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Best Trails

The Upper Natural Bridge Trail of Calaveras County

Vallecito, CA

Hiking
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Walking

The Upper Natural Bridge Trail of Calaveras County is a 2 mile out and back trail located near Vallecito, California that features a cave and is good for all skill levels. The trail is primarily used for hiking & walking and is accessible from year-round.

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Recent Reviews

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Calaveras Big Trees State Park: South Grove Trail
by

2 Completed 1 Reviews

Beautiful easy hike with plenty of shade. Start the trail in the late morning and reserve some time to splash around in the creek to cool off after your hike. Bring water and bug repellent.

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natural bridges
by Leila Garces

3 Completed 1 Reviews

This is a hidden gem that we enjoyed a lot! The hike is rated easy, probably because it's short, only .7 miles each direction. Going in it is all down hill, and the trail gets pretty rocky in sections, and ends with some stairs of various sizes. The float through the cave was wonderful! There is just enough light inside to see the amazing rock formations. The water looks black once you are inside, and we were too chicken to have swam where we can't see. It is also very deep in some areas, in the middle of the cave. We hiked up stream a little ways, it really is a beautiful place! Amazing that something so unique and beautiful is still free, and in good condition. Very little human trash.
Some things to note:
Bring lots of water, there is none.
Make use of the vaulted toilets at the top, there are no restrooms anywhere else.
Bring a floaty. The water is very cold, even in July. We brought cheap inner tubes that we could blow up at the bottom, then deflate before we hiked out.
Bring water shoes, the stream bed & cave has some sharp rocks, and shoes make it nice to maneuver around.
Sign at the top says NO pets.
Please clean up after yourself & leave no trace. We picked up a bit of trash we found, to keep this area beautiful.

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Calaveras Big Trees State Park: North Grove Trail
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46 Completed 8 Reviews

Beautiful and easy, stroller-friendly, self-guided nature trail. Took my 2 year old and she loved running down the wide trail and playing in and around the giant sequoias.

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Calaveras Big Trees State Park: South Grove Trail
by

46 Completed 8 Reviews

A moderately easy, mostly shaded hike. I took my 2 year old who was in & out of the backpack and the trail was great for her. Bathrooms but no water at trail head so bring your own. From the trailhead at South Grove parking lot, you hike past a small meadow and cross a bridge over Beaver Creek (a great spot to cool off on the way back to the car). Hike gradually uphill until trail crosses a fire road. The loop begins shortly after this, and about a mile from where you begin. We went to the right and took the .5 mile spur trail to see the Agassiz Tree (biggest in the park) and it was well worth the extra distance.

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Calaveras Big Trees State Park: North Grove Trail
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14 Completed 6 Reviews

I'm not from around there which is such a same because i'd go hiking everyday if i lived around there. the scenic route is off the top amazing. so much better than hiking trails in my area. I ran into a black baby bear but it was harmless, just didn't have to bother it. It's nice and not crowded in the trail but of course it's a tourist park so the staging area is jam packed with people. I did 3 trails there, forgot which one they were but it took up my whole day. such a shame it was raining and cloudy though. made walking in the forrest a bit spooky. but when the sun came out for just a little bit, it was wonderfull because the trees provide so much shade! anwyays, i'm eventually going to go back and do more trails, when it's sunny!

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Calaveras Big Trees State Park: North Grove Trail
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56 Completed 19 Reviews

Was joined by the slower part of my family on this flat, educational trail. Very crowded in the afternoon and also tinged with sadness at how easily humans can destroy something that's grown in one spot for thousands of years.

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Calaveras Big Trees State Park: South Grove Trail
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56 Completed 19 Reviews

Easy, peaceful stroll through the trees - take the right fork as you're headed in to see more of the giant sequoias. We stopped to observe the biggest tree at the end, but were almost instantly set upon by swarms of mosquitos so bug spray may be advised.

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natural bridges
by

56 Completed 19 Reviews

This short hike is definitely more about the destination than the journey, down to the most unique swimming hole I've ever encountered. It's a popular place, though not many were daring the numbingly cold water in the middle of the cave. It was worth the chill and kept me from overheating on the walk back up.

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Calaveras Big Trees State Park: North Grove Trail
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21 Completed 20 Reviews

Super easy walk through a short loop of Big Trees Park. This trail is wide, hard-packed dirt that is heavily used. Lots of great photo ops!

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natural bridges
by

2 Completed 3 Reviews

Went here last year with my boyfriend and his family! It was an easy "hike," more like a walk. There was 2 amazing caves on the opposite ends of each other, it just requires more exploring. Also, the water is super cold to swim in, so I'd bring a floaty next time!

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