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a person walking through a walkway under a tree at Calaveras Big Trees State Park

The world’s largest trees lie within Sierra Nevada mountains just 4 miles northeast of Arnold and 76 miles northeast of Modesto. Calaveras Big Trees State Park serves to protect these ancient sequoia trees (thought to be at least 2,000 years old) and has done so since the California state park was first established in 1931.

Visitors have been attracted to these magnificent trees since 1852, and today enjoy exploring the miles of trails that wind through the North and South Groves and along the Stanislaus River and Beaver Creek. The park also features scenic picnic areas, two large campgrounds, rustic cabins, a Visitor Center, Museum, and Bookstore.

Activities

Imagine what the earth looked like thousands of years ago with a visit to serene Calaveras Big Trees State Park. Pack your overnight bag and binoculars and prepare to spend a few peaceful days and nights surrounded by ancient sequoia trees and majestic mountain tops.

Be sure to save some time aside for a visit to the Museum (admission is included in your park entrance fee), located inside the Visitor Center. Here you will find hands-on exhibits, wildlife displays, and more that showcase the park’s flora, fauna, and history. Then check out the Visitor Center Bookstore’s wide range of books and souvenirs.

a grouping of big sequoia trees in Calaveras Big Trees State Park

Here are some of the activities that you can do during your visit to Calaveras Big Trees State Park:

Hiking at Calaveras Big Trees State Park

Calaveras Big Trees State Park’s miles of nature trails wind throughout the majestic woodlands, along the creek, and out to the Stanislaus River Canyon.

Much of the park’s trail system is considered moderate to difficult and may be too exposed to the elements during the hot summer months. Guests should prepare ahead by wearing appropriate clothing and sunscreen, and carrying plenty of drinking water before heading out on the trails.

Here are some of the trails at Calaveras Big Trees State Park:

  • North Grove Trail – An easy 1 ½ mile loop through historic North Grove. Informative markers lie along the trail highlighting some of the history of the magnificent sequoia trees. These trees include the Pioneer Cabin Tree, The Abraham Lincoln Tree, The Father of the Forest, Old Bachelor Tree, the Granite State Tree, and the Three Graces of Greek Mythology .
  • River Canyon Trail – A difficult 8 mile trail that descends 1,000 feet into the Stanislaus River Canyon and then back out of. A scenic overlook lies along the top.
  • Lava Bluffs Trail: This moderate to difficult 2.5 mile trail passes through wildflower grasslands, up a steep incline, across a volcanic formation, and near a historic water ditch.

The Stanislau River running through Calaveras Big Trees State Park

Fishing at Calaveras Big Trees State Park

Grab your angling gear and a California fishing license before heading over to Calaveras Big Trees State Park. The park is located along the Stanislaus River and Beaver Creek, both great spots for catching Rainbow Trout, Largemouth and Smallmouth Bass, salmon, carp, crappie, bluegill, Eastern Brook and German brown trout.

Birding at Calaveras Big Trees State Park

While hiking along the trails you may observe some of the many species of birds that are native to the area. These include Pileated Woodpeckers, Northern Flickers, Steller’s Jays, Dark Eyed Juncos, Mountain Chickadees, Brown Creepers, Common Ravens, White-headed Woodpeckers, Red-breasted Sapsuckers, Townsend’s Solitaires, and Canyon Wrens.

Nature and Wildlife at Calaveras Big Trees State Park

One of Calaveras Big Trees State Park’s main attractions is its majestic sequoia trees. These giant trees are about 250 feet tall and 25 feet around! Be sure to check out the Louis Agassiz tree (the largest in the park) and the Empire State Tree during your visit.

In addition to these natural wonders you may also have the opportunity to see deer, chipmunks, squirrels, raccoons, foxes, porcupines, and maybe a Black Bear, bobcat, or a coyote.

two very large sequoia tree trunks in the woods at Calaveras Big Trees State Park

Pets

Pets are allowed within designated areas only at Calaveras Big Trees State Park. These areas include the picnic sites, campgrounds, and the fire roads. Dogs must be kept on a leash no longer than 6-feet.

Camping

Calaveras Big Trees State Park’s overnight accommodations include campsites for tents or RVs and rustic cabins.

The park’s two large campground areas have more than 120 campsites divided between them. All campsites have a picnic table and fire ring and are located near water, flush toilets, and coin-operated showers.

Each of the four cabins has two bedrooms, bathroom, kitchen, and living room area. Guests should bring their own linens along with food and other personal items. For added entertainment and comforts of home, a large recreation room is located adjacent to the cabin area. It contains a shared refrigerator, tables, chairs and a wood stove as well as a billiard table, games, and a lending library.

Park Location

Calaveras Big Trees State Park
1170 CA-4
Arnold, CA 95223
Phone: 209.795.2334

Park Website
Reservations

Map

Video

Here is a short YouTube video showcasing several attractions at Calaveras Big Trees State Park: