Well Known by Locals who want to be out on a lake but away from the crowd. Unfortunately as reported here Beardsley Day Use Road has been closed since early 2017 (Forest Road 4N29). Following a storm in February of that year, two sections of the road, approximately 100 yards apart, failed to the point where the road became unsafe.
The Community Resources Agency reported in 2019 that the project, being overseen by the Forest Service, qualified for Federal Highway Administration funding. However, due to the complexity of the damage, the Forest Service had to hire a civil engineering firm to do a site survey and geotechnical investigation. Forest Service Engineers are now working with the data to plan the repairs. The schedule is tentative on a contract being awarded, but the construction will likely take until the Fall of 2020.
For day use, camping, or fishing Beardsley is a lovely secluded place to enjoy summer! Beardsley is 7 miles from Highway 108 on the steep and winding Beardsley Road. The reservoir is a dammed section of the Middle Fork of Stanislaus River. It is open all year but the road is often closed in the winter. There is a boat launch ramp and water skiing on the lake is phenomenal.
Camping at Beardsley
Beardsley Campground has around 26 campsites open on a first-come, first-served basis during the season (May to October) The day use area has stoves, tables, flush toilets, a nature trail and great places to fish from. For more campgrounds in the area check out the camping section in the recreation guide.
Fishing on the Stanislaus
At this elevation of the Stanislaus River you can catch rainbow trout, eastern brook trout, and german brown trout. There is more about fishing in the recreation guide.
Five miles upstream from Beardsley Reservoir on 5N09X or the nine mile 4,700′ dirt road. High clearance vehicles are recommended for travel on this road. No facilities are provided for boating and the steep shoreline limits access to only small portions of the shoreline. You can acquire a camping permit and hike into the lake, dispersed camping is allowed under the rules for other areas of the Stanislaus National Forest.
For the Perfect View
You can see Donnells from the Donnells Overlook about 15 miles east of Strawberry on Highway 108. The US Forest Service developed the site with a 1/4 mile paved trail with signs along the way, that lead to an overlook with sweeping views of the Middle Fork Stanislaus River Canyon and Donnell Reservoir.
Both Beardsley and Donnells are operated by the Tri-Dam Project. The project is a partnership between the Oakdale Irrigation District and the South San Joaquin Irrigation District. The Tri-Dam Project also manage Lake Tulloch (reservoir).