Looking for a quick mountain paddle without the long drive to Lake Tahoe? One of your favorite ski resorts may be the answer. Pinecrest isn’t just home to local favorite ski resort Dodge Ridge, it’s also home to some terrific summer activities at Pinecrest Lake. Located about 3 hours away from San Francisco, Pinecrest Lake is a beautiful alpine lake with 300 acres of water to explore.
What Makes It Great
Pinecrest generally has calm waters that make paddling accessible for all ages and skill levels providing fun for the whole family. You can rent SUPs, boats, kayaks, and other watercraft right on the lake and Heidi’s ski shop on the way into Pinecrest also does SUP rentals making it convenient if you don’t own your own boards.
While you’re on your board, you’ll be treated to stunning lake views, massive rock formations, and of course the cedar and pines that surround the area. You may also even catch some glimpses of squirrels, raccoons, mule deer, and sometimes grey foxes. In addition to several species of birds.If you’re up for fishing off of your board, the lake is regularly stocked with rainbow trout.
There is a marina for rentals, restrooms, a walk-up snack shop (get the ice-cream cones), and a campground next to the lake if you are looking for a multi-day trip.
Besides the water activities, there is a 4 mile hiking trail around the lake and south of the lake there are bike trails for some land-based fun.
Who is Going to Love It
Pine Crest is a great place for a 3-day vacation (or longer) for those ready to truly escape the trappings of the city. The lake is wonderful for peaceful paddling and it's a fine destination for families.
Directions, Parking, & Regulations
From the Bay Area take 99 to CA-120 E. Once you reach Oakdale, you’ll continue East on CA-108 until you reach Pinecrest Lake Rd. Take a slight right and continue driving until you reach the lake. For more information, check out the visitor’s guide at the Pine Crest Lake website.