This was originally an "add on" activity to our trip to Julian, but it ended up being the highlight of the trip!
The train ride was adored by both our 4 & 8 yr old sons, and the driver included a lot of interesting facts for the adults as well. I also liked that the view on the way up - the train winds up a hill instead of the typical "slow ride around a circle" that most kiddie trains follow. Interesting views, plus it even picked up a little speed on the way down (would still be fine for seniors - just made it extra-fun for the kids).
At the top of the hill, you get out and explore an authentic mine from 1870. Little kids don hard hats and enter via an old ore cart on wheels. It's a relatively small mine, but as a parent, this was a MUCH better match for our family than the larger mine (with no train).
The kids get some time to pan for "gold nuggets". They then trade these in at the trading post for licorice (and can keep their favorite nugget). Other memorable things at the top included a rope bridge, mini train & log "fort" (the scouts come here for activities and are building that one right now).
The family that runs the ranch is very impressive, and it felt good supporting them (and I'm not normally "mushy" that way). Fun to see father, mother, sons, friends, etc. all working together to put on a heck of a show for families. We'll definitely be back :-)
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