Upper Natural Bridges of Calaveras County, CA

Upper Natural Bridges of Calaveras County is off of Parrots Ferry Road in Vallecito, near Moaning Caverns and Lake Melones. There’s a small sign on the side of the road with a turnoff leading down to a dirt parking area. This shit is free and awesome. It’s about a 1.5-2 mile hike from the dirt road to the creek, swimming hole, and natural cavern. The trail is pretty cool and is a mix of red dirt and rock. At one point you’re along the side of a cliff overlooking the trees and water below. I’ve been here a few times and I’d say it’s ok during the summer but can get kind of busy with people jerking around inside the cavern on their floaties, but if you go at the beginning or end of the season there’s no one else around and it’s magical. Once you reach the bottom you’re at Coyote Creek. The cavern is made up of a natural limestone tunnel that bridges across the creek. We’ve walked on the rocks along the creek, had a picnic with our feet in the water, crawled around inside the overhang where the cavern starts, and explored around the trail. I swam through the cavern, highly recommended. It’s freezing and dark but a pretty quick swim. Because I was the only person around I just floated facing upward looking up at the stalactites. I think it’s about 50 feet high at the center. This is a pretty small place but one I would classify as a local treasure.

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