Natural Bridges Trail

Natural Bridges | Dave Bunnell

 ADVISORY: This fragile ecosystem needs your help. As one of the most popular wilderness destinations in our county, it’s up to each visitor to make sure we all do out part to make sure we do not “love” Natural Bridges to death. Please visit the Know Before You Go advisory at the bottom of this page to do your part to keep Natural Bridges open and beautiful for generations to come. ⚠

The Natural Bridges trail  is a beautiful two-mile round trip hike will lead you to spectacular limestone caverns that have been carved out by Coyote Creek which feeds into New Melones Lake. Maintained by the US Bureau of Reclamation, this natural feature is one of their recommended trails when visiting New Melones.

The trailhead is off Parrotts Ferry Road. You will need to look for the brown “Natural Bridges Day Use Area” sign on the side of the road. Due to the geological sensitivity of this outstanding natural formation, dogs and bikes are not allowed.

Natural Bridges | Dave Bunnell

The inside structure | Dave Bunnell

This is a popular hiking spot. On holiday weekends, you will see cars parked along Parrotts Ferry Road, and it may be quite crowded on the trail and/or at the feature. If at all possible, we recommend mid-week visitation in the summer. Spring is especially pretty with all of the wildflowers on the trail.

Please help us keep Natural Bridges beautiful by following our Hop Lightly guidelines. Be sure to pack out anything you take in with you.

Natural Bridges | Dave Bunnell

A view from inside Natural Bridges | Dave Bunnell

Getting There: From Highway 4, turn onto Parrots Ferry Road. Go about 4 miles and park at the marked trail head on the right. The water is very cold, but it is fun swim, wade or raft through formation. You will have to bring your own inflatable raft or other equipment. Be sure to check with youngsters to see if they need the restroom at the entrance to the trail, as there are portable toilets only at the trailhead. Watch out for poison oak on the trail.

Underneath the Upper Natural Bridge

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⚠ ADVISORY (cont’d):

Know Before You Go: If you arrive and find the parking lot is full, to help reduce impact on this fragile ecosystem, please enjoy one of our dozens of other spectacular water trails throughout the county instead, and/or plan to return to Natural Bridges midweek. Lower usage hours are before 9 am and after 5pm.

Heavy usage of any trail system negatively impacts plants, wildlife, and the natural beauty and enjoyment of the trail.

Because this is already a very heavily trafficked trail–for the preservation of this beautiful icon, Natural Bridges–it is all the more critical that we (1) leave dogs and bikes at home (2) only use the restrooms provided at the trailhead, (3) stay on trail and (4) be prepared to carry out all trash you bring on the trail . Want to live like a local? Go the extra mile by packing out any trash you see along the way as well. ⚠

Thank you for doing your part to hop lightly and preserve our beautiful resources for future generations. 

Blogs featuring Natural Bridges: Calaveras Swimming Holes & Lakes | Calaveras Summer ItinerariesWhere to Pop the Question in CalaverasGet Ready for a Wild Ride through Gold Country! | Do This! Discover Calaveras’ Hiking and Paddling Sweet Spots

Natural Bridges trail map

Trail map by USBR. Click to download PDF.

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