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Summer calling: Calaveras on water, in air or underground
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With the warmer weather finally moving in, adventure enthusiasts are finally getting out. In Calaveras County, adrenaline junkies include spelunking in chambers tall enough to hide the Statue of Liberty and ripping through Class IV white water rapids on the North Fork of the Stanislaus River.

While the extreme is available in this foothills oasis, the majority of recreational visitors find paradise along trails among giant, 300-foot Sequoias. Calaveras Big Trees State Park and the Stanislaus National Forest are recreational Meccas. The county also offers over 150,000 acres of public land, and the Carson-Iceberg and Mokelumne Wilderness have 150 miles of trails that traverse varied terrain.

Outdoor water recreation is abundant with nine public access lakes throughout Calaveras County and two major rivers, the Mokelumne on the northern border and the Stanislaus on the southern border, plus numerous streams. There’s lazing on the river, or fishing for bass in low mountain lakes and streams. Kayaks and canoes can provide a smooth, quiet ride, or kick it up a notch by jumping on a Jet Ski, or fly behind a ski boat on a wakeboard and water skis. For a real rush, take a white water rafting trip down the Stanislaus or Mokelumne River with O.A.R.S. The area is rushing with water activities.

For those outdoor adventurers enthused by what’s literally underfoot, the direction is down! Moaning Cavern contains the largest vertical chamber in a public cavern in California. A 45-minute guided walking tour descends 234 stairs to a depth of 165 feet. For a more direct route, try rappelling. How’s the memory from that high school class: were those stalactites or stalagmites?

For a visit to Middle Earth, there’s also California Cavern, where a five-hour expedition includes an underground 70-foot rafting trip across Tom's Lake. Another area cave to explore is Mercer Caverns for an entertaining guided walking tour.