Discover Calaveras: Arnold, Camp Connell, Dorrington, & Ebbetts Pass Scenic Byway

As the starting point for the Ebbetts Pass Scenic Byway, Arnold might be considered the gateway to the Sierra (and the big trees for that matter), but this rustic mountain town (elevation 4,000-feet) is a vacation destination in and of itself. Sure, Arnold is a great base camp for everything from skiing at Bear Valley to wine tasting in Murphys, but for a true mountain escape away from the crowds, you can stay right in town. We guarantee you won’t be bored. Here are some great things to do while you are visiting the Arnold area…

Calaveras Big Trees State Park

Calaveras Big Trees State Park by OARS
Calaveras Big Trees State Park | O.A.R.S.

Wander through some of the biggest trees on the planet. Just 3-miles from the heart of Arnold you’ll find Calaveras Big Trees State Park, where you’re able to see not one, but two groves of the world-famous Giant Sequoias up-close-and-personal. Visitors can hike, picnic, or even camp, among the park’s magnificent sequoias which can be as much as 30-feet wide and tower more than 300-feet above ground. It’s a mind-blowing experience to step foot beneath these giant trees knowing that their canopy holds its own ecosystem.

Arnold Rim Trail

Arnold Rim Trail | Cougar Rock
Cougar Rock | Photo: Arnold Rim Trail Association

Stand on “Top of the World.” There’s only one way to get to the top of the world from Arnold, and that’s via the Arnold Rim Trail (ART), a 17-mile wooded trail system that links the communities of Arnold to Hathaway Pines. Head to the trailhead at the Sierra Nevada Logging Museum and hike approximately 10.8 miles round trip with significant elevation gain and loss through beautiful pine forest to a stunning ridge and overlook known as, Top of the World.  Linger as long as you like, or perhaps enjoy a picnic here, as you take in sweeping views of the Sierra in all directions.

Sourgrass Recreation Area

Sourgrass Recreation Area | Lisa Boulton
Sourgrass Recreation Area

Discover the Sourgrass Recreation Area, found just outside Dorrington off of Boards Crossing Road from Highway 4.  This beautiful spot provides easy access to a day-use area with picnic and BBQ areas, restrooms, and the 49-site USFS campground, Wa Ka Luu Hep Yoo – WaKaLu is the MiWuk meaning for “river” and Hep You meaning “untamed” or “wild force of nature”. Over 2,000 years ago, the campground was the site of a seasonal, MiWuk village established under tall pines, incense cedars, and black oaks growing around enormous, granite boulders. You can still see markers of the Native American way of life such as the preserved grinding stones throughout the campground. Perfect for picnicking, hiking and exploring river shore trails, fly fishing, or, for the highly experienced rafter, there is a put-in for this segment of Class IV+ whitewater.  Remember, especially in the spring, the river rocks and trails get really slippery, and this segment of the river is swift and turbulent.  Swimming is strongly discouraged.

White Pines Lake

Attractions: White Pines Lake | Lisa Boulton
White Pines Lake | Lisa Boulton

Get geared up. Whether it’s the beginning of spring, and you’re looking for wildflowers and picnicking, the middle of the summer, and you’re looking to canoe or paddleboard on White Pines Lake, or there’s a fresh layer of snow, and you’d love to snowshoe and make some fresh tracks along the Arnold Rim Trail, Sierra Nevada Adventure Company (SNAC) should be your first stop. This local outfitter and outdoor store has a variety of rental options and can always point you in the direction of a great adventure. Or, head over to Ebbetts Pass Sporting Goods for local insider fishing tips and all kinds of rentals for outdoor activities – no matter the season! One of the most amazing things about this lake is that it is run 100% on volunteers and donations – the community owns and cares for the park. Be sure to help them out by keeping the lake clean and tidy after your visit.

Mountain Biking Trails EVERYWHERE

The Highway 4 Corridor packs in hundreds of exquisite biking trails of all levels for all kinds of riders. From the Arnold Rim Trail to Bear Valley, you will find trails that will get your heart pumping and take you to and through some incredible Sierra Nevada mountain top views. Stop in to Mountain Aloha Mountain Biking shop in Avery or Bear Valley Bicycles to find all the latest and greatest info about mountain biking gear, trails, and community.

The Arnold Rim Trail (ART) is a unique, non-motorized trail system at mid-elevation in the central Sierra Nevada Mountains designed for hikers, mountain bikers and equestrians, connecting the many wonders of public lands along the Ebbetts Pass National Scenic Byway stretch of Hwy 4 to its communities, creating a high level of access for its residents and visitors. You’ll discover breathtaking vistas with panoramic views stretching from Mt. Diablo in the East Bay Area to snowy Mt. Lyell on the high eastern slopes of the Sierras near Yosemite, then dive down into canyons with streams coursing through the shade of older growth forests of cedar, pine, fir and oak.

Bear Valley has opened two mountain biking trails, both accessible by a highspeed chair lift recently outfitted with bike carriers. More than four miles of trails integrate berms, bank turns, tabletops, and other features mountain bikers expect on a proper biking trail. The new trails integrate the existing trails throughout Bear Valley and create a complete loop between the Bear Valley Lodge and the Village. Bear Valley Adventure Company updates trail conditions and can be of invaluable information for the best mountain biking adventures.


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