There are many different places to go rockhounding in Calaveras County, California.
This article will provide information on ten of the best locations to go hunting for rocks, crystals, and fossils.
Each location has its own unique features and offers something different for rockhounds.
So whether you are a beginner or an experienced collector, there is sure to be a spot on this list that is perfect for you.
Rockhounding Calaveras County, California
The information provided in this article by YesDirt.com is for informational purposes and is subject to change. Laws are updated. Accessibility guidelines and restrictions change. Be sure to confirm the land status and collection rules before you travel to an unfamiliar location or collect any material.
Bear Valley is considered a rockhounds paradise with ample opportunities to hike and search for precious rocks and gems.
Bear Valley is a truly versatile location, as it has hiking trails through the mountain forest and skiing during the winter months.
Some of the most popular trails for rockhounding are Bloods Ridge and Inspiration Point, while longer, more extensive hikes are found on Wheeler Lake and Bull Run Lake.
Be sure to purchase all of your admission tickets prior to arriving at the location and bring enough water for each member during your hike.
Located in Mokelumne Hill, the Mokelumne River is another excellent spot for rockhounding in Calaveras County.
This location is especially well-known for its agates.
In addition to agates, the Mokelumne River is also a good place to look for quartz, jasper, and petrified wood.
There is no fee to park at the Mokelumne River Day Use Area, as it provides access to both the river and local fish hatchery.
The river area is just 15 miles from Highway 12, making it an easy location to access for those in Calaveras County.
The Stanislaus River is a top rockhounding location in Calaveras County, as it boasts nearly 65 miles of waterway and shoreline to search for gems.
The river flows from Sierra Nevada Foothills to the San Joaquin River and is known to have jasper, sandstone, moonstone, and agates throughout the area.
One popular spot at the river to search for rocks is near the historic 330 foot long covered bridge that has been part of the river since 1863.
Rockhounds can also travel to the higher elevation areas along the river for different types of plant and mammal fossils.
Arnold Rim Trail
Located in nearby Arnold, California, Arnold Rim Trail is a great family-friendly location for rockhounding and connects numerous nearby cities with an extensive trail system.
The terrain throughout the area varies from flatlands to mid-elevation, with overlook spots, streams, and a waterfall.
Many rockhounds find gems, agates, and even gold along the water’s edge and especially at the hidden waterfall.
There is ample parking available at this location and nearly four miles of trail for rockhounds to search.
North Table Mountain Ecological Reserve
Located just a short drive from Calavera County, the North Table Mountain Ecological Reserve is a prime location for rockhounding and enjoying the beautiful outdoors.
The reserve has over 3,000 acres to explore and features waterfalls, lava outcrops, and a rare type of vernal pool.
Rockhounds interested in volcanic materials should check out this spot, though it is the furthest from Calaveras County on the list.
Be sure to wear closed-toed shoes when walking through the reserve and respect the different wildlife in the area.
River of Skulls Trail
Another great family-friendly rockhounding location near Calavera County is the River of Skulls Trail in Valley Springs.
This hike is suitable for nearly all experience levels and is just under one mile in total length.
You can expect to find the standard rocks and gems in the area like quartzite, jasper, and serpentine.
While facilities are limited at this location, there is a restroom in the parking lot for visitors to use.
It is open year-round and known to be one of the quietest and most isolated trails in the area.
San Andreas Lake Trail
Rockhounds looking for moderate hiking terrain should consider visiting the San Andreas Lake Trail located in nearby San Andreas.
The location has over 7 miles of trails for rockhounds to search for rocks, gems, and fossils.
The area is open year-round and is free for visitors to park and explore the trail.
It’s important to note that the trail can become extremely muddy during some months, so be sure to bring adequate footwear and clothing for your journey.
Black Chasm Cavern National Natural Landmark
Located on Pioneer Volcano Road in the small town of Volcano, the Black Chasm Cavern National Natural Landmark is a well-known landmark with a display of rare helictite formations.
If rockhounds choose to take the guided tour, they will descend nearly 100 feet below the earth’s surface into the cave to explore these ancient geologic wonders.
While searching the area, guests should look out for volcanic materials and hidden gems.
Rockhounds who choose to take the tour should not bring any food or water into the cave.
Top of the World
Just a short drive away in Laguna Beach, the Top of the World trail is a 2.5-mile hike that is for those with moderate experience levels.
There is free parking and admittance to the trail, though the main parking lot is known to fill up quickly on certain days.
There is a second parking lot off of Alta Laguna Boulevard for those who want to skip the hike and just search for rocks along with the incredible views.
It’s important to note that this trail may shut down during periods of heavy rain and mud, so be sure to check the official site before heading out.
Black Creek Park
Another family-friendly location for rockhounding is Black Creek Park in Copperopolis, California.
Located in the Sierra foothills in one of California’s oldest copper mining towns, this park features space for searching the landscape, along with basketball courts, picnic tables, and restroom facilities.
There is even an area to ride horses for those who want to bring their animals along for a rockhounding journey.
Please note there is limited internet and cellphone service in the area, so have directions on hand if you have trouble finding the location.
Rocks, minerals, and fossils are plentiful in Calaveras County.
Whether you’re looking for gold or something more unique like quartz, jasper, or agates, these 10 places to rockhound should have what you need.
To help make your search easier, we’ve included information on the types of rocks found at each location as well as any special details to keep in mind when planning your visit.
California Rockhounding Resources
If you like to have a physical book in hand (like when there’s no cell service), here’s a few popular options:
Rockhounding California: A Guide To The State’s Best Rockhounding Sites
Gem Trails of Southern California
Gem Trails of Northern California
Smithsonian Rocks and Minerals Identification Guide
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The desert and mountain region is one of the best places to rockhounding.
We have a trip to go rockhounding near Sacramento planned soon, we’ll let you know how it goes!
Let’s start digging!
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