Explore the most popular nature trips 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.

Some parts are difficult to navigate. Lowest angle terrain is your friend. Plan to spend a day or two at the lake. There is a scenic moderate trail around the lake which is about the same difficulty.

hiking
7 days ago

Got a late start (as usual!) today so wasn't sure if I would get back before dark and my RV was parked in the day use area. It probably wouldn't have been an issue but I pushed hard and made it back at twilight without any problem. I went up on the left side of the lake and missed the turnoff to the peak at first but checked the app and saw my mistake so went back. I lost the trail shortly after that as well, it turned left and I missed it and ended up on a rocky ridge. After that I didn't have any problem except never did find out for sure where the actual high point on the summit was. I jogged back most of the way back down except for the real rocky places and returned on the same side of the lake. I saw a couple before the dam but no one else the rest of the hike. I was amazed that some mountain bikers have been riding down the upper part of the trail. They really seemed to like the rock jumps! A good hard workout with lots of elevation gain.

My boyfriend and I hiked this trail in early Oct 2018. For fitness context, I am a mid twenty year old who goes to the gym 2-3 days a week and is active during my job and my boyfriend is in his early 30's and goes to the gym 4 days a week. We found this trail really great and got a nice workout in without feeling spent or crazy sore by the end. As people have mentioned, the bouldering is the main challenging part of this hike, but it's pretty short and surprisingly easy. For example, several dogs were able to do it. It took us from around 1:00-5:00 for the whole hike, but we stopped and explored the area around Cleo's Bath a bit. Also, the trail isn't incredibly well marked once you leave the pinecrest lake loop, so watch for the blue areas and stay with your group! We picked up a lost hiker on the way back to the lake so it definitely can happen. there was no place to get portable water along the trail but there was a flowing river so bring water or a filter. The only bathrooms were at the beginning of the trail.
Overall, a very beautiful hike for a wide variety of fitness levels.

12 days ago

Beautiful October hike

hiking
12 days ago

October 7, 2018, first dusting of snow last week. Clear and sunny but 40 mph north east gusts at the summit. Trail off of the PCT isn’t hard to find, follows the Ridgeline. Pretty much all uphill. Incredible hike, Snow on the mountains adds a lot.

hiking
13 days ago

A nice hike from Cedar Center, also went up to the lookout and bushwhacked anong the ridge to the ART, and then went to Cougar Rock and back to Cedar Center for a total of 12.5 miles and almost 3,000 feet of elevation gain.

backpacking
18 days ago

Beautiful trail, just the right mix of semi-difficult hiking and easy paths. My 7 year old and two year old both made it all the way around. (Although the 2 year old had to be carried for about half the way). You’re walking around the lake, so there’s always a fantastic view of the water. Would defiantly take this hike again!

hiking
19 days ago

It’s easy to lose the trail just after you hit St Mary’s pass and around where you connect up w the PCT. Also, the final mile back to the trailhead is basically just walking along 108. Epic views all around and VERY windy at the top.

backpacking
19 days ago

Gorgeous views, lots of campsites at Bear Lake, good amount of shade, and trail was clearly marked. Took a couple of newbies and everyone had a great time.

hiking
29 days ago

This is an absolutely beautiful hike! It's correctly listed as "moderate" because there are a lot of elevation changes (small, but strenuous), sections where you are hiking on boulders (but the trail is also mostly dirt/pine needles), and several narrow spots. I recommend a hat, hiking pole, sturdy shoes, and plenty of water. Why anyone would bring a child in this hike is beyond me. The best time to go is after the summer rush before it gets too chilly. Enjoy!

off road driving
1 month ago

A group of us drove this trail yesterday and it was pretty awesome. The new reroute had one really tough hill that takes some work to get down. Rock rails are a must have item and I would suggest having a minimum of 33" tires. If you're in a JKU then you will be dragging on your skid plates.

hiking
1 month ago

Great hiking trail with beautiful views. The trail is well marked and taken care of.

Definitely will be doing this trail again. We only went to camp lake this day but will be back to continue to bear lake. The beginning is mostly incline and was heavily traveled with a few large groups. Once at the lake we explored a bit. It is worth while to hike up to the ridge to see the views.

backpacking
1 month ago

Hiked this as an overnight backpacking trip with my family: two girls, ages 13 and 15, and mid 40s wife. We did so over Labor Day weekend and were not expecting big crowds at the Crabtree trailhead. Fortunately, we were able to find a nice campsite at the lake. Most folks had already set up at the south end (where the trail enters the lake) but there are a lot more spots if you continue north/left. Fuel here is at a minimum. Also, it's easy to pick up that this is a popular spot (toilet paper, bit of trash, no low limbs on trees, etc). Overall, a nice beginner's backpacking trip. The lake itself was quite warm at this time of year and good for a dip.

backpacking
1 month ago

Hiked this as an overnight backpacking trip with my family: two girls, ages 13 and 15, and mid 40s wife. We did so in June and it was exceptionally hot! Once we made it to the falls though we were able to hydrate and cool off in the river. Upside of the temperature may be that we had the place to ourselves. There was plenty of fuel for a campfire at the time and multiple campsites to chose from. Nice trip for beginner backpackers given the distance and elevation change. The trail itself was pretty overgrown in parts and, as others have mentioned, you have to watch out for poison oak.

Very nice mostly easy terrain until you get to the boulders. For me it was harder going up then coming down but totally worth it even without the waterfall. I’d advise wearing pants or longer shorts as I had to be in some awkward positions to climb the rocks and get back down. No woman wants scraped up legs. I enjoyed that it wasn’t full on sun. There was plenty of shade to enjoy on a hot day. Although I did see dogs at the bath I wouldn’t recommend bringing them up there. Also bring a backpack keep your hands free as you will need them both to get up to the bath.

Very nice trail . We didn’t have any trouble finding
The trails , not much water but it’s a beautiful place

off road driving
1 month ago

I got a stock JL Rubicon with 35s no lift , was able to go trough the new section ( rubbed on the skid plates and pulled the winch ones ) , used the bypass on the stairs till next time when I’ll be back with a 2.5 inch lift , will be enough.. great trail - don’t go alone !

First time, made it through no problem in my Rubicon with 35’s. Great trail, plan to spend time at the lake and bring your suit! Definitely will go again

hiking
1 month ago

First hike with a group. Was challenging for us newbies. Beautiful views of the lake and surrounding rocks. Was very proud of making it all the way around.

I prefer to go from lake alpine to Utica reservoir. it's not harder but I like it better. fun trail takes 2-3 hours to go straight through. baby Rubicon. would not recommend stock vehicles

hiking
1 month ago

great hike but lots of poison oak. The trail goes right through knee to chest high poison oak especially on the first 1/3 of the trail. But other than that it was an awesome day hike!!!!

It's a pretty boring route, the canyon is beautiful at the beginning, but then nothing happens. River is from a distance, and there isn't much shade.

off road driving
1 month ago

I was in the area and didn't think my stock K1500 with 32" tires would handle it but figured I'd just see and turn around if it didn't look doable. I didn't have to go further than the first rock obstacle to figure out there was absolutely no way unless I wanted to thrash the truck. About this same time a newer Tacoma with 34" tires was coming up the bypass after coming to the same conclusion about his truck. The Jeep Rubicon in front of me made it through the first obstacle fine but I ended up seeing him later and he turned around because he didn't want to chance it solo. As the review below stated, if you don't have 35" tires, expect damage.

hiking
2 months ago

Our family loves this hike. We do this about every 2 years while camping (alternating with Duck Lake). Our 3 young kids handle it well, taking about two or three breaks on the way up. Our medium sized dog handled it fine in the past, now we have a tiny dog-carried her in a backpack. Just did the hike last week, took us about 3 hours total. Most of the trail is shaded, minimal to no shade at the top.

Pretty hike but lots of mosquitos, my sister and I got eaten alive towards the end of the hike.

Parts of the trails were misleading. But overall it has beautiful scenery with some wildlife added to the trip. The hike is for sure over 6.7 miles. Also you need to be aware of some rock climbing involved. Overall I would recommend nice trail.

Lovely trail with beautiful spots to swim!
Remember to bring lots of water.

Was rather smokey when we started, but got better later in the morning. Challenging, but the worth the trek. Great view from the top!

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