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The Stanislaus National Forest, where you can fish in over 800 miles of rivers and streams, 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 Tuolumne River, or canoe one of the many gorgeous lakes. You can ride a horse, a mountain bike or a snowmobile.

During the gold rush, the area that would become the Stanislaus National Forest was a busy place, occupied by miners and other immigrants, homesteaders and ranchers, dam builders and loggers. Several railroads were constructed to haul logs out of the woods. Evidence of these activities still exist.

The Stanislaus National Forest (Forest) encompasses 898,099 acres on the western slope of the Sierra Nevada; California’s snow capped mountain range that flanks the Great Central Valley. Located between Lake Tahoe and Yosemite, the Forest landscape is a continuum of natural and scenic beauty that defines the Sierra. Amid soaring crests, sparkling mountain lakes, towering forests, and canyons carved by cool rushing rivers, visitors discover connections with nature and the spirit of the Sierra Nevada. A mere two hour drive from the Great Central Valley and three hours from the San Francisco Bay Area, makes the Forest a very popular destination place.

The mountains were shaped by volcanic and glacial action, producing rugged and spectacular topography at high elevations. Each elevation, from 1,500 to over 11,000 feet above sea level, has its own unique vegetation, wildlife, and corresponding temperatures. While the lower elevations are hot and dry, the higher elevation’s lush meadows are cooled by melting snow. Here you will find Sierra mixed conifer, true fir, lodge pole pine and sub alpine vegetation. Bald eagle, peregrine falcon and wolverine have all been reported on the Forest.

The Forest has four Ranger Districts divided along three highway corridors: route 120 to the south (Groveland District), Route 108 along the middle fork of the Stanislaus River (Mi-Wok and Summit Ranger Districts), and Route 4 to the north (Calaveras Ranger District). Highway 4 is a designated Scenic Byway, Highways 108 and 120 have the potential to become designated. Each highway corridor represents a unique interpretive and education opportunity from giant sequoias to wild rivers.

Major Areas of Recreation:

HWY 4

Highway 4 crosses Ebbetts Pass at 8,735 feet in elevation. The drive across the pass offers motorists magnificent panoramic views of the high Sierra, from the spectacular Folger Peak ridge on the west side of the summit to the breathtaking drop into the Silver Creek canyon on the east. Those who pause to explore the open high country on either side of the pass are rewarded with two beautiful clusters of lakes – Highland Lakes  on the west side and Kinney Lakes on the east. At the top of the pass runs the Pacific Crest Trail, leading away north and south into the wilderness. Along HWY 4 Visitors also explore the Bear Valley and Calaveras Big Tree State Park.

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HWY 120

Highway 120 provides year-round access to Central Sierra Nevada Mountains. The highway traverses the southern portion of the Stanislaus National Forest, between the elevations of 2,800 and 4,700 feet. The highway continues through Yosemite National Park, eventually reaching an elevation of 9,943 feet at Tioga Pass, which is subject to annual winter closure.

HWY 108

The Scenic Highway 108 Sonora Pass route begins at an elevation of about 3,000 feet, and rises to an elevation of 9,628 feet above sea level.  The pass connects the communities of Sonora to the west and Bridgeport to the east.  Like Most high elevation passes across the Sierra Nevada, the highway is closed in the winter, generally between November and May, due to large quantities of snow.

The highway over the pass is extremely steep, narrow and winding between Kennedy Meadows on the west side to Leavitt Meadows on the east.  The route is not recommended for vehicles or vehicle combinations that are unusally wide, heavy or long.  Adjacent to the summit of the pass is a picnic/parking area to nearby Sonora Peak, Wolf Creek Lake, and other spots north or south along the Pacific Crest Trail.

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Stanislaus National Forest Recreation

Campground Camping Areas

Campgrounds – Highway 108 Corridor– Campgrounds along highway 108

Summit Ranger District Campgrounds

The Summit Ranger District, which encompasses the upper Highway 108 corridor on the Stanislaus National Forest. Large motor homes and trailers cannot be accommodated in some campgrounds. Electric and sewer hookups are not available. Fee RV dump stations are available at Clark Fork Campground, Dardanelle Resort and near Pinecrest on Highway 108 (closed on Sunday), one-half mile west of Summit Ranger District office. For the most current information please call the Summit Ranger District at (209) 965-3434, or stop by the office on Highway 108 at the turn-off to Pinecrest Recreation Area.

Highway 120 Corridor

Highway 120 provides year-round access to Central Sierra Nevada Mountains. The highway traverses the southern portion of the Stanislaus National Forest, between the elevations of 2,800 and 4,700 feet. The highway continues through Yosemite National Park, eventually reaching an elevation of 9,943 feet at Tioga Pass, which is subject to annual winter closure.

The Groveland Ranger District encompasses the Highway 120 corridor on the Stanislaus National Forest. For the most current information please call the Groveland Ranger District at (209) 962-7825, or stop by our office on Highway 120.

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Campgrounds – Highway 120 Corridor

  • Situated in the Central Sierra Nevada Mountains, the Groveland Ranger District offers many beautiful sites for camping in a variety of settings. The Groveland Ranger District manages eight campgrounds within the Highway 120 Corridor. All campgrounds offer vault toilets, tables, grills and fire rings. Large motor homes and trailers cannot be accommodated in some campgrounds, and electric and sewer hookups are not available.

Highway 4 Corridor

Welcome to the Calaveras Ranger District, which encompasses the Highway 4 corridor in the northwest portion of the Stanislaus National Forest. For more information please call the Calaveras Ranger District at 209-795-1381.

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Campgrounds – Highway 4 Corridor

Large motor homes and trailers cannot be accommodated in some campgrounds, and electric and sewer hookups are not available.

Day Hiking Areas

Highway 108 Corridor

Trails – Highway 108 Corridor

Highway 120 Corridor

Highway 4 Corridor