Seasons in Pinecrest Lake CA
The experience of Pinecrest depends upon the season.
Summer is the peak season, with much activity. The marina at Pinecrest is open from
May to October (closing date for 2010 is October 8 verify).
In winter the lake is largely drained and often covered with snow. Activity moves mostly
to Dodge Ridge Wintersports area, Leland Meadows Snowplay, and other areas for snowplaying.
A few diehard ice fishermen.
Spring and Fall.
In the spring and fall the area is beautiful and relatively quiet and unpopulated, with visitors
apparently too busy with their lives in the city to realize that this is often the best time to come here.
Areas in Pinecrest Lake Cold Springs.
This tiny town, on Hwy 108, has a general store/gas station, two restaurants, and a ski shop.
This town, on Hwy 108, which the South Fork of the Stanislaus River flows through, has a lodge and restaurant,
a general store, and many vacation rentals.
This area has a pack station and hiking (and cross-country skiing and snowshoeing) trails.
This area, next to the Stanislaus River has a campground and hiking (and cross-country skiing and snowshoeing) trails.
This area has Beardsley Reservoir, with fishing and boating, including water skiing (verify).
This area has a snowplay area with sledding, tubing, and the like.
This area has downhill and cross-country skiing, snowboarding, and snowplay. It also has restrauants and rental cabins.
This area, one mile off of Hwy 108, has Pinecrest Lake, with fishing, many kinds of boating, a sandy beach with swimming.
It has a tiny town with a general store, post office, sports/fishing tackle shop, expresso bar,
a restaurant/bar, bicycle rentals, and an art gallery. There are campgrounds, rental cabins, and
rental rooms. There is a ranger station on Hwy 108 on the turnoff to Pinecrest Lake.
Map Based Guide to
explore the different areas in Pinecrest, with its pop-up photos as you move the mouse giving
you a sense like walking down the road.
History of Pinecrest CA
Although Pinecrest is too far from the Mother Lode vein to have gold itself, the Gold Rush
brought activity here because of the need for water to wash the gold out of gravel and dirt
retrieved from the creeks in the foothills. Aqueducts were built high up in the forest to tap the water of the
Stanislaus River and take it to the foothills. Much of this aqueduct system remains and is
used as the main water system for the area. A large part of the aqueduct in the forest was built with wooden flumes,
and builders carried portable sawmills into the forest to saw up trees into boards to construct the flumes.
Later, in the late 1800s, permanent sawmills were built in the Pinecrest area, with lumber transported by wagon trains pulled by large teams of
The sawmills in the forest were eventually shut down after the Sugar Pine Railroad was built in the
early 1900s. This line went from Standard, in the
foothills east of Sonora, up into the forest through what is now Twain Harte and up to Strawberry. The right-of-way is now used as a hiking trail.
Timber was transported to a sawmill in Standard and the resulting lumber transported to the
San Francisco Bay Area and elsewhere via the Sierra Railway, which as built in 1897.
Wildlife in Pinecrest
You'll likely see the ubiquitous gray squirrels, who live in the tops of the trees here. You'll hear and
perhaps see the smaller Douglas squirrels, also known as "chickarees" for their chattering. Raccoons and flying squirrels come out at night. There are chipmonks a little higher up in the forest, especially at Donnell.
You may also see mule deer and sometimes gray foxes. Black bears and cougars (mountain lions) are
also in the area but avoid humans. You are also likely to see ravens and Steller jays (a medium sized
bird with deep blue feathers and a black head that does not migrate). In the summer you will see many smaller migratory
birds in the spring and summer. Red-tailed hawks can also be seen.
Pinecrest is in the high country along the Highway 108 corridor. On your way here you
will pass through the foothills, near towns including
Twain Harte and
Mi Wuk Village
in the high country.
Lake fishing is available at Pinecrest Lake and Beardsley Reservoir, while stream fishing can
be done in the Stanislaus River and the many creeks and streams that feed into it.
Pinecrest Lake has a marina with a boat launch ramp and outboard fishing boats for rent.
The lake is stocked, with, for example, 51,184 rainbow trout planted for the year through September 2, 2010.
See the blackboards at the marina and at the sports shop for information on plantings and on
where in the lake fishing are being caught and with what. Bank fishing is popular around the lake (not allowed at the beach or
marina), especially near the dam.
Beardsley Reservoir also has a boat launch ramp, and is stocked with trout.
Click on the play button below to see a 16-second video of stocking trout into Pinecrest Lake. The fish
were raised in the hatchery at Moccasin.
Other Activities at Pinecrest Lake
The marina also rents sailboats, party boats, paddle boats, and kayaks. A relatively large
sandy beach at the south end of the lake allows sunbathing, picnicking, wading, and swimming.
A hiking trail runs all the way around the lake.
Bicycles can be rented, and there are bicycle trails south of the lake.