Explore the most popular camping 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.

Did this as an overnight backpacking trip with 8 in mid September 2017. Perfect hike for some first time backpackers that were on the trip. The trail is well marked and there are plenty of scenic spots to stop. We started around noon and made it to camp leisurely far before sunset. The southeast side of Bear Lake was pretty crowded since we started late. We continued clockwise off trail to the northeast side of the lake and were able to find a nice, secluded spot to camp.

Spent the Friday night before an Pinecrest campground, a great campground 30-40min drive from the trailhead.

backpacking
10 days ago

Beautiful trail, especially after you pass the the water flow area following the first climb out. There were surprises every turn. Lots of wild flowers blooming everywhere.

Scenic “stroll” trail around the lake. Multiple areas with no coverage so wear a hat. Trail is mostly flat with the exception of a few spots. Bring your fishing poles to hike to the inlet at the far side of the lake! If you’d like a more strenuous trail, take the route to Cleo’s Bath.

Cute cows chilling near duck lake. Thank you! to the astute hikers who blazed the trail with stacked rocks for the latter part of duck lake as the trail was a bit tricky to discern at times. Also appreciated the logs to cross the creek from the meadow back into the woods.

Beautiful hike. Rocky narrow trail. I would suggest to start at the marina side and travel clockwise because it is goes through rock areas that tend to get hot and the beach side has shade and is cool.

easy trail to bear lake, great trip for dogs! Campsites were pretty filled up by saturday, so i’d suggest leaving early friday morning.

Great rugged easy to intermediate river trail. Easy to find your own private beach by the water. Also great for wildflowers, birding, camping, backpacking, and bouldering.

backpacking
29 days ago

Beautiful hike out to Wheeler Lake this weekend. The trail gets lost under a snow at the ridge, but after that it's pretty clear and navigable down to Wheeler Lake, though streams run down it pretty frequently as the snow melts. I lost the trail on my way out thinking I had to stay on the ridge longer, but you really just crest it, wrap around the Mokelumne-side of a small hill, and descend. Lake was beautiful and quiet, and the pup loved the hike too. Plenty of water from streams the whole trek.

Just went this past weekend with my 9 year old. We had a great time and would definitely come back again. Day 1: Crabtree TH to Bear Lake, Day 2: Bear Lake to Granite Lake, Day 3: Granite Lack back down to Crabtree TH

Took my 3 pre teens on this hike from Thursday to Saturday. We stayed at the mostly empty campground at trailhead on Thursday night. I recommend filling your bottles up at the bridge, cuz there aren’t any clean water sources after it. It’s 3.5 miles of predominantly uphill, and I could tell that was all the kids could do. Bear
Lake is loaded with fish, and my boys had fun casting lures. Dry wood is limited at Bear Lake, so you got to hike for it. I recommend avoiding the weekend, since there were tons of people heading in, when we were heading out. A great hike that we will surely do again in a few years.

Beautiful hike. We did it on a Sunday and most folks were backpackers heading back to their cars. It was very hot on the way back.

backpacking
1 month ago

I returned to this trail on 5/11-5/12, during that time it was cold and very windy we only made it to Camp Lake, i still love this trail seeing as it is only about an hour and 30 from my house.

hiking
1 month ago

Great out and back trail. It was pretty warm when my husband and I did this and we definitely should have taken more water. After the first couple miles there’s not much shade! We took a couple dips in the water to cool down and it was amazing. Make sure you have a hat and bring enough water! :)

Just did a day hike to bear lake with my 70 year father. It is a relatively easy trail with some elevation gains. We reached the lake in about 1.5 hours. We are planning on doing some longer over night hikes on Crabtree.

We hiked around the lake on Memorial Day with our kids (ages 7, 5, 3 and the 1-year-old was on our backs). Our 7 and 5 year-olds hiked the whole loop with no problems. It was not only a scenic trail, but the trail itself was a lot of fun to walk on.

Amazing place. Camped at Camp lake Friday night (rolling fog, mostly wet) and then went on to Bear Lake. There are more to see to this wilderness and can’t wait to explore more.

Day hiked from Crabtree Trailhead to Bear Lake and back on Memorial Day. Not surprisingly, there were lots of people on the trail the whole way. Great hike though. Unlike what a previous poster said, there were no mosquitoes. Not a single one. Trail was a bit muddy and mushy in places but not bad, and none of the small stream crossings were difficult.

backpacking
1 month ago

Awesome trail! Went for an overnight backpacking trip a week ago. Towards Bear Lake the trail was covered with the fallen trees and melted snow from winter and was a little bit hard to follow but wasn’t hard to maneuver around it. Some elevation gain but not difficult. Beautiful views along the trail, and a small river along most of the hike. There are a lot of good spots to camp along the lake with some fire pits. We had some hail and rain for a few hours once we set up camp but it passed through. Definitely a great overnight spot to camp!

backpacking
1 month ago

Bring lots of insect repellant, the mosquitoes are ruthless and have carried off small pets

on Preston Falls Trail

hiking
1 month ago

This is one other amazing trail to hike. You hike along the bank of the vibrant river and its very refreshing.I had been on a mid spring sunny day when the weather was around 70F. I had started to hike by 1030 hrs and found it highly draining and had got dehydrated by the time i got back, may be I am used to hiking a lot during fall and winter and had still not acclimatized to the spring weather. My suggestion is to hike during dusk or dawn so that you will to get enjoy the hike thoroughly. It took 0430 hrs for me to hike this 8.9 mile hike.
Note on the travel direction: after you cross the vehicle bridge in the cherry lake road while driving from Highway 120, please turn to the right towards the cottages. There is no sign board directing to the trail head and mostly you will tend to get lost. from there it is just a 3/4 mile to the trail head and it is called as Stanislaus National Forest Trail Head.

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
3 months 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
5 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.

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