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

The trail from y Meadows to chewing Gum lake not maintained and is more like rock climbing

Wonderful trail for all experience levels. Some friends and I went on a two night backpacking trip this past weekend and enjoyed the scenery regardless of the smoke from the fires nearby. Hope to go again soon when fire season is over.

To say it was beautiful doesn't do it justice. Very scenic would definitely be doing this one again. Lots of mosquito's. Bring DEET! I think we fell in right after they hatched. However each day seemed a little better. Had a great time. No fish in these lakes. Plenty of frogs though. To summit all up, if you can go, go!

We spent two nights at Chewing Gum Lake, July 25-27, with a day hike to Toejam Lake in between. Chewing Gum is a gorgeous lake, not cold this time of year, with great campsites. There were some mosquitoes at dawn and dusk but nothing severe--none at all during the middle of the day. The hike from the trailhead to Chewing Gum is a very good trail almost all the way and goes over two moderate ridges. The trail from Chewing Gum to Toejam is also mostly good except for the last 100 meters or so getting to Toejam, which is rocky and not too well defined. Toejam Lake is also gorgeous. The only good source of water between Chewing Gum and Toejam is at Whitesides Meadow, about halfway, so plan ahead--it was very hot out in the sun the day we hiked it.

we only made it to Camp Lake but it was great!

Good place to take your little ones for a hike and camping trip. It’s gets very packed with people on the weekends!

beautiful area - horrible mosquitoes right now... glad we brought cards, was confined to the tent for relief. trail was tough for a flat lander but great views.

We day hiked to Chewing Gum Lake from the Crabtree trailhead and back on July 10. It's slightly over 4 miles each way with a big elevation gain going out--almost 2000 feet over the first 2 miles or so. Most of it isn't very steep but it keeps coming at you. Most of the hike is in partial shade until you get very close to the lake and the wildflowers were lovely. The lake is very pretty and was a great place to have lunch. We found no mosquitoes at Chewing Gum near noon, and there was only one area on the way where the bugs got bad. Leaving the lake, staying on the trail requires some attention. This is a harder way to get to Chewing Gum than from Gianelli (more climbing) but very nice and very quiet. We saw only two other people during our 5-hour outing.

Backpacked the loop clockwise two weeks ago. As soon as we hit the pass before Piute Lake, mosquitos became unbearable. Camped the first night at Gem Lake and regretted that decision. We woke up early and had a great second day fishing Rainbows in Buck Meadow Creek and Cherry Creek West Fork. Camped at Grouse Lake second night and bugs were still bad but much better than Gem. We caught three Brown at dusk and one Rainbow at sunrise. Can’t wait to check out this area again without the skeeters.

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.

We were prepared for hoardes of mosquitos but it wasn’t bad! We stayed at the north end of the lake in a great little site. The bugs were a little annoying in the morning and a little bit at sundown but between permethrin, deet and picaridin they left us alone.

Others who had been at other lakes said the mosquitos were so bad they were basically trapped in their tents, even during the day.

This is an awesome beginner trip.

We took a day hike to Y Meadow Lake Greg bugs were worse there) and then came back cross country over the ridge to Chewing Gum. With topi maps it wasn’t too hard, even for a first-timer on the trip.

backpacking
1 month ago

Backpacked the shortest version of this loop (Crabtree TH past Grouse Lake to Groundhog Meadow, turned north and connected with the upper part of the trail, and returned past Camp Lake) on June 25-27. Camped at the south crossing of Piute Creek on Monday night and were eaten by mosquitoes. Otherwise it was a lovely campsite and the bugs weren't too bad until about 6 pm, but in the early evening and early morning they were fierce. Everyone we met coming out on Monday told us that the deeper you go in the worse the mosquitoes get. So we canceled our plan to go to Gem and Jewelry Lakes and instead just went to Camp Lake, stayed there Tuesday night, and walked out Wednesday morning. Only mild mosquito activity at Camp Lake at the campsites far above the lake. Lily and Piute Creeks were way down relative to two weeks ago--no wading necessary to cross them. This loop is a nice day hike and a fairly easy one-night backpack trip. We made it two nights only because we really wanted to be out for two nights.

hiking
1 month 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: https://csgirllife.wordpress.com/pinecrest-peak-almost-stanislaus-national-forest/

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

beautiful area. relatively easy hike in 6 MI. very very bad mosquitoes. basically the mosquitoes are out with a vengeance from about 7 in the morning until 9:30 at night. would definitely go back in late summer. we did camp for two nights. and we did swim in the lake which was beautiful, but we swam with our mosquito Nets on our heads and made a major Dash back to the tent once out of the water.

Wonderful hike, not too tough. Views are some of the best. Mosquitoes were so bad people were cutting their trips short. Bring DEET, and it is tolerable. Will definitely do this one again or hit another of the many lakes in the same area.

1 month ago

Traveled from the south direction and had lunch at grouse lake. (Great idea) Then camped at Gem lake, mosquitoes were absolutely terrible. Spent the day hiking out and was tormented by them anytime I was near water, other than camp lake. I will go again just at a latter date. But the scenery is beautiful.

backpacking
1 month ago

Completed this over the weekend of June 16-17, 2018 as a two day hike. Camped out Friday night at Crabtree, left early Saturday morning, and came back Sunday at 6pm. We hiked around 11-12 hours each day. There were about 8 wet river crossings we had to do with rather cold water anywhere from 1-3 feet in depth. Light to moderate current. Make sure to bring some good sandals to wear during the crossings. Also had about 5 river crossings we were able to do by walking across fallen trees. Every time we reached a river crossing we would spend 5-10 minutes scouting upstream and downstream for around 100m to see if there were dry crossing options or if the boots were coming off. This was a little annoying, though the ice cold water and the chance to air out and dry our feet every few hours probably helped prevent blisters.

Snow was still to be found near Emigrant Lake and the higher elevations, making it easy to lose the trail at times but never for more than around 50m. Once we got past Gem lake we saw a only few people and a couple of horses. I lost count of how many beautiful lakes we passed. Also had spectacular views of valleys, cliffs, and meadows. Bring DEET, as there are some areas quite dense with mosquitoes.

This is a good challenge to do in two days if you are in shape for it. Otherwise, three or more days would be quite a bit more relaxing.

backpacking
1 month ago

Great trail with lots of varied terrain, incredible views, pristine lakes and tons of fish. I wound up making a side trip around Huckleberry Lake and a second side trip up to Twin Lakes on Yosemite’s northern border. There was still a fair amount of snow at the higher elevations and the creek crossings were a little dicey. The worst crossing (IMHO) was the East Fork of Cherry Creek coming back from Twin Lakes - there was a 2.5 foot in diameter tree spanning the river which was great. Unfortunately it rested high above a pretty torrential set of rapids so if you slipped you’re a goner. Nothing like the fear of death to sharpen your mind :)

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

Just completed the loop - backpacking. No snow but mosquitoes are ferocious at Gem lake. Deep Woods Off not effective - we hunkered in our tent for 3 hours til sun went down and skeeters left. I do not recommend camping at Gem or higher elev. for maybe another few weeks? Until they die off. Camp Lake and Grouse Lake (along north and south legs) are 1000' lower elevation and no bugs - good camping right now. Cherry Creek (cross on both the north side and south side of loop) is running about knee high and very cold but not too hard to cross.

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
2 months ago

heavily trafficked, not sure why it is labeled as "light" definately bring deet.

beautiful hike. went from crabtree th to deer lake and sayed the night. all in all a great trip.

Just got back yesterday. Trailhead is easy to get to. Beautiful loop. The lakes are small, but maybe that's to be expected. The first good place to camp is at Piute Lake, but Gem is even prettier. The creeks were not too hard to cross. The deepest reached halfway up my thigh (I'm 5'4"), but the water is freezing. Found a fantastic campsite at the southern crossing of Cherry Creek. Just walk straight up the granite on the West side of the creek until you can't go up any further. Great view and secluded. Downside of this trail was the amount of people out there. Saw at least 20 people over 2 days.

backpacking
2 months 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.

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.

My goal was to go from Crabtree TH to Gem Lake the first day and then to explore the lakes beyond Gem Lake. Unfortunately, the water at Cherry Creek (about .75 miles from Gem Lake) was to my chest and higher in most spots and I wasnt able to find a good place to cross without having to float my backpack and swim. I chose not to and returned to Piute Lake for the night. Piute was a good spot and no one else was around. Good initial plan, just happened to catch the runoff at the wrong time.

We backpacked from Crabtree to Gem Lake on Memorial weekend as an out-and-back hike using the upper end of the loop. We spent a day hiking from Gem Lake around Deer Lake, absolutely gorgeous area, still covered by 2-3 feet drifts of snow with some clear patches in sunnier areas, so expect slower travel (and beautiful pictures!)

The snow was melting at the end of the weekend. Cherry Creek filled up fast and rose a couple feet on our way back so we camped nearby and crossed in the morning. It came up to our hips even still! Absolutely use caution when crossing anytime soon. Paiute Creek is also rising from snowmelt, but it wasn't as swollen and came up to mid-thigh on us.

I'd recommend this hike to anybody who'd like to get away to a beautiful place! Will definitely be going back later this year - hopefully we'll make it all the way to Emigrant Lake next time!

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