Explore the most popular backpacking trails in Stanislaus National Forest with hand-curated trail maps and driving directions as well as detailed reviews and photos from hikers, campers and nature lovers like you.

Was definitely a great trail to run! Pretty challenging with all the rocks to climb and hop over. the bridge you have to cross over a waterfall was a bit spooky but totally worth the views!

Nice and easy trail but heavily trafficked. Have to constantly move out of the way for oncoming hikers or people behind you. Some people almost take pets out and doesn’t clean up after them. Either than that the trail is beautiful and worth it if you have the patience.

Easy hiking with a well maintained trail and easy to find markers. The main water inlet is absolutely amazing, plenty of great spots along the way to take pictures, pinecrest can get overwhelmed with guests so we like to do our adventuring as early as possible.

backpacking
1 month ago

The Dece Scouts headed to Preston Falls for an early season backpacking trip. The weather was supposed to be horrible. We started the hike in the rain, walking along the very high and flowing river. The rain died down after an hour or so, and by the evening it was clear skies. Lots of trees down on the trail, and parts were flooded, but all in all, a great hike.

Nice hike, great views and the snow on the ground made for great pics! animal tracks in the snow indicate a bear or mountain lion were present beyond the water tanks. I would never do this hike during tourist season but February 2018 was a perfect time!

Loved the view . It’s a great little hike :)

Great hike with good views! Not hard but has a bit of it all on this loop!

It’s a beautiful trail, my first and only time there was during winter time. The shore was covered with snow, not a soul around and the water eerily calm. With proper footwear and clothing trail was doable and I managed to do about 1/2 of it until I started to freeze. Looking forward to spring and summer, looks like a fantastic place to go swimming.

hiking
4 months ago

A fantastic day hike on a very mild Jan 2. Beautiful river with pools and rapids. We were the only two people on the trail. We didn’t start until noon so only got to large pool and falls about 3.5 miles in and came out to finish by dark. Will definitely come again to have more time.

Beautiful hike around a high mountain lake.

backpacking
5 months ago

Backpacked out to the falls with the dog weekend of 12/16 -12/17: his first backpacking overnight and this was a nice introduction on a pretty gentle trail. Trail was mostly clear, but especially in the last mile the path was covered in downed trees, branches and debris from a previous fire. Pup is about 20 pounds so I had to carry him for a lot of this final stretch as it was such a mess.

It was very quiet-- one other truck when I arrived but otherwise not a single person on the trail the whole 24 hours. Beautiful hike, and the waterfall at the end makes for a beautiful rest at the end. No snow or ice yet, just some frost in the shadowed areas of the canyon.

I put the coordinates from alltrails in Google Maps and it took me most of the way there: it ended on the switchback road down to the canyon. At the bottom of the switchbacks, turn right and drive past the dam and water plant all the way to the end (it looks like it might lead to a back lot for the plant at one point) and you'll get to the large trailhead parking lot.

backpacking
5 months ago

We had a great time backpacking here the weekend of December 2nd 2017. This time of year it is hard to find a sutible place to go backpacking with my wife and 6 year old son. I was drawn to this place for it's low elevation, paved road access and close proximity to my home in the bay area. We were rewarded with a beautiful hike. We found a really nice camp spot about halfway. I really wanted to push on to the falls but my son was getting tired and the sun was soon to set. The natural beauty was abundant. This is a hidden gem that has been cast in the shadow of and often overlooked by Yosemite's grandeur.

This trail is relatively easy, however it is extremely rocky so small children should have a carrier, their are high cliffs and boulders that can be dangerous it is not a leisurely stroll. So bring water and sun screen pack a lunch and enjoy the amazing sceneries.

We went out for backpacking and fishing for 2 nights, 3 days. Fun trail, seen some wildlife. Beautiful views and lakes. Not too successful with the fish tho. lol

Took about two and half hours. Wear good shoes. Not all areas are flat. Nice view of the lake.

A little tight in some spots but fun

hiking
7 months ago

The intent was to climb up the Pct from the Sonora pass summit on the road. Without knowing for a bit our tail wasn't the Pct but one that goes up a steeper more direct route route. I was struggling and very happy when we made it where it connected to the PCT. We got up to the saddle on the ridge line and turned left at the junction and headed up towards the peak. With some patches of snow the trial was hard to see, but it was pretty clear to just follow the ridge line. The wind was blowing, and was a fair bit cold when we summited. Beautiful views and we'll worth the effort.

We came back down Saint Mary Pass, and again lost the trail. I thought I was better at navigation than this. No big worry, we eventually found our way back. In the meantime I felt blessed to able to see and briefly be a part of such beautiful country.

backpacking
7 months ago

Great hike, just backpacked it Sept. 29 - october 1st, fun hike for all levels of hiking experience

7 months ago

Hike the trail all the time got some great views. I go back almost every year

backpacking
8 months ago

Stunning ridge line views. The best section of the PCT I've ever hiked. If you want to know the best day hike on the PCT, this is it!

backpacking
8 months ago

south trail has larger and more creek crossings than north trail

The trail from Union reservoir to rock lake is a fairly easy hike. Not much of an elevation gain and it starts out in shady, wooded terrain. The trip to Elephant Lake and rock is the most pleasant part of the trip. As you circle around Elephant Rock you enter a burned out forest with lots of under growth and many downed trees. It is wide open space with no remarkable views; sunny and desolate. The trail is littered with downed trees that must be climbed over or circumvented. Rock lake is small and will one day be a meadow. It is not a destination lake - it is more of a lake you would notice while you were on the way to another, more beautiful location. The lake shore has many, many downed trees. There is no easy access to the shoreline (too filled with downed trees and muddy), which made getting drinking water difficult. The lake bottom is silty which makes wading/swimming a dirty affair. It is not a welcoming lake for swimming. We cut our stay here short, cut our losses and moved on to find other prettier and welcoming destinations. We will not be going back to Rock Lake.

backpacking
8 months ago

hiking
8 months ago

Great hike! While there are moments where the trail is faint, it was very easy to follow. Gorgeous vistas, lovely wild flowers right now, and the odd patch of snow. Nice amounts of streams with at least a little water for our black dog when she got hot. Even with a couple rain/storm bursts, it was well worth all the uphill (and downhill). Lake was a lovely destination, a little marshy around the edges closest to where the trail meets the lake. Thinking about a future backpacking trip to spend a weekend on the lake and exploring some more.

Really easy and flat trail. If you get too hot you can jump right into the lake from the trail. Most of the trail hugs the lake

Lost my camera between Wood lake and Pine Valley trail head message me if you found it jennmurphy@sbcglobal.net

backpacking
8 months ago

Beautiful hike. Took our first family backpacking trip here from a Sunday-Tuesday. The kids (15, 13, and almost 7 years) and my husband did great- although 6 y/o didn't carry his pack the whole way. :) A nice mix of uphill/downhill both ways, although a little more uphill on way in. Moderate seems about the right rating. FYI- There is a 1-night camping restriction at Camp Lake and Bear Lake... and not really good water sources to camp anywhere between the two lakes. Lots of great campsites at Bear Lake with fire pits. We only saw 2 other parties camping- felt like we had the place to ourselves. We had a great time jumping off rocks into Bear Lake on Monday. A little weather- rain, thunder and lightning on the hike in, thunder and lightning on Monday afternoon but the storm blew over us. A friend told me the mosquitos would be bad but we had no problems at all (a few- no need for bug spray even!). Also, the Mi-Wuk ranger station is closed except for Fridays now, so you have to get your wilderness pass at the Summit Ranger station. Large parking lot with pit toilets at the Crabtree trailhead.

mad I didn't record it. had a blast would love to do it again.

Gorgeous views, lovely lake, very lovely springy forest path for a while, has clearly been affected by heavy snow this past winter so lost the trail twice but was able to find it again looking at the topo

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