Pinecrest is a resort town located in the Stanislaus National Forest. It has a mountain lake, Pinecrest Lake, that is popular for swimming, fishing, boating, and sunbathing (it has a small beach). Cabins and campgrounds are available. The lakes, streams, and rivers in the area were originally part of an elaborate wooden flume and ditch system built during the Gold Rush to provide water for washing gold in placer mining. Pinecrest Lake was originally known as Strawberry Lake. The dam that forms the lake is known as Strawberry Dam. Pinecrest and nearby Cold Springs and Strawberry are a small cluster of resort towns at roughly the 5000 foot elevation level along Highway 108.
Pinecrest is reached by traveling on Highway 108 from the Central Valley of California (e.g., Modesto) into Tuolumne County and past the foothills city of Sonora into the forest. Pinecrest is about 30 miles northeast of Sonora and 10 miles northeast of Mi-Wuk village. Except in winter, when Highway 108 over Sonora Pass is closed, Pinecrest can be reached from the eastern high desert by driving west from Highway 395 on Highway 108 over Sonora Pass. Fron Highway 108, turn (right if heading east on 108) onto Pinecrest Lake Road and go about two miles to the lake and resort itself.
The Pinecrest area, once you get to the lake and resort area, is pedestrian oriented. Walk or ride a bicycle. It generally requires a car to go to nearby areas such as Cold Springs, Strawberry, or Dodge Ridge, although some use a bicycle.
See Pinecrest Lake, the trees, the mountains behind the lake. See many squirrels, the occasional raccoon, and the very occasional black bear. (The bears are around, but shy.)
In summer: Fish for trout in the lake, either from the bank or a boat. Rent a kayak, a party boat, a paddle boat, or a motorboat. Hike around the lake and see Strawberry Dam. In winter: Go skiing, snowboarding, or snowshoeing in nearby Dodge Ride Ski Area, or the Leland Meadows Snowplay Area.
Shops mostly sell winter clothing, snow gear such as sleds and toboggans, and fishing tackle, and rent skis, snowboards, boots and the like.
In Pinecrest: At the Steam Donkey Cafe, expresso at a nearby stand, at the snack bar near the beach and marina. At Dodge Ridge: During winter, at the food court. In Strawberry: At the Strawberry Inn, at the junction of Highway 108 and the Stanislaus River. In Cold Springs: At the Mexican restaurant or at the new Mia's brick oven pizza and specialties.
Cabins at Strawberry in Strawberry. At rental cabins or the Strawberry Inn.
In summer, continue on Highway 108 to Dardenelle, Kennedy Meadow, and Sonora Pass.