A first-timer’s guide to bungee jumping from the Bridge to Nowhere with Bungee America
Written By: Sarah Chorley Where to Go for Your First Time Bungee Jumping
Photographed By: Anh Nguyen
Personally, I didn’t think twice when asked if I would go bungee jumping. The answer was automatically yes. Overthinking a bungee jump trip might result in chickening out and changing my mind. So for anyone who might be considering taking the jump, I suggest not overthinking— just jump! With proper safety precautions, of course.
For my bungee jump journey, I had the privilege of hiking out with the experienced guides at Bungee America, who led me and about 30 other adventurers down a five-mile trail ending at the ominously-named Bridge to Nowhere. The hike isn’t too difficult if you’re physically active, unless you have a hard time with hiking narrow trails. The bridge is located in the Angeles National Forest, past the boundary of the park on privately-owned land. A short drive from Los Angeles or Orange County, participants will want to reserve the whole day for this trip. Keep in mind you’ll be without cell phone reception, so save driving directions to your phone or print directions beforehand. Also, arrive early for good parking.
Jumping takes place from a tall bridge overlooking shallow but rushing streams that encircle beautiful grey boulders. Below the bridge is the perfect place for onlookers to sit and admire jumpers who will be inevitably screaming with fear and shaking with delight as adrenaline pumps through their veins. Take it from me, participants have nothing to fear as they actually jump. Multiple guides double check every safety system and ensure jumpers are safe at all times. In fact, the jump is secured by not one, not two, but three cords. I didn’t feel afraid at all before jumping, because I felt very confident in the safety mechanisms.
Emotions were running high as participants prepared for their turn to jump. The group was nervous and excited at the same time and, occasionally, terrified. I knew I wanted to go toward the beginning of the group, but not first. You know, just in case—best to let someone test it out first. But I felt perfectly comfortable after watching the first two people jump. After the crowd of other jumpers and onlookers counted to three, I leaped backwards off the platform with my arms out like a starfish and enjoyed the thrill of falling through the air. This part was really intense because for a moment, you forget that you’re going to bounce back up. Instead, all of your focus is centered on the free-falling sensation, which is both surreal and exhilarating. Just a few seconds seemed to take an eternity as I waited for the cords to fully stretch and launch me back up toward the sky. After the initial catapult brings your body back up and then down a few more times, you lose momentum and are left swinging below the bridge before being reeled back upward. All of my energy was so focused on enjoying the fall that I actually forgot to scream when I jumped from the bridge. As I was swinging around at the bottom, I finally let out a scream. It felt good.
Only after the initial jump, as I fell freely through the air between the bridge and the water, before the tension on the cord whipped my body back up in the air, did I feel like I truly jumped off of a bridge. Waiting for the cord to catch me was the most intense part. I had been worried that the snap of the cord would be harsh and cause major whiplash, but it was actually quite cushioned and didn’t hurt. The harness jumpers wear center the return bounce throughout the body and two harnesses are attached to the chest and hip area. Helmets ensure head protection and can also be used as a camera mount to document the jump for your family and friends’ entertainment (and chagrin).
The staff at Bungee America is a fun, funny, but also professional, group. They ensure that participants are safe during all aspects of the jump and encourage those experiencing last minute apprehensions. Jumps can be made facing forward or backward, and jumpers can jump either once or twice (price varies according to the number of jumps). After the jump, participants even get a T-shirt as bragging proof of their jump. I’d suggest going with a friend to create silly videos of one another.
After such a big adrenaline rush, the five-mile hike on the way back feels a little longer than it did before bungee jumping, so drink plenty of water throughout the day. The team at Bungee America actually has a water purification system for participants on the bridge, so be sure to fill up before you depart.
Overall, the experience was very safe and fun. I’d say it makes a great day date for an active couple, a cool outing for friends or even a fun solo adventure. So the next time a frenemy tells you to “go jump off a bridge, ” consider entertaining the suggestion (with bungee cords, of course). Send them a cheeky photo of yourself springing through the air, having the time of your life, to thank them for the great idea.
Dress for Success:
It will be chilly when you arrive, so start your day with pants and a jacket. However, you’ll eventually get hot so make sure to dress in layers that can be easily removed.
Wear clothes that won’t get bunched up by the harnesses.
Bring sunscreen, or some sort of sun protection.
Wear a hat and sunglasses for the hike.
Take a good hiking bag, or a small, light-weight, comfortable backpack.
Don’t worry any favorite pieces of clothing
A change of shoes and socks is really useful. You’ll cross water that isn’t deep, but I did get blisters from walking with wet socks on the return hike—the cool water will feel nice but the feeling of getting blisters will not.
Bring a bag in which to put wet and dirty socks and shoes.
After your first jump, each additional jump is $50. You’re required to do three jumps (minimum) before instructor’s allow you to do an advanced jump, such as the Ankle Dive, Elevator or Lumberjack.
Bring snacks; the trail is a good length and halfway through the hike the group takes a little break. Be sure to bring some fast and easy snacks like apple sauce packets, trail mix or granola bars. Make sure to keep your trash in your pack; there are no garbage cans in the park.
Ten Tips for an Easier Adventure:
1. Make sure your camera has extra batteries or memory cards. However, photography is discouraged on the way up to the bridge to maximize jumping time.
2. Bring a swimsuit and hang out in the river below to relax before hiking back.
3. Take a friend or two. Even if they don’t jump, have them take lots of ridiculous photos.
4. Don’t bring a giant water bottle. The bridge has a water purifier for refills, so just bring a small bottle for the way up. That way you aren’t lugging around a huge bottle for the whole trip.
5. Sunscreen is vital—the two-hour hike is mostly in the sun!
6. Focus on enjoying the sensation of jumping and the exhilaration of the free fall instead of any fear you might be feeling.
7. Try both the Superman Front Dive and the Backwards Plunge!
9. Trust the harness and enjoy the ride! Let out a good, healthy scream as you jump.
10. Brag to all your friends when you’re done.
Bungee Jump America
E Fork Rd
Azusa, CA 91702
310.322.8892 | www.BungeeAmerica.com