The Trees, Lakes, and Caverns of Calaveras County

By Rachael Medina May 21, 2019

Upon arriving at Calaveras County’s Big Trees State Park, you’ll find yourself standing amongst the towering groves of giant sequoias, listening to the subtle swish of the Stanislaus River and the hushed voices of dozens of campers whose tents are settled between ancient Sierra redwoods. One of the county’s main attractions, Big Trees State Park welcomes hundreds of thousands of visitors every year, eager to see and learn about the largest trees in the world. Though it’s incredibly worthwhile to spend a day or two following the trails here, this destination is far from the only reason to visit the quaint mountain towns and luscious green space spread across the northeastern region of California.

Calaveras County entered the limelight when California Cavern became the first cave discovered during the Gold Rush, immortalized in John Muir’s The Mountains of California and designated as a National Historic Landmark. California Cavern remains a standout today as the state’s longest cavern system, with a labyrinth of passageways featuring stalagmites and various cave formations. If California Cavern inspires you to continue exploring the natural wonders of the state, then Moaning Cavern is the perfect destination to visit next. Though it sports a shorter system of caverns, it is home to the biggest cave chamger in the state—so large that the Statue of Liberty could fit inside of it.

If relaxation is what you seek, delight in the county’s multitude of lakes, which are ideal for lounging and enjoying any season’s unique beauty. From Salt Spring Valley Reservoir in the south to New Hogan Lake in the north, Calaveras County will leave you feeling refreshed. For a leisurely glimpse into the county’s history, take a trip down Main Street to the historic San Andreas. With the vintage feel of an old mining town but home to modern attractions—including cafés, museums, and a host of restaurants specializing in various cuisines—San Andreas serves as the perfect retreat after a long day of cave crawling and hiking.