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California > Stanislaus National Forest
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Stanislaus National Forest

Calaveras Ranger District- The Calaveras Ranger District, located in the northwest corner of Stanislaus National Forest, features 18 campgrounds.
Groveland Ranger District- Groveland Ranger District features eight developed campgrounds, two picnic grounds, seven maintained hiking trails, Cherry Lake - the largest lake in the Forest, and a 29 mile section of the Tuolumne Wild and Scenic River complete with a boat launch and twelve undeveloped campgrounds.
Mi-Wok Ranger District- The Mi-Wok Ranger District encompasses the lower Highway 108 corridor of the Stanislaus National Forest. The District features six developed campgrounds, two picnic grounds, two hiking trails, one mountain biking trail, and three OHV riding areas.
Pacific Crest Trail- From desert to glacier-flanked mountain, meadow to forest, the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) symbolizes everything there is to love - and protect - in the Western United States.
Summit Ranger District- The Summit Ranger District, located in the northeast corner of Stanislaus National Forest and to the west of Toiyabe National Forest, features 17 campgrounds.

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General Information

Tuolumne River, Stanislaus National Forest
Copyright: Geri Ward - US Forest Service
Tuolumne River, Stanislaus National Forest
Description - On the Stanislaus National Forest, you can fish in over 800 miles of rivers and streams, enjoy a comfortable cabin, stay in a campground, or hike into the backcountry seeking pristine solitude. You can swim near a sandy beach or wade into cold clear streams cooling your feet while lost in the beauty of nature, raft the exciting and breathtaking Tuolumne River, or canoe one of the many gorgeous lakes. You can ride a horse, a mountain bike or a snowmobile.

The Stanislaus is home to 811 miles of rivers and streams and 18 fish species. Common species include rainbow, Eastern brook and German Brown trout, and salmon. The Stanislaus contains 29 miles of the Tuolumne Wild and Scenic River and 11 miles of the Merced Wild and Scenic River. The Forest has many lakes and reservoirs for the swimmer and boat enthusiast. The Emigrant Wilderness and portions of the Carson-Iceberg and Mokelumne Wildernesses are located on the Stanislaus.

Recreation - Camping is one of the most popular recreation activities in the Stanislaus National Forest. The ideal camping time in most Forest areas is May to October, prior to winter storm activity. Although limited, reservation campgrounds are available, however the majority of Forest campgrounds are operated on a first-come, first serve system.

Fishing is available in many streams, rivers and lakes throughout the Forest. Portions of Basin Creek, Beaver Creek, Deadman Creek, Lyons Reservoir, Moccasin Creek, and the Stanislaus, Clark Fork, and Tuolumne Rivers are usually stocked with fish each year. The hundreds of lakes and streams in the Emigrant Wilderness are also good trout fishing areas. Cherry and Beardsley Lakes are well-suited for motorized boats and water-skiing. The smaller lakes such Pinecrest and Lake Alpine are more suitable for sailboats and canoes.

Aquamarine lakes and streams, wildflowers, spectacular vistas, and unique geological formations await hikers and nature lovers in the Stanislaus National Forest. Hikers, horseback riders, and backpackers have 480 miles of trails, and over 1000 miles of unsurfaced roads available for their use and enjoyment.

Whitewater enthusiasts might consider a trip down the Tuolumne Wild and Scenic River on the Groveland Ranger District, or the North Fork Stanislaus River on the Calaveras Ranger District. Both rivers are very technical (Class IV and V) and suited for experienced boaters. You can organize a rafting trip on your own, or arrange a trip with a commercial rafting company.

The Stanislaus National Forest offers many opportunities for off-highway vehicles (OHVs) including four-wheel drives, ATVs and motorcycles. Off-highway travel is restricted to designated routes.

Whether your idea of winter fun is skiing, snow play or snowmobiling, the Stanislaus National Forest has many areas for winter sports. Two ski areas operate under special use permits on the Forest: Bear Valley via Highway 4; and, Dodge Ridge via Highway 108. Several Nordic ski trails, of varying difficulty, exist at Bear Valley on Highway 4 and near Pinecrest on Highway 108. Many other Forest roads also provide excellent Nordic skiing opportunities.

Climate - A Mediterranean type climate extends over most of the Forest with warm, dry summers and cold, wet winters. Weather can change rapidly during all seasons of the year. Elevation plays a major role in temperature and precipitation. This precipitation falls mainly from October through April. At higher elevations, it comes mostly in the form of snow. A snowpack from 5-10 feet or more is usually present from December to May at elevations above 6,500 feet. Winter temperatures below zero and summer temperatures above 100 degrees indicate the normal seasonal spread.
Clouds can build up during the summer to produce spectacular thunderstorm activity. It is wise to pack for any season with clothing that can be "layered", ready to peel off or add on as the thermometer dictates. Always include some kind of rain gear.

Location - The Stanislaus lies in the central Sierra Nevada Mountains in east-central California, between the Mokelumne and the Merced Rivers. It is headquartered in the town of Sonora. The Forest forms the northeast boundary of Yosemite National Park.

Current Conditions & Trip Reports

Trip Reports:
Add your own trip Report! Newly re-released feature. One of the most popular features on Wildernet, trip reports allow you to share your experiences with others. This is an invaluable resource for determining what to expect on your outdoor adventure, so please participate! To prevent spamming, you must be a registered user of Wildernet in order to submit a trip report

Filed By: Skip Post (Houston, TX)
Number of People Encountered: 0-10 ppl
Recommend to a Friend: Highly
Report: I went to visit my brother in Oakdale, CA. for alittle high country trout fishing. He fishes Kennedy Meadows and throughout that area so he knows how beautiful that country is. Having been in Houston for twenty years I have forgotten how great Gods country is. We started fishing at Kennedy Meadows and wound up hiking to Relief Lake. The trail was easy to follow and not that steep for a city slicker. When we got to Relief Lake the view was unbelievable. What started out as a fishing trip wound out to be a hike into some of the most beautiful country there is. After that day we are making plans to backpack even further into the back country next year. I highly recommend a trip to that part of the country.

Filed By: Paul Sterngold (Alameda, CA)
Number of People Encountered: 11-25 ppl
Recommend to a Friend: Highly
Report: A friend and I took a three day backpacking trip from Leavitt Lake to High Emigrant Lake. This area is spectacularly beautiful, with plenty of water in the streams even in mid-July. The hike from the trailhead to High Emigrant Lake is about 9 miles, but what makes it tough are the two 1000'+ climbs and two equal descents. But the views from the top of Big Sam are among the best in the Sierras. If you don't want to cover the entire 9 miles in a single day, you can spend a night at the head of Kennedy Canyon. Still, it makes a nice three-day trip, with a layover day at the lake. Fishing at High Emigrant Lake was great, although I brought the wrong fly case and only hooked and fought one trout, about 14', who broke my leader and got away. Other anglers at the lake were rewarded with several fish of this size. One person reported catching a 16-incher on a spinner. On our layover day, we hiked down to Emigrant Meadow Lake and into the meadow, and then did the easy though somewhat steep climb up the unnamed peak on the meadow's western edge. Again, the views were spectacular and breathtaking. By the way, the meadow and lake both look like prime fishing areas. And the wildflowers were everywhere and beautiful. We encountered several groups of hikers along the way, including a couple of through-hikers, one doing the Tahoe-Yosemite trail, another doing the JMT. We also met a couple who had started the PCT at the Mexican border in April and were on their way to the Canadian border- wow! We camped alone at High Emigrant Lake the first night but a group of four hikers joined us the second night. Believe it or not, they had some sort of stereo with them and were inconsiderate enough to play music in the afternoon and evening. We would've asked them to turn it off, but we were leaving early the next morning so we let it slide. There are numerous alternate trails and further destinations to explore from this region. I highly recommend it, the payoff for the first tough day can't be beat.

Filed By: kimberli (angels camp, ca)
Number of People Encountered: 0-10 ppl
Recommend to a Friend: Highly
Report: I take my horses up to the Stanislaus National Forest as soon as the snow melts! Its a great place to get away from small town hustle and bustle. Some spots on the trails are built up with massive granite. If you don't have a horse used to walking across pads of this it is not wise to bring them, but for those as myself who love the climbing challenge and a good horse, will enjoy it! My favorite trail so far is the Stanislaus Meadow TH to Bull Run Lake. It is just off of Hwy 4 and about 4 miles one way. The trail is very well marked. Once you get to this lake it's Gods country! It sits in a huge granite bowl and the lake is crystal blue clear. There is usually 3 or so more camping groups there but to get away for a day ride its wonderful. If you plan to stay the night with your stock just be wise to get an overnite permit and follow the stock user rules.

More Information

Contact Information:
Stanislaus National Forest, 19777 Greenley Road , Sonora, CA, 95370, Phone: 209-532-3671

Additional Information:
California National Forests & Parks - California's National Parks, Monuments and Forests cover lands from the Pacific Ocean to the crest of the Sierra Nevada Mountains.
High Sierra Region -
Northern California -

Stanislaus National Forest - Official agency website.


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