Thunderheads over Herring Creek Reservoir

Herring Creek Reservoir to Bloomer Lake is a moderate level 5.8 mile one-way hike in the Stanislaus National Forest. The entire length of the hike follows Herring Creek and traverses through Hammill Canyon which offers spectacular views of the surrounding peaks as well as several serene meadows that come alive with wildflowers in the summer months. Parts of the hike pass through small stands of Aspen trees which show off their brilliant colors in the Fall. The total elevation change for this hike is just over 1000 ft with a 500-ft gain in the first four miles and another 500-ft gain in the next 1.5 miles. The final 1/4 mile to Bloomer Lake is relatively flat.


This hike begins at the parking area in the Herring Reservoir Campground at the gate on FR 5N50Y. To begin the hike head east around the gate and follow the Forest Road to the north side of the lake. Several spur trails head off to the right which lead to the shores of Herring Creek Reservoir. When full this lake is beautiful and definitely worth a stop. To continue the hike follow the Forest Road to the northeast side of the lake which eventually transitions into a foot path. Once you reach the head waters to the reservoir, or Herring Creek, the trail immediately begins following the northwest side of the creek. The next few miles slowly climb in elevation along this meandering stream. For the most part the trail is easy to follow except for one section where you must traverse over big granite rocks and the best way to stay on track is follow the rock stacks. The final ascent to FR 4N12 is the steepest part of the hike and is moderately exposed so it can get hot in the summer months. Once you reach 4N12 head right (southwest) for about 150 yards until you get to a dispersed camping site on your left. From here a lightly traveled foot path leads you to Bloomer Lake.

Arriving at Bloomer Lake, a natural seasonal lake, you’ll find magnificent craggy peaks lined with evergreen forest, a vast meadow of corn lilies and thick, luscious green grasses. The lake, which feeds Herring Creek, is shallow and marshy and may be difficult to reach the water lined when it is low. Keep this in mind if you’re looking to rehydrate the pooch. This is an ideal spot to relax and refuel while taking in the gorgeous scenery. When you’re ready to head back just retrace your steps.

Herring Creek Reservoir is at an elevation of 7300′ so access to this hike is restricted to the months of June to October because of snow in the winter months. The opening and closure dates will vary depending on the season so check with the Summit Ranger District for area status (209) 965-3434.

Trail Specifics

  • Difficulty: moderate
  • Distance: 5.8 mile one-way
  • Elevation Change: 1050 ft.
  • Best Season: July thru Oct.
  • Open To: hikers, bikers
  • Dogs: yes
  • Hrs of Operation: seasonal closures Nov-May (varies)
  • Fees: none
  • Managed By: Summit Ranger District

Herring Creek Reservoir to Bloomer Lake Photo Gallery

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