New Melones Lake activities for fall 2017

Media Contact: Erin Curtis, 916-978-5100, 10/13/2017 15:32

For Release: October 13, 2017

SONORA, Calif. – The Bureau of Reclamation’s Central California Area Office announces its 2017 fall activity schedule for New Melones Lake, located in Calaveras and Tuolumne counties. Programs are free of charge, suitable for all ages, and do not require reservations. Children under the age of 18 must be accompanied by an adult.

Paddling Excursion
Sunday, Oct. 15, 10 a.m.
New Melones Lake Visitor Center
Experience the beauty of New Melones Lake from a unique perspective on this ranger-led paddling tour. The journey begins at the Mark Twain Recreation Area and then proceeds up the Stanislaus River Canyon toward Parrotts Ferry. Along the way, park rangers will discuss the flora, fauna, geological formations, and cultural history of the area. This outing is open to experienced swimmers with their own kayak or other nonmotorized boat. Expect to be out for approximately four hours. Participants need to bring: a boat, U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jacket (properly fitted and serviceable), paddles, sunscreen, hat, water and lunch. Space is limited and pre-registration is required. Please contact Park Ranger Josh at 209-536-9094 ext. 236 to reserve your place at this event.

All Aboard! A Journey on the Angel’s Branch of the Sierra Railway
Part I – Tuolumne County side of New Melones Lake
Saturday, Oct. 21, 10 a.m.
New Melones Lake Visitor Center
In 1897, Sierra Railroad was chartered to build a rail line from Oakdale to Angels Camp. The railroad reached Jamestown in late 1897 but did not get completed to Angels Camp until September 1902. Join us on part one of our excursion along the Sierra Railway to learn why it took so long, walk over some of the Right of Way, explore how they engineered this “impossible” rail line, and hear about the tragedy that struck on this section of the railway in 1904.

Things That Go Bump in the Night!
Saturday, Oct. 28, 6 p.m.
Tuttletown Recreation Area
Heron Point Day Use Area
Halloween is almost here, a time to discover “things that go bump in the night.” Join Park Ranger Mike for a journey along the Heron Point Trail to discover the nocturnal world around New Melones Lake. Children of all ages are welcome. We will meet at the Tuttletown Recreation Area Entrance Station at 6:00 p.m. and then caravan to the Heron Point Day Use Area. The hike will be roughly 1-mile roundtrip. Participants should wear appropriate clothing for the weather as things might be a bit “chilling,” and a flashlight is required. Participants will be issued a free parking pass for the duration of the event.

If These Rocks Could Talk
Saturday, Nov. 4, 10 a.m.
Natural Bridges parking area
The Mother Lode’s geology is a source of fascination. One of the more curious geological features of the area is Natural Bridges. Take a hike with Park Ranger Josh and learn how water and time has shaped the landscape. Along the trail, learn a bit about the local flora and fauna. This is a moderate to strenuous 2-mile roundtrip hike. Participants should bring: water, snacks and shoes appropriate for hiking. We will meet at the Natural Bridges Trailhead parking lot off Parrotts Ferry Road at 10 a.m. Dogs are not allowed on the Natural Bridges trail.

All Aboard! A Journey on the Angel’s Branch of the Sierra Railway
Part II – Calaveras County side of New Melones Lake
Saturday, Nov. 18, 10 a.m.
Overlook on Hwy 49, north side of the Stevenot Bridge
After crossing the Stanislaus River, the railroad faced a seemingly impossible challenge of climbing out of the Stanislaus River Canyon. The rugged terrain prompted early railroaders to name a section of this precipitous stretch of rail line “Gee Wiz Point.” Come and explore part two of our journey along the Sierra Railway as we walk along the old railroad Right of Way to this point and learn about the “dynamite train” tragedy of 1906. Also learn how the railroad continued to serve the area until 1935, when this branch was abandoned and the rails were removed.

Giving Thanks to Nature
Saturday, Nov. 25, 10 a.m.
Glory Hole Recreation Area
Buck Brush Day Use Area
Work off some of those extra Thanksgiving calories with a hike on the Angels Creek Trail in the Glory Hole Recreation Area. Join Park Ranger Pat and discover what nature offers during the fall season at New Melones Lake on this moderate 2.5-mile roundtrip hike. We will meet at the Glory Hole Entrance Station at 10 a.m. and then caravan down to the Angel Creek trailhead. Please bring water, a jacket and sturdy footwear. Participants will be issued a free parking pass for the duration of the event.

Snakes Alive!
Saturday, Dec. 2, 6 p.m.
New Melones Lake Visitor Center
Winter is fast approaching. Many critters that call New Melones home hibernate during this time of the year, including snakes. Be prepared for the spring and gain an appreciation of those misunderstood denizens of the Mother Lode. Join Park Ranger Mike for a slide show on all things that slither. At the same time, meet our Visitor Center snake before he slumbers away for the winter.

Geminids Meteor Shower
Wednesday, Dec. 13, 6 p.m.
Tuttletown Recreation Area
Eagle Point Picnic Area
The Geminids has been referred to as the “King of Meteor Showers,” producing up to 120 multicolored meteors per hour at its peak. The peak this year is the night of Dec. 13. Join Park Ranger Diana for the best show in the heavens. Meteors will radiate from the constellation Gemini, but can appear anywhere in the sky. Telescopes will be on hand for viewing. For additional information, please contact Park Ranger Diana Popkins at 209-536-9094 ext. 218 or

New Year’s Day Hike
Monday, Jan. 1, 10 a.m.
Parrotts Ferry Bridge
Welcome in 2018 with an energetic hike along a section of Table Mountain. The trail travels through California’s distinctive chaparral plant community, a sun-drenched ecosystem perfect to explore on a winter’s day. Along the way, catch a glimpse of history by viewing what remains of the Duchess Gold Mine. Join Park Ranger Sam for this strenuous 3.5-mile loop hike. Please bring plenty of water, a jacket and sturdy hiking boots. We will meet at the parking lot on the Calaveras County side of the Parrotts Ferry Bridge at 10 a.m. Please call 209-536-9094 ext. 233 if additional directions are needed.

School Programs
Available Upon Request

Water is Life! Schools are invited to join a park ranger and visit New Melones Lake to learn about water and other life-sustaining natural resources. Through interactive lessons and activities, students will gain a firsthand appreciation of local ecosystems. In addition to the on-site learning at the lake, park rangers are available to conduct classroom visits. For more details on free, school programs, please contact Park Ranger Mike McGraw at 209-536-9094 ext. 233 or

If you would like to participate in a program, need accommodation, or have any questions please contact Park Ranger Mike McGraw at 209-536-9094, ext. 233, or email

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