Pinecrest Chalet: Family Getaway to the pines

This stay was hosted by Pinecrest Chalet but all opinions are my own.

Growing up, the woods were my favorite. My dad, who is also an avid lover of the forest, would take me camping, backpacking, fishing, and hiking constantly. Some of my favorite memories with him are in the Stanislaus National Forest. When we had kids, I knew I wanted them to grow up going to the lake, camping, and experiencing all the beautiful wonders of our beautiful forest. This summer I made a promise that we would go on as many adventures as possible. Our son, who was actually born in DFW, Texas area, is a mountain boy at heart. When he steps out into the forest, he is at home. It’s truly extraordinary the glow and happiness in his eyes. As the kids get older and we travel more, we also try to travel close to home visiting more local spots. As a kid, Pinecrest Lake was my favorite. A quick drive away, the beautiful lake sits surrounded by beautiful mountain landscape and big, one of kind trees. The lake offers a little bit for everyone including an outdoor movie theater, boat launches(and rentals), hiking trails, fishing, and nice sandy beach areas. There are many fur friendly spots as well. Back in the early 2000’s, my grandmother brought me to Pinecrest Chalet and ever since it has been a place I dreamt of returning to. After returning from our last trip down to Southern California and taking some much needed rest time, it dawned on me that we should have a fun mini vacation to Pinecrest Lake. Of course, we couldn’t stay anywhere but the Pinecrest Chalet. Although the kids love the outdoors, Matthew is a city boy and wasn’t to excited over the idea of tent camping for a few days with two toddlers just yet. The Pinecrest Chalet began as a 3 story dorm room with a separate outhouse and kitchen in 1952. In 2009, the Cal Alumni Association of UC Berkeley took over the resort. All their staff is friendly and so inviting, making it for a one of a kind experience. The Pinecrest Chalet offers 23 furnished studios, cabins, and townhouses that can sleep up to 14 people. They even have RV sites with hook ups which make for a great spot to bring your trailer or RV. Each studio, cabin, and townhouse offers a full kitchen, TV, deck with barbecue, gas fireplace, and a sense of home away from home all while being surrounded by the magnificent forest. When we arrived, we checked into the main lobby as we were greeted with a friendly smile. You are able to rent movies for free as well as purchase a snack or even a few things you may have forgotten conveniently in the lobby. After getting our keys, we made our way to our studio cabin. We had the pleasure of staying in Juniper and we loved every moment of it. As we opened the door, we were met with a beautiful cabin style room with two comfy queen beds, a beautiful fireplace, and full kitchen. The bathroom was spacious and the kids took no time making their way to the deck through the sliding glass doors. Out onto the deck, the forest truly became our reality as the smell of fresh pine and crisp air hit us. Looking down you could ever so slightly see the North Fork Tulumne River. The kids decided it was time to hit up the pool so we of course couldn’t resist. After some fun, we made dinner then went down to one of the many fire pits to roast some marshmallows. Before heading off to bed, we all read a fun book and shared some giggles. The kids surprisingly slept in past 7am and we woke up to more giddy laughs. I enjoyed some fresh “camp” coffee using the French press as Matthew made us his famous breakfast burritos. After breakfast we headed to the lake and spent the day unplugging from the rest of the world. Boy did it feel nice! We swam in the lake(although a tad cold this time of year), grabbed some ice cream from the snack shack, fished a little, and just soaked in a little vitamin D. After, we made the quick 1.5 mile drive back to Pinecrest Chalet and enjoyed the rest of the day hiking a few easy trails, playing in the activity den, and swimming in the pool some more. After we headed back the chalet and made dinner. I love being able to stop at the grocery store before heading to a destination and having the freedom of cooking just like at home, especially when traveling with kids. Our trip sadly came to an end the next day and we went back to reality after a few hours at the lake, but it was some much needed family time. The Pinecrest Chalet was everything we had hoped for and more making for a perfect trip the pines with the kids to kick off the offices start of summer.

All the Pinecrest Chalet offers:

•Complimentary WiFi. The only cell service available will be from Verizon so if you are like us and have ATT, enjoy the time to unplug!

•A community pool that is temp controlled.

•Play area with a basketball hoop, horseshoes, and even a little playground with swings for kids.

•The activity den is filled with board games, VHS tapes(brought me back to my childhood for sure, so fun!), books, and crafts.

•Beautiful trails close by ranging from easy to hard.(see book in room for list and information)

•Full kitchen, TV with cable, and barbecue.

•Stunning views.

•Wedding venue options. It would be my top choice in Tuolumne county to get married or even to renew vows!

•Take a class or two. During certain months of the year Pinecrest Chalet offers fun classes such as rock climbing and archery.

Less than 2 miles from lake, market, bike and boat rentals, outdoor movie theater, fishing, and Steam Donkey restaurant.

In the winter months, Dodge Ridge Ski resort right up the road.

No matter if you plan to just stay for a night or two or a whole week, the Pinecrest Chalet is the best place in the Pinecrest area. Grab a book and relax on the deck listening to the birds chirp away. Wake up and make breakfast before heading to a fun filled day at Pinecrest Lake. Find a hike and hit the trails. Stay on the property and maybe even take a class or two in between relaxing by the pool. Whatever your plans may be, they surely will be fun. Our family can’t imagine staying anywhere else while visiting Pinecrest Lake and we can’t wait to come back!

Where is your favorite mountain escape? Have you ever visited the Pinecrest Chalet?


Christian Mulkey

1 thought on “Pinecrest Chalet: Family Getaway to the pines

  1. Loved the article dear! This place looks like an amazing escape!


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