Four miles north of Arnold off Highway 4, northeast of Stockton, the colossal trees of Calaveras Big Trees State Park stand in quiet testimony to prehistoric times. These massive relics, which can reach a height of 300 feet and a diameter of 33 feet, are descended from trees that were standing when dinosaurs roamed the Earth, and birds, mammals and flowering plants began to appear. Some of today’s trees are thought to be as old as 2,000 years. In addition to the popular North Grove, the park features the South Grove, a five mile hiking trip through a spectacular grove of giant sequoias in their natural setting. Other attractions in the park include the North Fork of the Stanislaus River, Beaver Creek, the Lava Bluff Trail and Bradley Trail. Activities include camping, Saturday evening ranger talks, numerous interpretive programs, environmental educational programs, junior ranger programs, hiking, mountain biking, bird watching, and activities for school children. November - March, weather permitting, cross-country skiing, snow play, and the popular 1pm Saturday snowshoe hikes.
This is a great hike for families, and for individuals of all ages and abilities. If you are looking for a trail to get started with, if you want to get your kids interested in hiking, this is a great place to go. The path is well maintained, and is a boardwalk for much of the trail, so there is no tricky terrain. Great place to just let the kids run and enjoy the beauty all around. We completed this trail in about an hour.
If you are looking for a challenging trail, this is not for you. Great place to get kids motivated to do harder trails in more remote corners of the Sierras though.
This was a great trail to view the redwoods but way too touristy for me. It was Labor Day so plenty of "holiday naturists", kids yelling at times, disrespecting the forest, etc. We ended up hiking the River Trail (much much less crowded) made it about 1.5 miles but turned around because it was too much for the kids. I'd love to go back and hike the entire River Trail (4 mile) to the Stanislaus River.
Alice R. on Calaveras South Grove Trail
Great hike. Absolutely beautiful! The interspersed dogwoods kept the trail in partial shade the whole one. Very nicely maintained trail.
There's nothing like seeing the Sierra's Giant Sequoias. This park is often crowded, but the 1.7-mile loop is always rewarding. The forest here is very lush with wildflowers, berries and even ferns.
Consider coming when the dogwoods are in bloom. In the winter, it's a great place to snowshoe or cross-country ski. Also, check out the 3-years-new visitors center. It was partially funded by the park's support group and is a testimony to its status as one of the most beloved jewels of the California State Park system.