You might not immediately think of outdoor recreation when you think of Murphys, but this is what makes the Sierra Foothils wine region stand out from all of the other wine regions in California. Here, you’ll find world-class outdoor recreation locations like Mercer Caverns minutes from downtown, and many more spectacular recreational environments nearby for you to enjoy:

Mercer Caverns by Dave Bunnell

Mercer Caverns Walk Tour by Dave Bunnell

Mercer Caverns was discovered during the Gold Rush, and opened as an attraction for gold miners and visitors to the area. It’s stayed in operation ever since then, and has been delighting visitors with its easily accessed chambers filled with calcite and aragonite decorations for nearly 150 years.

Murphys 9 golf course

The beautiful fairway

Forest Meadows Golf Course, designed by Robert Trent Jones Jr. is a 9 hole course at a high elevation in Murphys and features towering pines along the fairways. It’s located in a residential resort called Forest Meadows, but is open to the public. Recently downsized from 18 holes, the course is taking on a new life. For avid golfers, we’ve put together a golf and adventure travel itinerary you might enjoy.

Vallecito Top Attractions: Moaning Cavern Adventure Trip | Dave Bunnell

Adventure Trip | Dave Bunnell

Vallecito is just 10 minutes away, where Moaning Cavern Adventure Park offers wild caving expeditions – one of only a handful of showcaves in the entire United States where you can experience this thrilling activity. Of course, you’ve also got the option of exploring the cave in a more traditional way… by taking a guided walking tour. If underground isn’t your thing, maybe flying overhead on zip lines is, or race your family up their climbing tower.

Moaning Cavern Adventure Park Zip Lines

Moaning Cavern’s zip lines | Jason B Smith

Natural Bridges, Vallecito, Calaveras County

Natural Bridges Day Use Area

A few minutes from Moaning Cavern is the Natural Bridges Day Use Area – a 1-mile hike that takes you to a beautiful open cave system that you can swim through.

From there, New Melones Lake, the 4th largest reservoir in California, is just 10-minutes’ drive and can provide days of outdoor recreation entertainment on, in and by the water, not to mention, miles of beautiful hiking, biking and equestrian trails.



New Melones | Carol Richardson

New Melones Lake | Carol Richardson

Up next is the Highway 4 corridor,  home to notable recreational attractions like Calaveras Big Trees State Park, the Stanislaus National Forest, the Arnold Rim Trail and White Pines Lake. This is where the Ebbetts Pass National Scenic Byway winds through some of the most beautiful natural scenery imaginable, over the Sierra Nevada mountain range.

Outdoor Recreation: Calaveras Big Trees State Park

Giant Sequoia root system | Calaveras Big Trees State Park

Here in the High Sierra you can enjoy playing on multiple alpine lakes, skiiing, snowboarding, sledding and snowmobiling in winter, camping, rock climbing, hiking and biking the rest of the year. The outdoor recreational opportunities are endless – you can enjoy them close to civilization or embark on a full wilderness experience.

Bear Valley Mountain

Bear Valley Mountain

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