Calaveras Fall Itineraries

Valley Springs to Mokelumne Hill

Attractions: New Hogan Lake in Summer
New Hogan Lake in summer, Valley Springs

Day One: 

Drive in from Sacramento for some beautiful fall colors around New Hogan Lake.  Try fishing at this year-round lake for bass, stripers, catfish, and bluegills. Little coves and inlets around the lake make this a peaceful place for anglers of all levels to cast their lines. There are miles of trails that wind around the shoreline, and on the north shore is a trail especially popular with mountain bikers.  The south of the dam provides a long equestrian trail, and a nature trail is at the foot of the dam. If you’re ready for lunch, check out Hawg Dogs or Brewgers in Valley Springs to satisfy the craving for a great burger.

Now head north east on Highways 12/26 to Mokelumne Hill.  Mokelumne Hill is the western-most Gold Rush era town in Calaveras County and boasts a charming, historic Main Street which is accessed off the highway. Undulating streets with charming, period architecture and beautiful views lend old-time appeal to a stroll around town. Make reservations to stay the night at The Hotel Léger, one of only two continuously operating Gold Rush era hotels in Calaveras County. At the heart of the town’s culture, it serves as the friendly, local gathering place and watering hole, restaurant, hotel and event-center and most-famous haunted building on the west side of the county. Those with the interest and courage are encouraged to pick up a ghost-hunting kit from the front desk for an impromptu ghost-hunt.

Mokelumne Hill to Angels Camp

Shutter Tree Park Mosaic

Day Two:

Grab a quick bite and gorgeous cup of coffee at Moke-A-Java as you start your day. Head over to Shutter Tree Park and admire the beautiful mosaic created by local artists from broken porcelain pieces of tea sets left from the Chinese community from the Gold Rush era. If you stay on the weekend, make sure to book a tasting at Posterity Ciderworks, Mokelumne Hill’s own hard-cider crafter. Wild, rural, and rare, Posterity Ciderworks is a small scale cidery and orchard produces estate and small batch heritage apple, pear and quince alcoholic ciders with no sulfites or artificial colors. Sustainability and regenerative agriculture are central to their mission, as is allowing fruit varietal character to shine through. The tasting room is reservation only to guarantee a small batch experience. Chat directly with our cider maker while sipping available varietals in Mokelumne Hill, CA. To make a reservation Click Here.

Mokelumne River

After tasting some good stuff, work off some energy by heading north on Highway 49 to Big Bar Road and turn into the day-use area near the Mokelumne River. Take an easy walk along Electra Road, following the river for about three miles ending at the power plant. The day use area has bathrooms, picnic tables, a small beach area, and an access for white water rafters.  The colors here burst in the spring and fall, wildflowers and several species of trees turn from green to gold and red.

San Andreas, CA
Calaveras County Museum Complex, historic San Andreas | Lisa Boulton

Head back south on Highway 49 to San Andreas and check out the Calaveras County Museum (turn left at the flashing yellow light). The museum contains displays dating to the Gold Rush era including the original courthouse where the famous outlaw, Black Bart, the “Gentleman Bandit” was jailed and tried after he was finally captured in 1888. Their outstanding Mi Wok Indian exhibit includes artifacts, photos and quotes revealing the ancient Mi Wok lifestyle.

Keep going south on Highway 49 to Angels Camp and find any number of lodging options from hotels with modern amenities to vacation rentals on the golf course. Grab dinner at Camps at Greenhorn Creek Golf Resort or head to historic downtown Angels Camp for a bit of Old World Italian cuisine at Crusco’s Ristorante or the newest addition, Quarry Downtown for a great burger and glass of Calaveras wine.

Angels Camp to Murphys or Copperopolis

New Melones Courtesy of Instagrammer @karrcamping

Day Three:

After a rejuvenating night’s rest, head to downtown Angels Camp for a robust breakfast at Angels Creek Cafe which will fuel you for a tour of the Angels Camp Museum, open 7-days a week, 10:00 am to 4:00 pm. Home to one of the largest collections of carriages and wagons in the nation, Angels Camp Museum is an international destination with more than 30,000 square feet of exhibits on Gold Rush history. Visitors can stroll through the beautifully landscaped historical park to explore extensive indoor and outdoor exhibits that include Mark Twain, ranching, mining, and minerals, and interactive exhibits that include a human frog jump where you can try to out-jump Rosie the Ribiter and and learn how to gold pan just like the miners of 1849. Take advantage of Calaveras’ mild fall temperatures, and go for a hike at New Melones Lake.  Stop in at their visitors center/museum located just past the bridge on the left and see displays and exhibits about the area’s geologic past, Mi-Wok Indian and early human history, the California Gold Rush, mining techniques, ranching, the town of Robinson Ferry, natural history, and the New Melones project itself.

Angels Camp Museum & Carriage House | Jason B Smith
Angels Camp Museum & Carriage House | Jason B Smith

Then, you can head east to Murphys for cute shops, relaxed wine tasting, and top-rated restaurants. Stop at Murphys park for a creek-side picnic lunch, or, if you can stay the night in Murphys, attend a live theatre performance at the Murphys Creek Theatre.

Or, head east on Highway 4 to Copperopolis to the Copper Town Square, a shopping scene out of Main Street America. For an extra treat, turn left on O’Byrnes Ferry Road and stop in at Calaveras Olive Oil Company located in the historic Reeds Store building.  William K. Reed, a miner and one of the first discoverers of copper in Copperopolis, built the store in 1861 to serve the growing mining town.  There are two other historic, Civil-war era buildings left standing in Copperopolis – the Armory, a brick, Greek-revival building next door and the historic church about a quarter-mile further down the road. Stay at the beautiful, pet-friendly Gateway Hotel located in the center of Copper Town Square, close to restaurants and shopping.

One Day Excursions



Take 45-minute autumn drive from Angels Camp to Calaveras Big Trees State Park, named for the spectacular giant sequoia trees – the largest trees in the world – that were first discovered here. Once the world knew of their existence, demand to see the GIANT SEQUOIAS was immediate. Tourists began arriving at the Calaveras North Grove by 1853, and historians believe that the North Grove is the longest continuously operating tourist attraction in California, and perhaps anywhere west of the Mississippi.

This beautiful park, open daily, year round now consists of two main areas, both of which give you access to giant sequoia trees: the original North Grove with the visitors center and museum, which is open year round, and the South Grove which is open when snow season is over: late-April to mid-November. Get complete details on the trail systems from our Calaveras Big Trees State Park recreation page.


Cool Off in Calaveras, California Cavern
California Cavern Tour I Courtesy of Instagrammer @emformdesign

About a 30-minute drive from Angels Camp – Originally called Mammoth Cave, California Cavern was California’s first show cave and is its longest cavern system. Depending on the season, the guided cavern walk tour can be 45 minutes to 80 minutes long featuring an enchanting trail with beautiful crystalline cave formations in historical and recently discovered pristine areas.

The cavern walking tour takes you through several passageways into multiple chambers on a trail system. On the way, you’ll see a wide variety of beautiful white, cream and caramel colored crystalline cave formations including stalactites, stalagmites, cave popcorn, flowstones and helictites, while also learning about the cavern’s fascinating discovery and early uses.

Cavern tours usually include the lights being turned off for a moment to experience total darkness. Ask your guide to notify you when this is about to happen so you can hold on to your young children if they are likely to get scared.

One outstanding feature of this cave is its extensive labyrinth of wild, unlit passageways and crawl-ways which you can explore on two different extended cave expeditions. These trips are not recommended for the claustrophobic, but for those who don’t have a problem with tight spaces they are incredibly fun and distinctively unique.


Pardee Reservoir
Pardee Reservoir

New Hogan Lake is the perfect place for camping, water sports, fishing, hiking, mountain biking, and horseback riding. Oak-studded, rolling grassland surrounds the lake and is green and lush in spring, turning golden in summer.

Lake Camanche Resort includes a multi-award winning campground with year-round recreation and fishing with 54 miles of shoreline and 7,700 surface acres of water for all your outdoor recreational activities.

The lake features family and group camping by the lake shoreline, cottages, RV sites, hiking, boating, fishing, swimming, kayaking, equestrian trails and equestrian camping. Lake Camanche is also a popular venue for outdoor weddings, festivals, and corporate events.

Pardee Reservoir is in one of the most beautiful settings in the Mother Lode, it’s an easy drive from valley and Bay Area locations. It’s the perfect outing for day or weekend of picnicking, camping, fishing, RV’ing and relaxing with the family. The peace and quiet here is perfect for seniors and families.

The dam across the Mokelumne River that creates the Pardee Reservoir, was built in 1929. The design incorporates a one-lane road at the top and is an attractive feature of the reservoir