Explore the most popular waterfall 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.

Great area to get away from the crowds. Plenty of areas along the trail to dip in the water. Water is very cold but refreshing after the hike in.

on Carlon Falls Trail

hiking
3 days ago

The trail runs along the river for a good portion of the route, which provides for nice scenery in contrast to the absolute devastation from former burns if you look in the other direction. Ease of navigation leaves something to be desired - there are countless offshoots and no blazes to reaffirm whether you are on the actual trail. The falls at the end of the hike are a worthwhile finale.

hiking
5 days ago

Went with my daughter and 3 grandchildren ages 5, 9, and 10. The trail is easy until you get to the destination where the waterfall and swimming hole is. You just have to go slow and be careful getting down to it, but it was totally worth it. It was so beautiful and peaceful, I’m going back. Please take out what you bring in, there was a lot of garbage and broken glass in some spots.

This is a dangerous hike if your not extremely careful! Did this with my ten year old daughter who does lots of hikes with us, this is definitely the most terrifying for me as a mom! No rope was on the very beginning steepest part like some reviews had stated. Clavey River is absolutely beautiful. The actually baths are amazing but be careful when swimming, it's very cold and rapid. Some guys jumping off the cliff had to be helped out of the water because they lost strength. Very dangerous but awesome place. So be careful and have fun! Also there was groups of people on a Sunday so not a hidden place.

Really cool hike it's a little hard to follow the path. But they have blue arrows directing you for the most part! Really pretty views along the trail

hiking
13 days ago

This hike is gorgeous! I’ve hiked around Pinecrest several times and always wanted to hike back in. The water was really moving today, and we could hear the waterfall from pretty far away. Be prepared to scale some large boulders. We saw one small ran snake, but I’m sure there were others hidden in the rocks and plants so watch your toes! The trail can be hard to find at times. Keep an eye out for blue spray painted arrows, piled rocks, and occasionally arrows that look like they were done with crayon! If all else fails, follow the water up! A lot of dogs were on the way back, but once we scrambled up the rocks a lot stopped at the bottom. It’d be very difficult for them and young kids/elderly.

hiking
14 days ago

2.3 miles to the summit - pretty steep at the end, take your time. Stunning views, perfect place for lunch at the summit in the little rock circle. Tons of snow fields on the way up - thought we were done with that, but tons of snow after as well, except not flat and a bit treacherous. Thankfully others had gone before us and left footprints. We got pretty severely off trail due to the amount of snow - would’ve ranked it a 5 if it weren’t for the snow and ice and we’d been able to stay on trail. Seriously beautiful though, not one to miss!

hiking
14 days ago

This is a beautiful hike but more than moderate in difficulty in places, especially in the uphill portion to Cleo's Bath. The trail is not well mark in place that resulted in a number of side tours for us and other hiking at the time. The last stretch to the top of the falls can be outright dangerous if you take the almost vertical route.

hiking
15 days 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! :)

16 days ago

The hiking part was really just following a short trail to a gorgeous swimming hole/waterfall! A great place for whole family, will definitely be returning to this spot throughout the summer!

hiking
17 days ago

Nice little day hike. Mostly shaded. Nice little falls/cascades at end. When water volume over falls is lower, many swimming opportunities would be available.

on Preston Falls Trail

hiking
27 days 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.

nature trips
29 days ago

I would rate this more as a nature hike. The trail is fairly easy until the last 1/4 mile. From there it becomes steep and rocky until you reach the falls. We did it with a 4 year old in tow.
The trail is within the burn area of the 2013 Rim Fire, it provided a great learning opportunity for our 12 year old to see the devastation and regrowth as part of our nature's cycle.
The falls are amazing with pools to dip in if you dare (that water is icy! brrrr!!).

Great place to visit

hiking
1 month ago

There are several short hikes here and you can easily jump from one to the other. The parking area was not clean and maintained. Pretty sad all the garbage was over flowing. The trail is not really special and yes was burned several years ago.
The falls are worth the hike. Great swimming holes and cold water!

Moderate scrambling, but fun for the whole family ! The pools are awesome and if you don’t mind cold water take a swim!

nature trips
1 month ago

The road in is a local back road, not well maintained but navigable. Look for the bent cattle gate with two large boulders (GPS led us right to it).

Easy hike in with our 4 year old and 12 year old kids. A little steep at the end to a sweet little swimming hole. Wildflowers and butterflies were abundant. Watch out for poison oak. As always, please pack out what you bring in.

beautiful - hike by Pinecrest Lake, Stanislaus River, forested area, waterfalls and Cleo's Bath at top. the rock scrambling is rigorous in one spot.

on Lyons Dam

fishing
1 month ago

Easy and scenic hiking and quiet fishing on most weekdays.

walking
1 month ago

Gorgeous walk kinda confusing when you pull up as to where you need to start the trail but the waterfall and area were great

backpacking
2 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.

Easy hike, plenty of space to park, restrooms, beautiful view!!!

nature trips
2 months ago

Great little day hike with a cascading water falls and swimming holes throughout. I would rate the hike down as an easy hike. Not too over-crowded and you’ll be able to find a peaceful spot without too much trouble if the main water fall is crowded. Great jumping options rated beginner to expert and as of the first week of April ‘18 the water isn’t as cold as you’d think. Get in! Highly recommended for single, double and family groups. Will be coming back to this beautiful hike/swimming hole.

hiking
2 months ago

Great for an easy introduction for kids that aren’t used to hiking, or when you are short on time.

This trail has dangerous fall situations. Not for children

hiking
3 months ago

Nice hike. Low impact but gets rocky by the end. Peaceful and pretty. Nice hike along creek to waterfall.

This trail is very dangerous and should never be mistaken for less. I personally have assisted in two helicopter rescues from this trail, both being fall victims. On three different visits the the bath, I have seen the remains of dogs that had fallen to their deaths. I am a local and have frequented the bath for over forty years and say this trail demands caution!

hiking
3 months ago

It was snowy and lovely. Met a couple of hikers. Saw folks on horseback. We only made it about 2.5 miles in and didn’t hike all the way to the dam. That was too much for us in the snow. We did see a small cascading waterfall. Very small. Lots of wildlife tracks. Exciting.

walking
3 months ago

Nice walk on a dirt road. Pretty busy with dogs, bikes, runners. Open in winter. Will go back!

Great hike. Loved that there was actual climbing required to get there. Not too hard to do, I saw dogs and children as young as 7 doing it. The best part is having a nice cold bath waiting for you at the end, with some great views of Pinecrest Lake.

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