Go for it! An active adventure awaits

Spring in Calaveras is way too fun to miss…

Bring your friends and family and get ready for a big adventure.  We’ve put together an action-packed itinerary for folks who are looking for big thrills in the Sierra Foothills and beyond: 

Conveniently located just outside of Big Trees State Park in Arnold, stop by Bristol’s Ranch House for a delicious, filling and just-what-you-had-in-mind breakfast. The line of cars outside proves it’s a go-to spot for locals and visitors alike.

OARS Whitewater Rafting
OARS Whitewater Rafting

Meet up with O.A.R.S. Whitewater Rafting in Big Trees for a day of big water on the North Fork of the Stanislaus River. Ride through Class IV+ doozies like Beginner’s Luck, Body Slam and Surf City on an exhilarating half-day trip. This unique whitewater run is typically only available for a small window of time each Spring, so make sure to call ahead to find out if/when trips are available.

Keep the adrenaline pumping all day long and mountain bike the Arnold Rim Trail, 10-miles of single track trail through pristine forest with incredible vistas at Cougar Rock and trailside bonuses like San Antonio Falls overlook. The trail, which connects White Pines to Avery/Sheep Ranch Road is well-marked, but it’s still advisable to have a map since many fire roads intersect the route. Pick one up at the Stanislaus National Forest Ranger Station in Hathaway Pines.

Arnold Rim Trail
Photo courtesy the Arnold Trail Association

If you’re more of a hiker, make it a full-day trip the following day, or access only a portion of the trail via various fire roads for a shorter hike.

The best way to reward all that activity is with a Giant Burger in Arnold. By the name it should be clear what to order. But don’t skimp and go for one of their extremely thick milkshakes too. If you like flavored shakes, you’ll have plenty to choose from here including boysenberry, banana and root beer.

Stanislaus River at Sourgrass Rerecreation Area
Sourgrass Recreation Area | Sandi Pearce

Area Lodging: Camp with the giants at Big Trees State Park, sleep riverside at the Sourgrass Recreation Area Campground or grab a room at one of the motels in Arnold.

Have more time in the area? Here are a few other suggestions…

Snowshoe in the Spring. On one end of Calaveras the wildflowers will be blooming and on the other, there will still be mountains of snow, perfect for snowshoeing in short sleeves. In the Spring, favorite summer hikes like Mt. Reba and Inspiration Point near Lake Alpine offer stunning views of snow-capped peaks as far as meets the eye. Leave from the gate at the end of Hwy. 4, which is usually closed until Memorial Day Weekend. Check road conditions here to see if the highway is open.

Photo courtesy of Jordan and Zoey

Paddle Pardee. While some try to hang on to their snow sports for as long as they can, others have a chance to launch their kayaks and start welcoming in summer. Put your boat in at Pardee Reservoir, a scenic low-elevation lake with several fingers that are ideal for flat-water paddling and exploring.

Outdoor Recreation in Valley Springs - Pardee Reservoir
Pardee Reservoir in spring