Crabtree Trail is a 8.7 mile moderately trafficked out and back trail located near Pinecrest, California that features a lake and is rated as moderate. The trail is primarily used for hiking and backpacking and is accessible from September until September. Dogs are also able to use this trail.
Wonderful hike. I loved the rolling granite hills. Lots of sun exposure but there were trees all around; the lakes were great respites. What I liked most was that you could just keep going and connect through to other routes. The trail is fairly obvious but there weren't many markers. The most ambiguous area is between Camp and Bear Lakes where the sandy trail criss-crosses with a stream. It's hard to tell what is the stream bank and what is the trail (I'd say to follow your gut, the stream leads the way).
I love this trail! One my all time favorites. Camp lake is breathtakingly beautifully!
I've hiked out of the Crabtree Trailhead a few times, typically following the Crabtree trail east to Gem, Jewelry and Deer lakes and crossing down to a parallel trail to the south (trailhead at the Pine Valley horse camp) for the return trip, usually camping at Grouse Lake the last night before hiking out. I don't recommend the reverse journey, as there is a pretty long ascent from Grouse lake to the upper Lakes without many water sources.
Deer lake is absolutely stunning.
Mosquitoes can be pretty gnarly early in the summer, though they typically fall off pretty dramatically late in the season.
Also, if taking the lower trail back out to Crabtree (heading west), the "official" trail back has you climb 500ft in less than a mile - there is a much easier (though slightly longer) way back if you keep heading towards the Pine Valley horse hamp.
I and my hiking partner hiked from the Crabtree Trailhead to Camp Lake last Saturday afternoon. (NOTE: This is NOT the route that the original backpackers took.) I logged the hike with another app that is not compatible with AllTrails. So, here is my written report.
The distance from the Crabtree Trailhead sign, at the parking area, to the near edge of Camp Lake logged in as 2.42 miles (one way) and took us 57 minutes. There was an appreciable elevation gain of 573 feet, starting from about 7200 feet. The second climb, starting at just less than a mile from the trailhead, was fairly long and made me puff. It's about a half-mile incline here. Once you are up on the top the elevation changes were small in comparison, with the last climb getting you up to Camp Lake. It's a fairly small lake but very nice to rest at. We had considered continuing on to the larger Bear Lake (about a mile further) but chose to just stay and enjoy the day. The flowers were out, the breeze was wafting, and all was well.
The trail was kept in fairly good shape, and was mostly shaded. Horses also use this much hiked trail, so be observant.
Nine men ranges mid 30's to late 40's hiked this trail. Eight out of nine were first timers. The trail research lead us to believe it would be a moderate hike. Some spots are on the way out to Camp Lake and Bear Lake. Everything after Bear Lake up to Gem can get a little more difficult for first times at different physicality levels. Still, very doable. Five of us continued to Gem after taking in the beauty of the prior three lakes. We camped at mosquito infested Gem one night. Great camp site on Granite. Not many other campers. Mosquitoes are no joke there however so take more repellent than you would normally carry. Two passing hikers headed home generous to give us their remaining repellant to make it through our 4 day adventure. Fishing at Gem sucked. No bites out of 5 poles. Next day, two guys headed to Dear Lake and Three headed back to Camp Lake to meet up w/the remaining four guys. Dear lake was reported beautiful and the guys killed it fishing (go figure). It's true, saw the pic's of many fish. They also got a photo op of a large Black Bear headed away from them. Quite a few badgers near the trail were no bother either but cool to see. Few fish were caught at Bear and Camp lake but a great trip over all, key points, mosquitos, pack light, and don't count on catching just fishing. The rocky areas 20-30 yards from camp lake have great camp spots w less mosquitos and outstanding views. Bear Lake is probably the best option for large groups bug can be a little crowded. Bear Lake is the better for stream fishing and swimming.
I did this loop solo, setting out early from Crabtree Trailhead. Note that there's a campsite at the trailhead, making it easy to reach the trailhead Friday night and start hiking early on Saturday morning. Being alone, I powered through the milage on both days in about 3/4 hours. Lots of exposure (specifically hiking on flat, slabby rock for much of both days), and lots of picturesque mountain lakes. I camped at Long Lake for the night; had it all to myself. It was quiet, a bit breezy, and the lake itself was serene.
A buddy and I backpacked this area on Memorial Day weekend 2014. We started at the Crabtree trailhead and headed in going down into the valley and crossing cherry creek (tricky this time of year). We were able to cross it without wading but it was like a maze trying to find a dry route to hop over all the fingers of the stream.
We found a slight trail that led up to gem lake which was pretty packed with people and seemed to have a good amount of fish as well. We hiked down out of gem to the other parallel trail and had to wade cherry creek that time. We bushwhacked up piute creek for a ways then headed up the slabs to granite lake. Packing into this area will definitely get your heart pumping, but if you want solitude, you'll get it. There were no others at granite (8600 ft) and half of the lake shore was snow despite the nice temperatures.
Overall it is a beautiful area and reminded me of Yosemite. I'm sure it would be less busy the farther you go in from the trailhead.
P.s. Bring strong mosquito repellant!