Upper Natural Bridge Trail is a 2.1 mile heavily trafficked out and back trail located near Vallecito, California that features a river and is good for all skill levels. The trail offers a number of activity options and is accessible year-round.

DISTANCE
2.1 miles
ELEVATION GAIN
380 feet
ROUTE TYPE
Out & Back

kid friendly

birding

hiking

nature trips

trail running

walking

cave

forest

river

views

wild flowers

wildlife

rocky

no dogs

This majestic spot features a large creek that flows through massive caves. Bring shoes that can get wet and a sense of adventure! Bring a tube to go through the cave! There are picnic tables along the trail and at the end of the trail as well. The river is shallow and has tons of areas for crawdad catching, tadpols, fish, or to put up a hammock! This is about an hour from Manteca. Great for kids, can get crowded.

23 days ago

The water in the cave is never warm, regardless of the time of year. But very beautiful if you are brave enough to go through. Bring water shoes! This is not a running trail unless you want to bust an ankle.

hiking
25 days ago

The water in the cave was numbingly cold mid-October but me and my 5 yr old still dared to jump in. It was an easy hike and a nice time down in the cave. Very fun, family friendly hike. Take towels and a floating device if you plan to brave the waters.

hiking
1 month ago

The river water was a little bit too cold for us in October but we did watch other people swim through the “cave“ to the other side back.

Whew! Highly recommended!

1 month ago

Awesome surprise at the end. Swimming in a cave!!

walking
1 month ago

This is a good trail for a light to moderate hike. There are some little inclines to get up that are a bit rocky. abouy two miles in to the cave. The cave is awesome. Very cold water but you can float or swim through. The other side is open and we climbed around to the other side.

1 month ago

I was a bit worried from some of the mixed reviews but this turned out to be fantastic! Our group included kids from 4 to teens and everyone loved it! It was fun for the younger kids and the teens thought it was awesome. The trail down is medium easy and going back up is the more intense end of easy. The cave great for all ages. Younger kids and adults who aren't as adventuresome can chill in the outer part of the cave in the cold shallow water. The water isn't swift or dangerous at all, at least not in mid-summer. We took the little ones through the cave on floaties and they loved it. It is also possible to swim without a floatie but really cold. And water shoes are highly recommended as it's very rocky. We will definitely be going back!

2 months ago

Not a running trail, it’s an ankle breaker if your not careful.

2 months ago

easy trail ...go early enough in the summer to enjoy the water

walking
2 months ago

One of my favorite places EVER!

hiking
2 months ago

There was a toilet by the car park, which I didn’t use so can’t vouch for. It’s a really nice and easy hike down to the first cave, and there are plenty of picnic spots on the way down. When you get down, the first thing you see is the cave, which you can cross into in on the stepping stones over the river. When inside, we left our backpack with our clothes and shoes, put on water shoes and inflated our pool rings. At this point, the water is pretty cold so it’s good to bring something to float into the cave on. My partner hated how icy cold the water was and how the cave was sort of scary at first but actually, once we floated through to the other side, agreed it was awesome and actually really fun. So it’s worth persuading people in your party to go through with it!
If we’d planned the logistics ahead of time it might have been good to bring a waterproof bag that could have come with us through the cave, because the other side would have been lovely to chill out on. We floated back through and got really lost as to were the path was supposed to continue, but we muddled our way down the river and found the second cave, which was pretty similar to the first. We got confused about where the path was on the way back, too, so we walked through the river in some parts. Overall, really loved the experience and the river/stream and caves were very magical, but the path itself was hard to follow after the first cave. It was also very quiet when we went, we passed only 4 people (on a Tuesday), and there were only a few instances we found of people’s rubbish so it seems to have improved since other commenters left their reviews!

walking
2 months ago

We are not avid hikers, so it was pretty intense on our unconditioned legs! Rocky but fun points on trail, several picnic tables, and swimming through the cave was the highlight for sure! Our family was age 10, 12, 35, 57, and 63. We all enjoyed it. I wouldn’t take children younger than 10 unless they are very aware and willing to listen to your instructions as several drop off’s were pretty scary. Sweat bees or yellow jackets were all over us especially by the water.

hiking
3 months ago

Great trail. Took my 5 year old and he loved it as well. Only 1 or 2 spots where there was a bit of a drop off that I had to keep a close eye on him. Also found a tick on him so highly recommend checking your party when you leave. Caves were awesome though and I can't wait to go back when it's warmer to test the water out.

3 months ago

Hidden gem!

Watch out for yellow jackets when you start the trail.

3 months ago

I’ve done this hike 4 times I love it, highly recommend swimming through the cave it’s breathtaking literally.

3 months ago

The hike down and up is an alright trail. a lot of trash... The first cave, you can go left down or right. regardless what route you take you can actually swim through the cave. I suggest water shoes some water tubes! had no Verizon coverage down there.

nature trips
3 months ago

There is two different caves one right when you get down the trail and the other is about 10-15 walk from that one...second is beautiful

3 months ago

Nice day trip with my best friends. Easy hike in. Got a little busy. Definitely will return to swim through the cave.

3 months ago

A bit disappointed. Took this trek at the recommendation of a co worker. The walk in and out really nothing to brag about but the cavern at the bottom was interesting and worth seeing this one time. The disappointment came in when I did get to the cavern the general area had trash left behind from past lazy ass visitors who didn’t want to carry their garbage back out so instead left it behind to ruin the experience for others including myself. The worst part was the smell from visitors pissing and shitting wherever they could find a place. Smelly and gross on this day 7-23-18.

hiking
3 months ago

We thought it was a water trail, so we wore sandals. It said you could wade across, actually you need a bathing suit to swim it. if I were to do again, I definitely bring hiking boots, sandals and a bathing suit. You hike down to river for about 1.5 miles on a rocky trail. you definitely need close toe shoes. There is a cavern with stalactites that the river goes through and you can swim through the cavern. The river is were I'd wear water shoes or sandals. To get back you need to hike up the trail. To go down the hill it took about 15 to 20 minutes. to hike up it took about 40 to 45 minutes.

3 months ago

Super easy hike! Brought 4 kids between 9 and 11 and all had a great time! Bring water and a floatie:)

3 months ago

beautiful scenery inside the cave... definitely will go again!!

3 months ago

This is an amazing adventure! I had to gather my courage to swim through but so glad I did. There is another cave down stream that is a bit difficult to walk to but definitely less people.

walking
3 months ago

We did this hike, arriving at 8:15am, which was perfect because we were the first people there. By the time we left around 11am the place was PACKED!!! We went to the first cave and went inside to get a taste of the water which was COLD! We didn’t end up swimming to the other side because it was too cold. I definitely recommend floats to use instead of swimming. If you look at my recording, we backtracked trying to go to the next cave (which was the wrong way) but found an AWESOME rope to climb down about 40ft to get to the other side of the cave had we swam through. It was actually a lot of fun climbing down, but had to be done carefully. We got to the other side and explored that side of the cave and also followed the river until we realized we weren’t heading the correct way to the second cave. We backtracked again and finally made it to the second cave which was spectacular. It was more secluded and we were able to wade through to the other side. It was a lot of fun to climb over rocks and sit on ledges inside. The trail getting to the second cave was also more narrow and had more rocks and foliage around. It was super fun but might be harder for someone who isn’t as physically active. To the first cave is easy, to the second cave is moderate to harder end of the “easy” ranking. I highly recommend this!!!

3 months ago

enjoyed the hike and the cave. my daughter enjoyed it also... just remember to bring some water shoes.

4 months ago

Fun place to spend a hot afternoon. Take plenty of drinking water or a water purifier. The hike back to the car is a bit hot and long for some kids. Just plan to have watermelon and some other goodies at the car for when they get back.

nature trips
4 months ago

Surprisingly not much busy on a 4th of July weekday at 10am. I suggest not to take anything but water, towel, hat, water shoes ( no flippers as you can lose or easily slip) and a must floating device to go through to the other side. You can only swim, definitely cannot wade through the water once you are about 8 feet from the mouth of the cave. My friend and I put all our hiking bags, shoes in a sealed plastic bag thinking we can leave it in the water floating while we wade through. FAILED - we were not strong swimmer and cannot hold on to the bag and swim. We found out that there is another way of getting to the other end of the cave via climbing down steep rock with a rope. This is dwfinitely a must see place.

hiking
4 months ago

A fantastic hike that's relatively easy (it's downhill to the cave) and a workout on the way back up. The terrain is very rocky but not inaccessible. There is some shade but for the most part you'll be in the sun. Once you get to the cave the are some places to sit and enjoy or get in the water for a quick cool down. Highly recommended: hiking pole, hat, plenty of water, and water shoes. I got there on a Saturday about 9:30 and there were about a dozen people there - hiking back up I probably passed 40+ people (of all ages) and there just isn't a lot of room around or in the cave.
Parking is available along the road (the cars can block the entrance sign) or down a paved road.
Enjoy!

4 months ago

Really a surprise. The trail is downhill from the road, a rocky path, with nice oaks and ponderous pines. Lots of poison oak along the sides. You can't see nor hear the river until you get right to the end, about 1 mile. then you see the overhang, the river and the cavern. It's very dramatic ... Very unique. worth the hike for sure.

nature trips
4 months ago

Amazing must go/// bring tubes /// water ///---- pack in pack out /// keep California clean

5 months ago

Love this place. Probably one of my favorite hikes. Please remember if you pack it in then please pack it out. And please DONT TOUCH the caves. The oils from your hands ruin this natural beauty.

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