Sonora Pass Vacations
Lodging and Camping
Fishing, Boating, Camping, Swimming, Hiking, Outdoor Movies
Pinecrest draws thousands of visitors every year, but it still retains its friendly,
small community atmosphere that has made it a favorite vacation destination for generations of families.
miles east of Sonora in Tuolumne County, California, Pinecrest Lake and its surrounding
community are easy to reach via
un-crowded Highway 108 in summer and winter.
Pinecrest Lake is well known for great fishing and boating,
a friendly marina and free boat launching ramp, a fishing dock, sandy beaches and
roped off area for swimmers. A 20 MPH speed limit on the lake and restrictions against water skiing
and jet skis help to maintain Pinecrest Lake's tranquil atmosphere. At an elevation of 5,616 feet, 30-acre
Pinecrest Lake is high enough to remain balmy and comfortable
even during the heat of summer.
2015 Happenings at Pinecrest Lake
Outdoor Movies, Campfire Programs, and Ranger Activities
The 2015 Schedule of Activities should be released in May.
Pinecrest Lake Run - Sunday, August 9, 2015
The annual Pinecrest Lake Run is set for August 9, 2015. Meet
beside the Pinecrest Lake beach. Registration begins at 7:30 AM. The Pinecrest Lake Run course leads through Pinecrest streets
and then out the lake shoreline toward the dam before turning uphill to the water tanks and back around to
the starting place near the beach.
- 1 Mile Fun Run - Free - Starts at 8:30 AM
- 5 Mile Lake Run - starts at 9:00 AM
The run is a fundraiser for the Mountain Oaks Charter School.
Pinecrest Lake Upgrades
Starting in 2011, P G & E and the Forest Service began making upgrades to the Pinecrest
Recreation Area. These improvedments include upgrades in the day use area, upgraded restrooms, new fish cleaning
areas, new water and sewer lines, and a dock and restrooms on the east shore.
Some of the Improvements Already in Place
- East Shore Day Use Area - restrooms, picnic tables, bulletin board, trash containers
- Boat Launch Ramp Upgrades - restrooms, picnic tables, bulletin board, trash containers
- Beach and Day-Use Area Improvements - Upgrades to beaches, restrooms, roads, parking, and campgrounds.
Further improvements in the day use area and the campgrounds will continue through 2019. Most of the
work will be done before Memorial Day weekend and after Labor Day. For details, visit P G & E's website, Pinecrest Recreation Area Update
Most of the cabins in Pinecrest were built in the mid-1900s. They retain the rustic
look of old lodges and mountain retreats with their dark wood exteriors and stone fireplaces, but many
have been remodeled and updated with modern amenities to provide comfortable living. The cabins are
scattered along winding streets within easy walking distance of Pinecrest Lake.
A few cabins front the lake.
Renting a cabin at Pinecrest Lake is an economical and relaxing way for a family or
group of friends to spend a few days or a week or two in this beautiful setting.
For more information about renting a vacation cabin, see Vacation Cabin Rentals
The Pinecrest Lake Marina is open from 6 am to 9 pm during the summer and
8 am to 6 pm during spring and fall. They rent aluminum fishing boats with outboard motors
for $40 for 2 hours or $80 for a half day. The boats hold five people.
The Pinecrest Lake Marina also rents paddle (pedal) boats, which hold up to 4 people, for $20 for 2 hours or $40 for half a day. Kayaks
(both single or double seaters) are available. A double costs $25 for 2 hours and a single
is $20 for 2 hours. Hourly rates are cheaper if the boats are rented for longer times.
Sunfish sailboats rent for $40 per hour or $80 for a half day of sailing on Pinecrest Lake. Two sizes of pontoon "partyboats"
are available. They hold from 10 to 15 people and rent for between $95 and $110 for 2 hours, less per
hour for longer periods.
Temporary boat slips are available to rent for $15 per night, $90 a week, or $225 a month.
Pinecrest Lake Resort has a variety of lodging facilities available, including motel
rooms, cabins, and townhouses. Each cabin has a full kitchen and bathroom.
Pinecrest Lake Resort townhouses are available in a two bedroom layout, sleeping six people or with three bedrooms sleeping 8
people. Each unit has a full
kitchen. Townhouse living rooms are complete with
cable television, propane fireplace and couch.
For more information about Pinecrest Lake Resort, see Lodges, Inns, and Resorts
Pinecrest Lake Amenities
- Picnic Area - A large picnic area with 50 tables shaded by trees is adjacent to the swimming
beach on the west end of Pinecrest Lake.
- Bicycle Rentals - The Hub, near the stores in Pinecrest, rents bicycles for $8 an hour for children, $10 for adults.
All-day rentals run $30 and $35. The Hub also rents bikes for just about any time range. They rent strollers and bike trailers.
- Amphitheater - The amphitheater, located next to the picnic area, is used for Ranger programs,
outdoor movies, and Sunday church services.
- Fishing Dock - The fishing dock is on the southwest corner of the lake, providing a safe area
for children to try their luck catching rainbow trout.
- Stores - A cluster of stores just west of the lake include a grocery, post office, sporting goods, coffee kiosk, the
Steam Donkey Restaurant, and bicycle rentals.
- Art Gallery - The art gallery is upstairs above the Pinecrest Lake Resort office next to
the bicycle rental area.
- Hot Showers - $5 at the facility next to the Pinecrest Store.
- RV Waste Disposal - located at the dump, off Highway 108, a half mile west of the Summit Ranger Station.
2014 Pinecrest Visitor Activities and Campfire Programs Schedule
Pinecrest Lake Campgrounds
Pinecrest Campground is located within easy walking distance of Pinecrest Lake. The
campground has 22 tent-only sites and 175 tent or RV sites. Reservations are strongly recommended (877-444-6777).
Typical Pinecrest Campground campsite facilities include a paved parking pad, picnic table and fire ring. The majority of the sites are forested.
Bathrooms have flush toilets, sinks and a utility sink.
No RV hookups area available. There is a dump station available
and water supply. The campground has water faucets with potable water.
Cost: $23 per night
Meadowview Campground is located about a mile from Pinecrest Lake on Dodge Ridge Road. A
paved walking/bicycle path connects Meadowview Campground with Pinecrest Campground and Pinecrest Lake.
Meadowview Campground campsites have paved parking pads, picnic tables and fire rings. the campsites are scattered through forested area.
Bathrooms have flush toilets, sinks and a utility sink. They have 13 tent-only sites and 84 tent or RV sites. No RV hookups area available. The campground
has water faucets with potable water. It is a first come, first served campground.
Cost: $21 per night.
Pioneer Trail Group Campground
Pioneer Trail Group Campground is located about a half mile from Pinecrest Lake by dirt trail and two miles by road.
Pioneer Trail Group Campground is perfect
for groups from 50 to 100 people.
Pioneer Trail Group Campground is divided into three shaded group areas.
No hook-ups or electricity available.
reservations are required during the summer months.
Fishing and Hiking at Pinecrest Lake
Fishing is excellent in Pinecrest Lake from boat or shore. The lake is planted regularly
with rainbow trout. Other good fishing places nearby include the South Fork of the Stanislaus River as it
runs from Pinecrest Lake down through Strawberry and on down toward Lyons Reservoir. Other
nearby fishing destinations include Catfish Lake and Herring Creek Reservoir. Beardsley Reservoir is only
a few miles away.
For more campground information, see Fishing
The 4-mile hike around Pinecrest Lake is the most popular in the area. New restrooms and picnic tables have been installed at the east end of the lake.
Paved bike and walking
trails connect the lake with Pinecrest Campground and Meadowview Campground. The EcoTrek hike begins at the
entrance kiosk to the Pinecrest Campground. You can purchase a map of the trail for $1 there at the kiosk.
Other walks include the Shadow of the Mi-Wok Trail, which begins across the road from the Summit Ranger Station and
the Trail of the Survivors, which is found on the road to Camp Gold, which intersects the Dodge Ridge Road near
Cleo's Bath is a series of natural pools about 1.3 miles upstream from Pinecrest Lake.
To reach Cleo's Bath, follow the lake trail around to the far end of the lake and turn
upstream onto the Cleo's Bath use-trail. In places there are scant trail markers and no actual trai.
It is a strenuous hike with some clambering over rocks.
It takes about 2 hours to reach Cleo's Bath. Use extreme caution whenever entering the water; strong currents and rocks are hazardous.
Catfish Lake is more of a marsh now than a lake, but it makes for a nice day hike. From the
marina hike toward the dam and then turn off on the trail to Catfish Lake. The 2.2-mile
hike climbs a moderate 400 feet in elevation. (See below under Historic Sites for more about
Tuolumne County Water Company Reservoirs
Pinecrest Lake was originally known as Strawberry Lake. It was built in the 1850s to store
water that was later delivered by ditch from a reservoir downstream to mining operations around Sonora. A
series of higher reservoirs were added soon after the Strawberry dam was built. Catfish Lake and two others
near it were part of the system. Two large reservoirs upstream from Pinecrest Lake were established.
By hiking up the South Fork of the Stanislaus Reservoir from Pinecrest Lake you can find the
remnants of the early dams. There is no established trail, however.
The Walker River Emigrant Trail
During the Gold Rush years emigrant wagons came over the mountains south of Sonora Pass and wound their
way down over nearby Burst Rock and then along the top of the ridge at Dodge Ridge Ski Area and down
across the North Fork of the Tuolumne River. From there the emigrant trail led through today's Camp
Gold and up onto the ridge which next to Highway 108. Logging operations have obliterated any remnant
of the trail, however.
For more about the history of the trail and its emigrants, read
Sonora Pass Pioneers
by David H. Johnson, available for purchase at the Summit Ranger Station.
The Pinecrest Chalet, located on the Dodge Ridge Road near Pinecrest, is now owned
by the Cal Alumni Association (University of California at Berkeley). The resort is on the
banks of the North Fork of the Tuolumne River. The Pinecrest Chalet offers
1 to 4 bedroom chalets, prices ranging from $75 to $375 per night.
The chalets have kitchens and televisions, fireplaces, and BBQs.
Strawberry Inn is located on Highway 108 in Strawberry. It provides rooms for rent,
dining, and banquet facilities. It was established in 1939. Knotty pine, a stone fireplace, and
an excellent collection of paintings, sculptures and woodcarvings decorate the Strawberry Inn,
providing an accent to an already beautiful setting.
Across the highway from the Inn is the Strawberry Store which offers basic groceries and fishing supplies.
For more information about the Pinecrest Chalet and the Strawberry Inn, see
Lodges, Inns, and Resorts
Located on the Dodge Ridge Road, Camp Sylvester is a private, non-profit, charitable camp which can
be rented by a variety of organizations, including Scouts, Church Groups, schools and colleges,
large family gatherings (reunions), 4H Clubs, Rotary, or just a gathering of friends. You can rent just a single
cabin for an intimate family gathering or the entire facility for a large group retreat.
It is open year-round and has meeting halls, heated cabins, restroom and showers, and
commercial grade kitchens. It also has an amphitheater stage, BBQ picnic area and campfires. Camp Sylvester can accommodate up to 220
guests on its 7-acre property in the Stanislaus National Forest.
For information or reservations call: (209) 965-3172
Lair of the Golden Bear
Lair of the Golden Bear is operated by the Cal Alumni Association as a mountain
retreat for University of California, Berkeley, alumni, family, and friends. the Lair of the Golden Bear
is divided into three camps: Camp Blue, Camp Gold, and Camp Oski. In Camp Blue
and Camp Gold, campers enjoy weeklong athletic tournaments,
striving for highly-coveted Lair trophies at the end of the week. At Camp Oski, campers enjoy a smaller, more intimate camp experience,
which includes fewer total campers, tent circle campfires, and fantastic facilities such as a lap pool and sand volleyball.
Lair of the Golden Bear
offers family camps
of various time ranges, adult camps, and an adults only sports and recreation week.
Lair of the Golden Bear is located just west of Pinecrest. The main Camp Blue access road is
off Highway 108 while the Camp Gold and Camp Oski access roads are off the Dodge Ridge Road.
Phone: (510) 642-0221
Toll-free: 888.CAL.ALUM (888.225.2586)
Camp Chinquapin is a Christian camp, a ministry of First Baptist Church of
Modesto. The camp is located on the Dodge Ridge Road,
not far from Pinecrest. Chinquapin's cabins, recreational vehicle pads and tent areas border
the North Fork of the Tuolumne River. The camp is available for youth and children's camps,
couples retreats, family retreats, men's and women's retreats and conferences.
Camp Chinquapin has a lodge, a dining hall, central fire ring, amphitheater, and
outdoor chapel. It offers a variety of sports activities, including a climbing wall, basketball court,
Phone: (209) 965-3223