The Upper Natural Bridge of Calaveras County

Angels Camp, California

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7 Reviews
5 out of 5
One of the wonders of the Gold Country, this remarkable cave on Coyote Creek cuts clear through a limestone ridge, permitting people to swim or wade through the heart of the hillside. Even if you don’t want to get wet, the sight alone is worth the walk. The extensive karst region of Calaveras County, in the Sierra foothills, is famed for its commercially operated caves, of which Moaning Caverns is the closest to our hike. Although highly celebrated among nineteenth-century tourists, the Natural Bridges today are visited mostly by locals, who enjoy floating through them on inflated inner tubes or air mattresses. Freely accessible to the public, the Natural Bridges are managed by rangers from New Melones Reservoir, though local people also keep an eye out for vandals.
Hiking The Sierra Nevada

DESCRIPTION FROM:

Hiking The Sierra Nevada

by Barry Parr (Falcon Guides)

One of the wonders of the Gold Country, this remarkable cave on Coyote Creek cuts clear through a limestone ridge, permitting people to swim or wade through the heart of the hillside. Even if you don’t want to get wet, the sight alone is worth the walk.

The extensive karst region of Calaveras County, in the Sierra foothills, is famed for its commercially operated caves, of which Moaning Caverns is the closest to our hike. Although highly celebrated among nineteenth-century tourists, the Natural Bridges today are visited mostly by locals, who enjoy floating through them on inflated inner tubes or air mattresses. Freely accessible to the public, the Natural Bridges are managed by rangers from New Melones Reservoir, though local people also keep an eye out for vandals.

©  Barry Parr/Falcon Guides. All Rights Reserved.

Activity Type: Hiking
Nearby City: Angels Camp
Distance: 2
Elevation Gain: Minimal
Trail Type: Out-and-back
Skill Level: Moderate
Duration: 1 hour, but allow more time to explore the cave.
Season: All year. Nonswimmers should avoid hot afternoons from May through early September, and swimmers may prefer to avoid chilly days from October through April.
Trailhead Elevation: 1,500 feet
Top Elevation: 1,500 feet
Accessibility: Dog-friendly
Local Contacts: New Melones Lake Recreation Area Office
Local Maps: USGS Columbia.
Driving Directions: Directions to The Upper Natural Bridge of Calaveras County

Recent Trail Reviews

8/1/2009
0

It was like swimming through Moaning Caverns! An awesome, unique experience. There are two more caverns down river towards the lake worth hiking to.


9/15/2008
0

An easy hike, and as other reviewers noted, lots of poison oak and watch out for rattlers too. My wife and I did the hike with our daughter and son ages 8 and 9. Very few complaints except about the chilliness of the water in the cave. There are springs in the cave adding cold water to the creek. If you're taking the kids, bring along a small inflatable as the water, even in September, is too high to wade all the way through the cave. A very cool experience!


9/15/2007
0

Great, easy trail. You have to check out both sides of the upper. The beauty is stunning. Don't forget the lower about a half mile down stream. You have to check out both sides of that as well. Inside of the lower is like getting of of the boat in the middle of the "Pirates of the Carribean" ride at disneyland. The air is very cool and refreshing on a warm day as is the water. Watch out for the poison oak. It is quite abundant. Dont forget your flashlight or headlamp as it will make exploring more enjoyable.


8/29/2005
0

It would be a shame to be anywhere near this trailhead and fail to make this trip. The 3/4 mile hike on a broad and well maintained trail is easy. The cavern is both accessible and spectacular.


8/12/2005
0

This is a fantastic place. The river flows through the cavern. From the lower end it appears to be dark, but as you enter you see that the upper end is not far, the ceiling becomes much higher and there's enough light to see the amazing rock formations. During August, the river is still icy cold, but refreshing compared to the hot weather you're likely to have. The stream bed is rocky: mostly smooth pebbles and boulders (bring water shoes or sandals in addition to your walking/hiking shoes). It's usually too deep to wade all the way through the cavern, but the current is weak enough that it's easy to swim or paddle an inner tube from one end to the other of the tunnel. At the lower entrance, small showers and waterfalls sprinkle you as you make your way in. Small (3-5") fish can be seen in the shallower, lighter areas. This is a great family spot, but be prepared for no toilet facilities - and the hillsides are dense with poison oak. The short trail is steep and rocky in a few places. Part of the trail is shaded, but much of it is sunny, so bring sun protection and drinking water.



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Apr 2018