Editor’s note: The following six ways to enjoy snow in Calaveras County are suggestions of the Calaveras Visitors Bureau.
Looking for new ways to enjoy family snow days? From adrenaline pumping adventures to gentle forays into a winter wonderland, Bear Valley and the snowy Calaveras County High Sierra corridor have got you covered. Read on for some of our favorite ways to enjoy the snow in and near Calaveras County along the Ebbetts Pass National Scenic Byway during your next snow day adventure.
1. Enjoy Snow in Calaveras County – Snowshoe
Looking to take in the sights and sounds of winter at a gentler pace? As the saying goes, if you can walk, you can snowshoe. Snowshoeing allows you to extend your hiking and jogging through the snowy season, with the addition of specialized snowshoes.
Not only are snowshoe adventures accessible to a wider audience, snowshoe adventures are also a great way to see winter wildlife. Moving at a gentle pace allows you to see a side of winter often missed by those zipping through the snow filled landscape.
From snowshoeing through giant sequoia groves at Calaveras Big Trees State Park, to exploring groomed trails in Bear Valley, to breaking trails among Stanislaus National Forest roads, each snowshoe location is situated within easy driving distance for visiting multiple destinations within the same day.
2. Enjoy Snow in Calaveras County – Fat Bike
Looking for something you’ve never done before? Why not hop on a fat bike this winter? What’s a fat bike, you say? A fat bike is an off-road bicycle with oversized tires designed for low ground pressure. This low ground pressure allows fat bikes to traverse soft, unstable terrain, such as snow. You can rent fat bikes at Bear Valley Cross Country and Adventure Company, or bring your own for your next Calaveras High Sierra adventure.
Fat bike trails in the Calaveras County High Sierra Corridor include the Arnold Rim Trail. No passes or fees required. The Arnold Rim Trail is a multi-use 17 mile network of hilly trails, weaving through National Forest land and residential territory, keep an eye out for the occasional giant sequoia along the section of trail closest to White Pines Lake.
Another option is the Bear Valley Adventure Company that not only provides gear rentals and but it is also a year-round mountain resort with one of the largest groomed fatbike areas in California. That’s right. With 35 trails for 40 miles (65 kilometers) of groomed track and skating lanes, you can enjoy a new adventure each winter weekend.
You can also use National Forest Service Roads. Stop by the Stanislaus National Forest Service Calaveras ranger station for detailed maps and parking instructions.
3. Enjoy Snow in Calaveras County – Ski and/or Snowboard
Bear Valley Resort offers a total of ten lifts and 75+ trails across 1680 ski-able acres and a 1900′ vertical drop. But that’s not all–25% of Bear Valley’s trails are beginner difficulty, 40% are intermediate and 35% are advanced or higher. This makes Bear Valley Resort the perfect place to bring friends or family members who are at different confidence levels and skill sets, so everyone can have a great time.
Bear Valley Resort offers ski lessons for adults and kids. For discounted lesson rates, book your lesson in advance. Looking to save even more? Rather than purchase gear before your lesson, try equipment rentals in Calaveras first to see what you like before you buy.
4. Enjoy Snow in Calaveras County – Snowmobile
Looking for an outdoor activity to enjoy with the whole family? Snowmobiling is loved by everyone from kids, to teens, to parents, and grandparents. Unlike a lot of other snow sports, snowmobiling can be enjoyed by everyone regardless of fitness level. So why not get those engines revving and head out into the great unknown? At Bear Valley Snowmobile, you can enjoy scenic views of Lake Alpine, Spicer Reservoir and many other points of interest along the beautifully groomed trails of Stanislaus National Forest.
Their snowmobiles are staged for you in the USFS Sno-Parks so there is no need to trailer or make unsafe crossings over Highway 4 from Bear Valley. Kids as young as two can ride their snowmobiles with the help of a five-point harness that attaches them to an adult. For your safety, they have a two snowmobile minimum per rental during your self-guided tour.
5. Enjoy Snow in Calaveras County – Sled and/or Tube
Calaveras Big Trees – While playing in the snow among the giant sequoias is a unique experience for the whole family, Calaveras Big Trees State Park offers slopes more suited to smaller sledders. The park entrance fee of $10 per vehicle will get you into the North Grove, and you are free to explore. The Visitor Center has restrooms and a fabulous selection of interpretive displays and cool Calaveras County gifts as well. Be sure to stop by the warming hut for a cozy fireside chat with their very informative docents.
California State Sno-Parks – Three of California’s 20 sno-parks are in the Highway 4 corridor. Sno-Parks are designated parking areas for winter recreation, maintained by the State and Forest Service and require a $5 day pass or $25 season pass for parking. There are three within four miles of Bear Valley: Spicer Sno-Park, Round Valley (on Highway 207 to the ski resort) and Lake Alpine, at the closure of Highway 4 just beyond the ski resort turn off. Lake Alpine Sno-Park is a sure bet for long, fast sledding runs that will appeal to those in your group who are seeking adrenaline fueled thrills. All Sno-Parks have non-flush toilets but no other facilities or concession stands so pack a cooler and hot chocolate thermos for your group.
6. Enjoy Snow in Calaveras County – Cross Country Ski
More energy efficient than long distance snowshoeing, cross country skiing is the perfect sport for a variety of interests, allowing you to enjoy quick forays into the woods for an afternoon outing or for those with a little more time available and a sense of adventure, you can venture so deep into a magical winter wilderness you may encounter regions more wild than known. Interested? You’ve come to the right place.
The Calaveras County High Sierra corridor is home to hundreds of miles of cross country fun. From groomed cross country trails at one of the largest cross country ski areas in California, to three local SNO-PARKS, and ungroomed trails accessed along Forest Service roads, there are enough cross country skiing trails to have a new adventure every winter weekend.