steady on the tree bridge
This is a nice, short hike amid the pines, away from most of the hustle and bustle of the Pinecrest Reservoir. As an added bonus, the trail leads to the small town of Strawberry and a bar! Apparently this trail can sometimes be hard to follow, but my group had no trouble at all and there are orange blazes on some trees. But in general, you just follow the lakeshore and river. It looked like there were some nice fishing spots with sizable trout along the way. So bring along a pole and some money for a beer and snacks.
The hike starts near the Pinecrest Reservoir Marina, on the four mile lake loop trail. You follow the loop trail north, dodging the many humans fishing and meandering around the lake, for maybe .25-.33 miles. Immediately across the dam the unsigned trail to Strawberry branches off to the left and descends down to the Stanislaus River. (To continue on the lake loop, you would follow the trail straight, up a slight incline.)
The grade of the descent is a little steep and the footing a little loose, but it is completely doable without poles - just watch your footing. A little ways down, the trail forks again, but it doesn't matter which one way you take as they join up again after 100-200 yards.
At a couple points you will see trees bridging the river. About a mile in, the trail leads directly to one of these trees and there is a rope set up to help steady you across. Soon after this you will come to a dirt road. Take a left onto this and head toward some cabins and a paved road. Follow this about a quarter of a mile until you come to the Strawberry general store and Sonora Pass, and a bar across the street. Return the way you came.
WARNING! Hiking and outdoor related sports can be dangerous. Be responsible and prepare for the trip. Study the area you are entering and plan accordingly. Dress for the current and unexpected weather changes. Take plenty of water. Never go alone. Make an itinerary with your plan(s), route(s), destination(s) and expected return time. Give your itinerary to trusted family and/or friends.