Pinnacles National Park

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  • Main attractions: Condors and spring wildflowers.
  • Don't forget: headlight, mosquito repellent, long pants
  • Information on Pinnacles
  • Hiking in Pinnacles
  • Pinnacles location
  • Weather forecast
  • Note: The lower half of the Bear Gulch Cave is open from mid-July through mid-May each year. The entire cave is closed from mid-May to mid-July while the bats are raising their young.
  • Note: the West Nile Virus was discovered in Pinnacles National Monument in September 2004
    Camping
    • Camping in this region is not easy. Government bureaucracy and capitalist greed are at their worst
    • Pinnacles campgrounds (possibly the most expensive campground in the world)
    • Bolado Park: camping only if you show up before 5pm. From Hwy 101 going south: Take Hwy 25 (Hollister/Pinnacles) exit and go back over the freeway. Approaching Hollister, turn left on Wright Rd. (shortly before 156/25 intersection), which turns into McCloskey. At the end of McCloskey, turn Right onto Fairview. Continue to 4-way stop and turn left on Hwy 25/Airline Highway. Continue past Tres Pinos to Bolado Park (San Benito Cty Fairgrounds).
    • Arroyo Seco Campground 877-444-6777 (first come, first served, $20 in 2006) is located in the Carmel Valley outside of Greenfield: Highway 101 to Greenfield, California. Exit onto Elm Avenue. Go west to Arroyo Seco Road and turn left. Go west at Arroyo Seco Recreation Area, turn left into campground.
  • Pictures of this trail
    Long loop

    Bear Gulch visitor center to Condor Gulch trail (uphill) to Chalone parking lot (steep downhill) up along the creek to the Balconies (recommended detour to the Cliffs and the Tilting Terrace) then on to Chaparral parking lot Then steep uphill to the High Peaks trail. Recommended detour: up the High Peaks trail (grand views of the northern side) then down towards the Juniper Canyon trail. This takes you to a series of steep stairs with handrails to get to the top of a peak from which condors are often seen. Then down the stairs to the Juniper Canyon trail. After the junction and the restrooms, the trail goes down steeply to the Bear Gulch visitor center. Shortly before the first parking lot, there is a sign to "Caves". A short walk on that trail takes to the most famous caves, the Bear Gulch caves (lower and higher).

    In spring expect some water in the caves. Flashlight always required. (But these are very small caves, don't believe the hype).

    Western route:
    Bear Gulch visitor center
    Condor Gulch trail to High Peaks trail (2.7km, 1h)
    High Peaks trail to Chalone Creek (3.2km, 45')
    Chalone Creek to Balconies caves (3.7km, 1h)
    Balconies caves to cliffs and Tilted Terrace to Chaparral trail (2km, 0.5h)
    Balconies to Elephant Rock (short detour) to Chaparral parking lot (1.3km, 0.5h)
    Juniper Canyon trail to junction with High Peaks trail (1.9km, 0.5h)
    Left on High Peaks trail till the junction and then to the overlook, then back to the junction and left down to Juniper Canyon trail and the restrooms (3km, 1h)
    Down to the fork for Bear Gulch caves (2km, 0.5h)
    To Bear Gulch caves and back and then down to Visitor Center (4km, 1h)
    Total: 25km (7-8h including stops)

  • Trail map