting goods and pickup a fishing license as the rangers do check and the fines are much more than the license. For a half-day trip we highly recommend Lake Alpine. You will want to bring sunscreen and towels and go up for a few hours at least. You can rent boats at the Lake Alpine lodge and take a motor boat or rowboat around the lake to fish. The lodge also has kayaks and canoes for rent if you want to cruise around the lake without a motor. There are beaches around the lake but be sure to bring shoes, water shoes, or sandals as the terrain can be rocky.  The lake Alpine lodge has a restaurant and has a good menu but we recommend bringing a picnic lunch and hiking around the lake. 

Note:  We recommend checking with the folks at Ebbetts Pass Sporting goods for bait recommendations as it varies by location.