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Pinecrest Lake, Stanislaus National Forest

Pinecrest Lake is located in the Central Sierra. It is part of the Stanislaus National Forest. It’s a popular location for camping, hiking, boating, and swimming. If you have never been to the Sierra, Pinecrest is a great place to start and beautiful all year round. 

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Pinecrest Lake


This location has a campground, which is terrific for those looking to camp, with the convenience of having things nearby like a store, boat rentals, and more. When the lake is accessible, there is a 4-mile trail that loops all around the lake. For reservations, book here.

Pinecrest Lake

Hiking the Loop Around the Lake

Here are the trail details from AllTrails for a hike. The loop connects to another trail called Cleo’s Bath – if you choose to do both, it will put you closer to 7 miles.

To begin the Pinecrest Lake Loop trail, you will want to start on the left side of the lake; you will go through a paved trail & pass the rental boating area.

Once you have passed all that, the trail will begin and look like the image below.

Pinecrest Lake
Pinecrest Lake

Camping Essentials

Strawberry Dam

Once you continue up the trail, you will see another sign like the one pictured below. Keep hiking, and after a mile or so, you will notice a Dam from afar – this is known as the Strawberry Dam.

You’ll be hiking over the top of the dam; it’s safe, but try not to get too close to the edge. As you can see in the picture, there is plenty of space to hike, but be extra cautious.

From this location on the trail, you can see the dam, so look into the trees – it looks like a waterfall from afar. 

Pinecrest Lake

Passing the Dam

After you pass the dam, you will continue. You will be going up and down boulders, seeing more views of the lake from different angles & cabins that are part of the Pinecrest Lake Resort.

You will come across a bridge; it gets much quieter in this area, and the views are lovely. Once you are halfway through the loop, you will see a sign. You’ll want to continue towards the Main Trail, which takes you to the right side of the lake.

Pinecrest Lake

Near the End

You will start getting closer to the trail’s end when you continue for another mile and a half. You will pass more cabins and come across an area with several trees; the right side of the lake is a lot more shaded than the left side of the trail.

Water levels in the lake vary per year, and if you’d like to take a dip in the lake, start where the beach area is so you can find a good spot.

Pinecrest Lake

Ski Resort Nearby

Parking at Pinecrest Lake is free if you are visiting for the day. Pinecrest is also located near Dodge Ski Resort, which is open in the winter.

Pinecrest Lake

Here is another hiking location in the Central Sierra to check out: [Blue Canyon Lake, Sonora Pass].

Your Thoughts: Have you been to Pinecrest?

This post was about Pinecrest Lake in the Stanislaus National Forest. What is your favorite area in the Stanislaus National Forest? Share a comment below if you have never been but would like to visit Pinecrest Lake.

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