Pinecrest Peak Trail

HARD 28 reviews
#12 of 72 trails in

Pinecrest Peak Trail is a 14.5 mile loop trail located near Pinecrest, California that features a lake and is rated as difficult. The trail offers a number of activity options and is best used from April until November. Dogs are also able to use this trail but must be kept on leash.

14.5 miles
3,143 feet

dogs on leash




nature trips

trail running







off trail

no shade

3 months 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.

6 months ago

We only made it to about 3/4 of the elevation gain, but we did get to some amazing views of both the mountain range and the lake from above.

The trailhead is pretty hard to locate: use gps and offline maps, don't trespass, and if you find yourself on an overgrown trail that doesn't look like it's used much - you are on the right path!

More photos:

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Went yesterday and was amazed by how great the views were! Start by getting a map and for information from the ranger station at the corner of 108 (ask the pinecrest campground kiosk). If you are going from the pinecrest campgrounds then start from the left side of the pinecrest lake. It is the fastest way to the trail. The trail is found by going on the CATFISH LAKE trail. The catfish lake trail can be found by going from the left side of the lake loop. You can miss the trail easily as it only has a small marker. The trail is located by a cabin (owned by an old man). The old man gave us good directions and stated the following:

There will be a couple junctions but always stay right. Stay right of the ponds. And keep hiking.

Disclaimer: the catfish lake trail is by a cabin. If you have gone past the water dam, then you went too far.

IMPORTANT: Use tons of mosquito repellent.

The trail is poorly marked for a little while (past the old man's cabin). We got lost a little bit but the navigation of the app helped us get back on trail.

DEFINITELY RECOMMEND 1 person with Verizon. AT&T and Sprint and T-Mobile do not work. They only work at the peak.

There is a junction that shows the "peak trail" sign and all you gotta do is follow it up.

We got to a spot where we thought the peak was (amazing view), but it was not. There was more trail left. Keep following the trail and you'll be there. It's roughly a 5.5 mile hike up and a 5.5 mile hike down. Should only take moderate-expert hikers roughly 6-7 hours. It's moderately big dog friendly. Not small dog friendly.

Make sure you follow the same way down you came up.

Saturday, July 01, 2017

We hiked from a cabin on the north shore of Pinecrest Lake, almost up to the Peak. Our up and back was 7 miles. In walking out to the view we thought we were there and missed the last part of the trail to the peak. I don't believe that this map actually shows all the way to the peak. The peak is at the x, over 8,000 elevation. We were about 1.5 to 2 miles from it. We ran into a mt bike rider coming up who informed us. Wish I read an earlier reviewer who suggested the heatmap. Next time, and I will do this again, we'll use that to find the rest of the trail. The trail has been mostly cleared or opened up since the last writer and was a wonderful hike! The views are stunning!!! There is a trail from Strawberry up to Catfish Lake that mt bikers are taking to the peak now. We hiked.

Sunday, June 04, 2017

6/3/2017 Hike
Completed the Pinecrest Lake Loop and went up to Catfish Lake, all in all about 7 miles. The Catfish Lake trail is overrun with downed trees that made it hard to follow the path. Lots of mosquitoes in this area. It was worth seeing Catfish lake despite the difficulties, so peaceful up there. The trail around Pinecrest Lake was more enjoyable, lots of shade, and definitely an easy route. This area is riddled with people so if you'd prefer less crowded hikes, this isn't for you. We didn't complete this hike all the way to the peak, just up to Catfish Lake. It was gnarly up there and not safe for young kids.

Monday, May 22, 2017

Overnight Camping Trip:
20 May 2017 - 21 May 2107

This was our first overnight camp, and a lot of fun too.
We brought a compass and map, which ended up coming in use a few times. True Pine Crest Peak is about 1.5 miles away. Use the "Heat Map" Overlay to find the path to true Pine Crest Peak Trail. The views, sunset, and sunrise at the end of this trail are beautiful!

We spotted a black bear off the lumber trail, near the finishing point. A set of fresh tracks on the Lumber Road on our way back, and one set at the finishing point. Practice your bear warding yelling and keep bear spray on hand. We were not practicing warding yelling and made eye contract from about 200 feet away, very un-nerving. KEEP YOUR PETS ON A LEASH.

80's and 90's open sun travel. We packed 3 liters of water each. We did not practice rationing, and used it for 02 food rehydration meals. We are consistent water drinkers and the heat demanded it. Emptied our water supply by the time we returned to the Boat Rental Shop, we also did not do the loop and went from the top of the lake and straight to the end; maybe 10 miles total.

Mosquitos are huge by Catfish Lake and various water bodies. Sunblock then spray. For those who do not know. If using Deet spray; 20-30% only, nothing higher.

There is snow and a large tree blocking the ridge line portion of the trail. Kind of sketchy but doable.
Snow at the finish point, which we used as a fire extinguisher source. It will most likely be melted by next weekend, if the hot weather continues.

From the Pine Crest Lake Start, there are 2 trees that have been cut down and have blocked the trail very well.

First open rock traversing area heading to Catfish Lake; trail gets very obscure in the woods you will enter. There are rock piles in the open rock area to help give you a general bearing of travel. You will see the obvious first pile, then look left to get an idea of travel. Within the woods about 100 feet radius of entry into the woods is a good trail, but it is hard to find when entering. We will be marking this area for easy travel, on our next run.

There are fallen trees across the ridge trail by Herring Creek.

Catfish Lake:
You are there if you see the wooden TeePee structure in the water. Also there is a junction trail marker in the same area.
Travel past the TeePee and stay follow the trail all the way to the Peak Marker on the Logging Road.

There is a pine tree that fell across the road. It obscures the trail on the far side of the road. We missed it and took the Lumber Road to the top. This is also where we found the black bear about 200 feet into the woods from the road. You can use the Lumber Road to get to the finishing point. Follow it through the sharp turn, when it ends, just go up and you are there.

We upgraded the camp fire site a bit. Wind protection and air feeders. Keep it small and extinguishing water nearby, the wind was very sporadic when we were there.

Monday, October 24, 2016

This trail was beautiful! Based on my GPS, it's 12 miles and elevation change was about 2800 feet. Great views around the lake and at the peak. I would have given 5 stars if it wasn't for the wasp that tried to kill me!

Sunday, August 07, 2016

Awesome hike. Loved the view all around the lake. Its fun to just get out enjoy the view and the fresh mountain air. Would deffently recommend it to people to give it a try.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Hi I made it to the peak from the the lake parking area. On the return I finished the loop around the lake and the entire walk was a little over 12 miles.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

We started the hike at Herring Creek Lane.. We crossed the log by the old bridge foundation and headed up the path to the left towards Catfish Lake.. We then kept walking to the pond and bark Mi wuk hut.. Not far after this is a junction, we stayed to the right.. It brings you to a road with a trail marker pointing to a rock wall, marked Peak trail, we followed the trail the rest of the way to the top.. We hiked this in January and there were a few patches of snow but those were an added bonus for the kids enjoyment.. The view was amazing and well worth the hike... We jogged the majority of the way back to make save time.. ( Almost all downhill the way back.. ) The hike took us 5 1/2 hours

Friday, September 27, 2013

We love this hike! The dogs love it too. I am confused about the trail is used for off road driving? For all the years I have been coming here I have never seen the gate open to off road vehicles. Hubby and I have based camped at Herring Creek when the season permits. We are an older couple and yes we do huff and puff at the elevation 7000 ft. and the climb up to 8000 + but it is a doable and we always pack water for us and the dogs. Also a good idea to pack some sandwiches and enjoy the views! This in no way connects to Pinecrest Lake. I love the spring season up here because of the water. In the fall, like today, the water is scarce even in the creek. We saw trout that were stranded in the pools today :-( Also watch for when hunting season opens. Today I wore orange along with the dogs, orange bandanas just to be on the safe side. Enjoy!

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

I hiked from the town of Strawberry to the Peak in mid-August. The view is SPECTACULAR!! However, if you are in need of clear trail markers this may not be a good first try. Either start from the store in Strawberry (ask about how to reach Catfish Lake, but DON'T BRING FISHING GEAR!), or start from Pinecrest Lake and follow the sign on the West side of the lake for the Catfish lake trail. From either direction you will come to a three way intersection with a large piece of wood standing up. From here the trail obviously heads North. Follow it for about a mile and there will be an old timber road the trail cuts across with a sign that says PEAK. From here the elevation gain is more substantial and the real ascent begins. The trail was designed for mountain bikers so just follow the tracks and cairns all the way to the top. I haven't found any distance estimates going this way but with a few breaks for photos and food the round trip took me a little over six hours. Bring plenty of water as the sun exposure at that elevation is dramatic and dehydration can set in rapidly. By the way my legs feel today I would estimate the distance at about 12+ miles. If anyone gets a chance to pace it off or uses a GPS route I'd love to find out how far it really is :)

recorded pcp

mountain biking
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Tuesday, January 09, 2018

Sunday, December 31, 2017

Monday, May 22, 2017

Monday, April 24, 2017

Friday, September 02, 2016

recorded Pinecrest Peak Trail

Thursday, August 15, 2013