The Upper Natural Bridge of Calaveras County

Angels Camp, California 95221

The Upper Natural Bridge of Calaveras County

The Upper Natural Bridge of Calaveras County Professional Review and Guide

"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."

The Upper Natural Bridge of Calaveras County Reviews

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Beautiful cave, refreshing water and easy to get to. A lot of people, so if you’re in the mood to be alone, might not meet that need
This is a totally beautiful hike, easy but on a rocky path (watch your footing), surrounded by pretty oaks and ponderosa pines. Bring a floating tube and swimwear. The caves are amazing and fun to swim through. The water is clear, cold and refreshing!
It was like swimming through Moaning Caverns! An awesome, unique experience. There are two more caverns down river towards the lake worth hiking to.
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!
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.
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.
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.
This has always been one of my favorite, local attractions. The trail is well maintained and there are places to rest along the way. This trail is alot easier now than it was in the late 70's! The grades are easy to deal with and the results are fantastic! The upper entrance was a little more tricky, but well worth the view. Limestone flows, etc. Next time I will bring a small raft and float through. One warning would have to be the Poison Oak that is scattered along the trail. It is easily avoided if one knows what it looks like though.
This a magical place. I have not been here for years. We took children 9 and 5 I can still recal the smels of the canyon vegetation and feel the heavenly August heat radiating from the limestone rocks. I need to return.

The Upper Natural Bridge of Calaveras County Photos

Trail Information

Angels Camp
Nearby City
Elevation Gain
Trail Type
Skill Level
1 hour, but allow more time to explore the cave.
All year. Nonswimmers should avoid hot afternoons from May through early September, and swimmers may prefer to avoid chilly days from October through April.
1,500 feet
Trailhead Elevation
1,500 feet
Top Elevation
New Melones Lake Recreation Area Office
Local Contacts
USGS Columbia.
Local Maps

Activity Feed

Jul 2018