Winter in California is just perfection for hiking. And I was itching to hit some new trails again. While we really wanted to get some backpacking in, in preparation for our big Grand Canyon Rim 2 Rim trip in May, the weather wasn’t quite good enough for camping. So we made lemonade out of lemons and escaped to Jon’s family cabin at Mount Herman – with a stop at one of the newest national parks – Pinnacles – along the way.
We would pass signs for the exit to Pinnacles on each trip up north to the Bay Area, and somehow I heard that Pinnacles was actually one of the newest national parks. Since we had an annual national parks pass, I knew this was eventually going to have to be a stop on a trip north.
Valentines weekend ended up being that perfect opportunity. We headed over to the East entrance – and had to wait in line to get into the park because there was no parking! We eventually got in and caught the shuttle to the trail head where we set off to the Bear Gulch caves, which were pretty cool. It’s a short hike actually through the rocks and alongside “waterfalls” and rushing water. There were A LOT of people around, and kids, so it was a bit chaotic. We tried to get through the crowds as quickly as we could, and after about a mile finally escaped. After that, it was very peaceful as we wound our way through the park and along ridge lines. We kept our eyes open for condors, which Pinnacles serves as a protected habitat for.
Hike Details: Bear Gulch caves – Rim Trail – High Peaks Trail – Condor Gulch Trail
Distance: 5.8 miles
Time: 2 hours 23 minutes
Elevation: 1,699 feet