Explore the most popular trails near Vallecito with hand-curated trail maps and driving directions as well as detailed reviews and photos from hikers, campers and nature lovers like you.

Vallecito, California Map
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Hidden gem!

Watch out for yellow jackets when you start the trail.

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

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
14 days 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

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

hiking
19 days ago

I grew up in the area and never knew about this trail til recently. There's a good sized parking lot at the trailhead and a very established trail loop to the top. I went clock-wise on the loop and enjoyed the quick ascent (maybe 30 minutes to the top or so). Not much shade up top, and I went on a hot day, so be sure to have plenty of water if you go in the summer. Overall, a great little hike with some nice views of Melones reservoir.

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.

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.

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

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

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.

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!!!

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

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
1 month 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.

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!

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.

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

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.

Beautiful trail !! Great for families.
Is a short hike with lots of rocks so make sure to come properly equipped with hiking shoes or good water shoes. The rocks are very slippery , so be careful.
There’s two sides you can hike down.
Make sure to make the first left to the first side of the springs. Or else you will be hiking down a rope through s very steep rock. Dangerous by super fun

Take the southern entrance to the trail, near the gate to the access road. The northern entrance of the loop is closed and the trail is unmarked. Once at the bottom you’re greeted with a beautiful pond and a cave you can swim through.

Loved it!!! Definitely bring a tube float with you so you can see the other side of the cave!

It's an awesome, easy trail and the creek at the end, although pretty cold, is really fun to swim through. You can also swim through the cave to the other side and walk along the creek on that side too. Overall a great trail.

makes it so easy to find trails and get active. I get lost easy and this helps me stay on track.

About a mile hike in. Trails are defined and rugged at times but family friendly (5 years and up). The river and falls to Natural Bridges is impressive and a must see. Parking (along hwy) can be a bit tricky starting late morning, but well worth planning to go early in the morning. Swimming area is shaded in areas, shore is rocky and steep in areas. Beautiful location. Watch out for Poison Oak along Trail.

Great time today, on Mother’s Day, for a hike. The wife and kid braved the cold water and swam through the cave to the other side. The wife even ran into her cousin!
Easy hike down, and fairly easy uphill all the way out.
Bring a pair of water shoes and a towel.
We will be back!

Really fun trail , cave 1 visually beautiful and fun to explore around in , also a neat place to swim.Hike further down to cave 2 some scrambling and climbing required but don’t leave without exploring the second cave, this one was occupied by bats and a couple other critters.On the way to the second cave the stream was flowing with fish and there are some cool spots to sit on the smooth rocks and enjoy the stream. Save some energy to hike back out remember it’s uphill the whole way

Writing again as a father of 4. As many have said this place can get busy. We arrived just prior to 9 AM on a Saturday and were the first ones there. The restroom at the trail head is pretty rough but usable. The trail itself is easy in length but there are a couple spots that involve significant drop offs next to the trail. You'll want to keep the little ones close. There is also a ton of poison oak so stay on the trail. The cave is amazing! It's shallow enough for smaller children and those not brave enough to head into the cold dark water. For the bigs and the brave the inner part of the cave is spectacular and the other side of the main cave is less crowded. The river leading out of the cave can be traversed for quite a ways but I HIGHLY recommend water shoes. There were plenty of places to check out fish, crawdads, and tadpoles for the kids. Overall upper natural bridge is a great place to bring the family for some outdoor fun.

hiking
4 months ago

Beautiful in the Spring time, wildflowers and awesome views of the lake below. Going clockwise was a really hard start due to the steeper incline, the backside of the path was much more gradual. Hikers preference. We had trouble trying to find the start of the backside trail again in the meadow at the top. If your starting clockwise, take the trail toward the left of the meadow all the way to the end (we had a beautiful picnic here), you'll see a fence and a little wooden bench with great views over either side of the hilltop. When you turn back, stay to the left and the trail will eventually go down the backside. The trails are overgrown in the spring, but it's easy to find your way back down the front side if need-be. Highly recommend.

The wildflowers and views are spectacular. We went up clockwise so the first mile was brutal. However, the rest is easy after that. It can be a bit slippery going down because of the sand, but I really enjoyed it and will be going back again.

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