Calaveras Big Trees SP and Caving Experience
September 19-22, 2013

Join us on this fun filled 4-day weekend of camping in our own private forested area as we discover this hidden California treasure. We will hike and explore among the giant Sequoia groves in Calaveras Big Trees State Park. Big Trees offers’ un-crowded brilliant fall colors & an unparalleled nature experience. You can walk through the trees and witness first hand these biggest of nature's giants. The biggest trees are truly big—250 to 300 feet high and 25 to 30 feet across. And they’re ancient—2,000 to 3,000 years old. The trees are relics from a warmer and wetter time, the Mesozoic Era, some 180 million years ago, when dinosaurs roamed the earth. You will get all the beauty of the Sequoia forest without the mass crowds found in Sequoia National Park.

Are you also ready for a Caving Adventure? This is a great opportunity for both newbies to caving and experienced spelunkers alike to spend a ½ day squeezing, crawling and spelunking through the State Historic Landmark of California Caverns on a fully guided tour through “middle earth”. Caving carries the lure of the unknown and the thrill of discovery.  Along with a trained guide -- you'll enter a labyrinthine world of narrow pathways and tight crevices, lit only by the yellow glow of your headlamp. Wade through water or scale through rocky walls. See underground chambers filled with dangling stalactites and adorned with colorful, intricate calcite deposits.

There will be other things to do for those of you who don’t want to do the big cave exploration; there will be an option for an easier cave tour, more hiking, visits to historic California gold rush towns or an afternoon of wine tasting.

Campground: The campground has running water, showers and flush toilets. We have reserved two group camping sites allowing us ample space to spread out and enjoy this place, along with a private restroom/shower area for our use! We have the entire group area to ourselves – an entire private forest. Take this opportunity for some great fall camping. We encourage carpooling. You can participate in as many or few of our scheduled activities as you feel fit. After all, it is your weekend!

HighlightsGeneral ItineraryCancellation PolicyTrip Photo

North Calaveras Grove
The North Grove Trail, just off Route 4, is the main attraction of Calaveras Big Trees State Park. The grove has a low density of sequoias and is mostly a typical Sierra pine forest with a few sequoias scattered around. However, the pines are themselves fine-looking old-growth, straight and tall. The lodgepole pines, with their smooth tan-colored, perfectly cylindrical trunks, are especially attractive. North Grove is at an unusually low elevation for a sequoia grove and therefore has a very dense understory. Dogwood in particular is very common and tends to block the views of the at eye level; you have to look up above the understory to see the sequoias. This makes the grove difficult to photograph.

South Calaveras Grove
Typically for a lower-elevation sequoia grove, South Calaveras Grove is densely wooded and has a dense understory of dogwoods. The grove also has a low density of sequoias; over 3 miles of hiking in the grove, you might see only about 30 or 40 big trees, most of them some distance from the trail. It's essentially a normal Sierra pine forest with a few big trees scattered here and there throughout the grove. The sequoias are fine-looking examples, though, with the characteristically pinkish, stout and perfectly cylindrical trunks that don't taper as they rise through the canopy. The South Grove is wonderfully remote and feels much more pristine than the North Grove. The 8-mile drive into the park, followed by a 1-mile uphill hike to reach the grove, ensures that the grove isn't too heavily visited. The rushing sound of a little (mostly unseen) creek that flows near the trail emanates through the woods.

Middle Earth Expedition
Groups explore approximately 80% of the cavern system from the east entrance to the western most exit. The circuit is about a mile long, so stamina is required! The first hour of the trip consists of walking, crawling and squeezing through the historic "Mammoth Cave" area. Then groupspass through the "Middle Earth" area which was discovered in 1980. Here there is mostly walking through nearly knee deep, sticky cave clay (high top shoes are a must) and the scenery is incredibly beautiful. The remainder of the trip consists of exploring the horizontal fissures in the "Cave of the Quills" area and a quick, 70-foot rafting trip across "Tom's Lake." The trip concludes with passages filled with "goo," more beautiful crystalline rooms, and then ascending ladders to sunshine and showers. Participants must be at least 16 years old, and minors must be accompanied by an adult. Trip time varies depending on the number of participants and ranges from 2-1/2 to a maximum of 4 hours.

Make Reservation
Land package: $150
Departing from Los Angeles, CA
Trip Includes
Calaveras State Park entrance fee, three nights of camping, happy hour on Thursday, all meals Friday and Saturday plus a late breakfast on Sunday. Optional California Cavern activities: $110 for Middle Earth Expedition or $15 for Trail of Lights Walk tour.
Have a Question?
Send an e-mail to the organizers.
John Corcoran
Main Coordinator
Assistant Coordinator
Ron Domash
Assistant Coordinator
Trent Nguyen
Assistant Coordinator
42 Participants
Claudina Lissette Soriano
David H
Dora (+1)
John Corcoran
Melissa G
Nancy M
Ron Domash
Susan (+1)
Trent Nguyen