Calaveras Big Trees State Park

Calaveras County, California

map showing location of Big Trees State Park in Calaveras County, CA








Calaveras Big Trees State Park

Calaveras Big Trees State Park is 3 miles east of Arnold along Highway 4. The park is open year-round and collects an entrance fee of $10 per vehicle ($9 for seniors). The highlights of the park include

  • Two magnificent groves of ancient giant sequoia trees
  • Miles of great hiking trails through the groves and about the park
  • Two main campgrounds, groups campsites, and environmental campsites
  • Visitors center, interpretive program, ranger-led hikes, star gazing

Calaveras Big Trees State Park, CA

Upcoming Programs at Calaveras Big Trees State Park

For information about these and other coming events, see
Calaveras Big Trees Association.

Winter Days in the Park
December 29, 2017

Bring the family to the park for a fun-filled day. Activities include snowshoe tours, children's crafts, holiday singers, hot cocoa and cider in the Warming Hut, and roasting marshmallows. Park entrance fee is all that is needed to join in the fun.
11:00 AM - 3:00 PM
Winter Days in the Park

The Giant Sequoia Groves

trail through North Grove of Big Trees State Park, CA

The North Grove is adjacent to the parking lot and has easy access. The 1.5 mile tour of the grove is along a level, easy to walk trail. Among the highlights of the grove are the Big Stump, the Pioneer Cabin Tree, the Father of the Forest, and the Empire State Tree. The Empire State Tree measures 18 feet in diameter near its base. Giant Sequoias can live to be over 3,000 years old.

Guided Tours of the North Grove: 1:00 PM, 1.5 hours, information (209) 795-3840 or (209) 795-7980

Tall sequoia in North Grove of Big Trees State Park, CA

The South Grove is reached by driving 9 miles from the entrance gate down across the Stanislaus River and up to the parking area at the trailhead to the South Grove. The South Grove contains far more trees than the North Grove, but is less often visited because of its remoteness and more strenuous trail. The road to the South Grove is closed in the winter.

Loop trails through the grove are either 3.5 or 5 miles. Both routes begin with a moderate uphill climb. Hikers are rewarded with views of the park's largest tree, the Agassiz Tree, along with the Smith Cabin Tree, Old Goliath, and the Moody Group.

The Bradley Grove trail begins to the left of the South Grove Trail just beyond the Beaver Creek Bridge. The 2.5 mile loop contains some "outrigger" giant sequoias along with many younger trees planted in the 1950s. The Bradley Grove also has stands of sugar pines, mountain dogwood and white alder.

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Summer Ranger Programs

The park offers a number of programs during the summer. For updates and to confirms dates and times, call (209) 795-3840.

Big Stump in Big Trees State Park, CA
  • Junior Rangers 10:00 AM every day for children 7-12 years old. 1 hour, meet at Visitor Center.
  • Junior Cubs 10:00 AM every day for children 3-6 with an adult. 1 hour, meet at Visitor Center.
  • North Grove Guided Tours 1:00 PM every day. 1.5 - 2 hours, meet at Visitor Center.
  • Creek Critters 1:00 PM, Tuesdays. Meet at Beaver Creek Picnic Area
  • Children's Hour 7:00 PM Thursdays, 1 hour. For families with young children. Meet at Jack Knight Hall.
  • Campfire Programs 8:30 PM, Mondays, Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays. Campfire Center.

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Other Hiking Trails in the Park

Adventurous hikers will find a number of great trails to explore. Among the most challenging is the hike up from the Stanislaus River to the park center, a 3 mile thousand-foot climb. Easier hikes are listed here.

Trail in Big Trees State Park, CA

1. Dardanelles Overlook: You can drive to the overlook or make the one mile hike up from Oak Hollow Campground. It's about a 600-foot elevation gain.
2. Moran Road: This level, 1-mile hike takes you out the route used by emigrants and early wagons and stage coaches coming into the park from the east. Drive out the road toward the South Grove 1 mile and park along the dirt Moran Road. Hike out it to the east to the park boundary.
3. Lava Bluffs Trail: The trailhead is a parking area along the road to the South Grove, about 5 miles from the park entrance. A 2.5-mile round trip hike takes you out the loop trail that traverses the lava bluffs and affords great views of the Stanislaus River canyon below. Mild elevation changes.

Dogs are not allowed on the trails.

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Picnicking

Although you could stop and picnic almost anywhere you would like in the park, four areas have been designated as picnic sites and offer restrooms, picnic tables, and water.

Big Stump in Big Trees State Park, CA

Stanislaus River: On the north side of the Stanislaus River, 5.5 miles from the entrance station.
North Grove: Near the North Grove Campground and the Visitor Center.
Oak Leaf Spring: Along the South Grove road, about 6.5 miles from the entrance station.
Beaver Creek: Near the end of the South Grove road, about 9 miles from the entrance station.

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Camping

Calaveras Big Trees State Park has two main campgrounds along with two group campsites and a number of environmental campsites:

  • North Grove Campground: Close to the center of the park, 73 campsites for tents and RVs
  • Oak Hollow Campground: 4 miles from the park entrance, 55 sites
  • Group Campgrounds: Upper and Lower, up to 60 people at the larger site
  • Environmental Camps: 5 walk-in sites scattered around the park

For complete information about camping at Big Trees State Park, see
Big Trees State Park Campgrounds.


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Winter in Big Trees State Park

Even with several feet of snow on the ground, Calaveras Big Trees State Park remains open in the winter. Visitors enjoy snowshoeing through the North Grove and cross country skiing along marked Nordic trails. Snowmobiles are not permitted in the park. Campgrounds close during the winter months, and the road to the South Grove is closed in the winter.

Nordic ski sign in Big Trees State Park, CA

Cross Country Skiing and Snowshoeing Routes: The park has two winter trails, the 1.5-mile North Grove Ski Trail and the 3.5-mile Parkway Loop Ski Trail. The Parkway trail is marked with orange signs. A warming hut staffed by volunteers is often available at the main parking area.
Calaveras Big Trees State Park Winter Trails Map (sorry, this map is temporarily unavailable from Calaveras Big Trees State Park.)

Winter Camping: Campgrounds are closed from December through February. On March 1 the park opens 12 campsites. Restrooms open May 1.

For complete information about camping at Big Trees State Park, see
Big Trees State Park Campgrounds.


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map of Calaveras Big Trees State Park