Explore the most popular hiking 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.

I absolutely loved this trail....my friend who is not a hiker came with me, we made it to the top no issues. amazing views. started raining as we were on the top. As we hiked down the rocks were extremely slippery. I hit a rock just right and rolled my ankle. Continued to hike until I couldn't go any further. Had to call 911 and be rescued out. Tualome co fire dept is absolutely AMAZING. 4 firemen hiked me out. Turns out I fractured my fibula in two places, had to have surgery requiring a metal plate with screws in my ankle. Still recovering but you can bet I will be back!

hiking
1 day ago

I hiked this trail today, 20 October 2018.

This trail and lake are gorgeous! The route is a manageable distance and elevation change, but the altitude slowed me down more than I expected. I imagine this lake being absolutely stunning on a sunny day (needs sun to be bright blue!) after a light snow. The sky today was clear and the lake was incredible. It’s not a massive lake, but definitely big enough for dogs and brave people to swim around and enjoy. The river, flowers, and icy waterfalls on the way were beautiful as well.

Trail:
The AllTrails directions will get you to the exact trailhead parking. Start your app where you have service and keep it on if you’d like to double check your progress to the lake. You’ll park along the road before the “9000 ft elevation” sign. Walk down the hill and cross the creek. You should see the trail go back up and over. The creeks were passable at this time without getting wet (as long as you can jump or rock walk, but it still isn’t that intense). Keep in mind that they’ll be a bit fuller and faster later in the day as the ice melts.
I found the trail to be easily followable. The path is well worn, and even at spots that were briefly uncertain, the area is clear enough to look on and see where you need to go. It’s a fairly straight trail anyway, you could point-and-shoot/river walk your way there easily. The hardest part was a bit of a rock slide scramble, but it was manageable. There was no ice or snow today to deal with. The only confusing part I got to was the last plateau of elevation before the last few tenths of a mile. The trail kind of abruptly ended at a step ridge, and it wasn’t obvious to me whether I was supposed to go over it or to head down the cliff side to the river. I realized that dropping down to the river was the correct way after a bit of bumbling around the ridge figuring the river will get me there anyway. The drop to the river was a bit harrowing at first, but there are plenty of rocks to make multiple points of contact on so you don’t totally eat it. From there, it was an easy walk up the river/trail to the lake.
The walk back is obviously just as simple. You can see the road once you’re halfway back. I don’t want to say it’s impossible, but it’s really really hard to get lost. There are opportunities to take a harder path over some rocks of course. My dog always found an easier way it seemed!

Overall, I thought this trail was moderate for someone in reasonable shape who can handle some climbing or at least butt scooting up and down rocks. It would’ve been easy if it weren’t for the altitude and those two spots that were a bit difficult to traverse.

Time:
I left the trailhead at 7:45 AM, about 20 minutes after sunrise. No one else was parked there, and I had about two hours to myself at the lake before heading back. I didn’t pass anyone else until about 11:15 when I was almost back to my car. At that point the lot was almost full and about 5 people were headed to the lake.
Leaving that early was nice because it was definitely bright enough to see, but the ridge shaded the trail (there are no trees) on the way up. Once I got to the lake, I had to wait about 30 minutes for the sun to hit the lake and reflect it’s gorgeous blue.

Dogs:
My hiking buddy today was my 16 month old lab mix. Apparently these trails require dogs to be on leash, but there were a few times I had to let him off so that we could safely negotiate the rock scrambles and creek crossings without messing each other up. I recommend having your pup wear a harness. It’s far easier for humans to scoot down steep ridges without forward momentum sending you over, and I had to pull on him a few times to help him brake. Of course he jumped rocks, creeks, and swam in the lake like a CHAMP. Keep this in mind if your dog is not the best on off leash recall, or if they’re not the most agile. Your dog will need supervision/coaching, especially on those steep parts I mentioned. Also, check their paws for scratches/blisters. Apply paw wax before leaving if they aren’t used to walking on rocks.

Bring:
Layers! It was in the 40s when I started hiking. About halfway, I got hot enough to shed the jacket and balaclava. It was also a tad windy at the lake.
Sunscreen. There is no shade after about 1030 AM.
Snacks. I like to bring dried fruit at high altitudes. There didn’t appear to be wildlife threats keeping people from bringing small snacks. I did not bring my dogs meat snacks though.
Water. I had a 2.5 liter camelbak that more than lasted me. My dog had some, but mostly preferred the cold, fresh river water to the lodge tap water (I don’t blame him).
Actual hiking boots. You’ll need them when avoiding slippery small rock slides while gripping onto bigger rocks that are cold or slick in the creek. Also, some rock spots are ankle breakers.

I think poles are unnecessary, if not inconvenient. I needed my hands free for the rock scrambles.

Enjoy!

hiking
10 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.

This trail is easily one of my top trails to visit again. Just did this trail yesterday and the view was amazing. The hike might be short but man it was tough, but totally worth it. Recommend 5/5 stars!

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.

This was my first backpacking trip. We did three days and two nights. The last weekend of September all of the creeks were dry, the lakes were a little low but still beautiful. The days were perfect hiking weather in the 70s-80s. Nice chilly nights probably 40-30s. Day 1 started at the Crabtree trail head. The trail was fairly moderate elevation rise. We had lunch at Camp Lake. So beautiful with lovely fall foliage. We hiked further on and ended the day at Bear Lake. We set up camp on the North side of the lake. We found a great camp site with a stone fire ring, enough room for two tents and a view of watching the sunset behind the lake. Our second day was a beast! Quite a climb in altitude had my heart pounding! But the glorious high mountain vistas were absolutely worth it! We stopped to have lunch at an unnamed lake we called Lily Pond Lake. After lunch my son stood up quick and from the high altitude he got a massive bloody nose. Took us an extra 30min just to stop the bleeding. After half a toilet paper roll used, we continued on our journey. Past dried up Piute Creek we ended our day at Grouse Lake. This day was quite strenuous and took us longer than estimated. But this was my first big hiking trip, we had a couple groups fly past us with their happy dogs leading the way. At Grouse Lake we found a spacious camp site with a large stone fire ring on the North of the Lake and trail. On our third day we finished the loop back to Crabtree trail head. This was the shortest day, but the incline in elevation was intense for a little while. On our way we passed a couple groups on horses. And also saw some shy deer. As a whole the trail was very well maintained, perfect for a first timer.

9/29/18 Did the loop as a day trip. 7 hours of walking, an hour of lunch and yoga and an hour of taking photos and just enjoying log sitting.
Clockwise is the way to go - esp for water. Plenty at camp, lily pad, piute, gem and grouse. Nothing between gem and grouse on main trail.
No insects just golden ferns, mushrooms and beauty ❤️

backpacking
22 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.

took about 1.25 hours to hike to the lake, some loose uphill but not bad at all. the lake was beautiful, some bees were around but not enough to disrupt the view. 10/10 would recommend!

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.

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

Went counterclockwise for the loop. Labor Day weekend was quite busy, but we found a great spot overlooking Gem Lake. Several good dayhikes are possible from Gem. Scarce mosquitos this time of year. The lake water is very cold and refreshing, and tastes good once filtered. No complaints other than the holiday crowd.

There is a good amount of elevation to climb towards Gem Lake from both directions. Be prepared to rest and catch your breath (you’re well above a mile up) if you have to.

We did the lower part of the loop--Crabtree to Grouse Lake to just before the turnoff to Gem Lake, and then back. This would be a great hike except that on Labor Day weekend there was no water in any of the creeks (Lily, Piute, or Cherry).The only source of water between Crabtree and Gem Lake was Grouse Lake, and it had been badly fouled by cattle. I was really glad to have a good water filter but the filter was completely clogged after several uses. On the plus side, there were no mosquitoes--not a one.

Cool place for some backpacking. Parking can be brutal. Somewhat, busy, from the amount of cars you see, but hiking wise, it’s isn’t that bad. Started our hike at 10:45am and made it to Gem Lake by 3:15pm. Found a great spot and it wasn’t too crowded. NO MOSQUITOES AT ALL, so that was awesome. We did the hike clock-wise and this is what I would recommend for everyone wanting to the the loop.

hiking
1 month ago

Amazing! Great hike not for the beginner. So beautiful the water is so blue, along the trail you’ll see waterfalls, wild flowers and beautiful rock formations. I’m ready to do it again!

This trail has it all. Some ups, some downs, some sun, some shade. A few nice swimming holes. Natures raw beauty and sweet serenity. Even a little cowbell! (see pics in my profile) Good elevation gain for a nice workout. Trail length much longer than posted, I completed 15 miles and didn't even do the offshoot because I started late and was running out of daylight. Even on Labor Day the trail wasn't too populated. Trail goes from super sandy in spots, to you having to traverse over rocks, big and small. A varied terrain for sure. Lots of super rad places to camp, would be perfect for packing in and staying overnight. Recommended hike!

Great hike one of my favorite. Views at the top are amazing and when you get to the lake it is even better. Nice place to relax and chill at the water, people swam and hangout. I would say its semi-crowded but worth it and the hike is moderate. A must try hike!

Great trail. ROund trip from the parking lot to the lake and back was closer to 10 miles.

NOTE: paved road ends and you have to drive about 6 miles on a graded dirt road.

The trail had a few really nice vista points. And the lake was beautiful. I’d like to return and stay a couple nights.

We did this 20 mile loop, counter clockwise, in one day. It was a long day (took us about 9.5 hours to complete) but definitely doable.

We were surprised to see lots of cows grazing around Bell Meadow and near Grouse Lake as well. Just a heads up as we were a bit startled the first time we came across them. We saw lots of mosquitos as Grouse, but the rest of the trail was pretty free of them.

We also struggled with trail markers after about the 7th mile out. We got a little turned around on our way back, at around mile 14. The trail is very dry and dusty this time of year, but the sky was clear (no smoke!) and the scenery is truly breathtaking.

The lakes and creeks were teeming with mosquitoes. Even with deet and smokey campfires, I got about fifty bites, mostly near the creek crossing where we camped around mile 6.

Gem lake (10mi) was free of mosquitoes around 1pm and was lovely to swim in. I expect it would have been a nice place to camp without getting eaten so badly.

Grouse Lake (15mi) was also not too bad, but still not great.

Lots of horse poop on the trail.

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

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

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.

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

Even in late summer with little flowing water the pools and vistas make the hike more than worthwhile!

backpacking
2 months ago

gorgeous hike with wildflowers and a big green lake. the stream crossings are super manageable this time of year but be aware of high risk for forest fires. we backpacked in and had the whole lake to ourselves. dog friendly!

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.

Awesome hike and very scenic!

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