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Making a Wrong Turn in Pinnacles National Park

A long hike turned into an even longer one. One wrong turn sent us on the other scenic route...

By: Benjamin Canevari + Save to a List

Pinnacles National Park is the closest National Park to me. Surprisingly this was only my second time visiting. This place is amazing!

The last time I was here was four years ago now. We went in the spring time, everything should be green and lush and blooming wildflowers everywhere right? WRONG. It was a desert. No rain meant no thriving plants. This time around was different though, we've gotten a ton of rain this winter and spring, and Pinnacles is definitely showing how happy it was to get it.

Nicolette and I got to the park early to claim our camp spot. After being kicked out of the first site we tried, we went up to the Visitors Center to wait for it to open so we could ask them which sites were actually open. Everywhere looked like it was reserved for the weekend. Who actually plans ahead these days!?? Anyway, while we were waiting for the Visitors Center to open, this man came and asked if we were waiting to try and get a campsite. We told him we were, and he said that his wife wasn't feeling well and that they'd be leaving a night early. So after having that huge weight lifted off our shoulders, we went inside and paid for our campsite and went to set up.

As soon as we got set up and started to cook lunch, it started to POUR down rain. So we put everything away as fast as we could and jumped in the tent to keep dry and wait out the rain.

Our friends Luke and Melissa showed up about noon, of course right as the rain lets up. They set up their camp and we packed our bags and set off for the trails.

Like I said before, everything was so green and lush. We were in awe. We took the Old Pinnacles Trail up to the Balconies. Since the shuttle wasn't running all the way up to the trailhead there, we had to hike up from the main road. Which really wasn't too far at all.

I loved the Old Pinnacles trail. It was so green this time and flowers were starting to bloom. And the creek was even full. We got to hike next to it and even had to cross it a few times as we made our way towards the balconies.

Old Pinnacles trail leads to either the Balconies loop, or the Balconies caves. We opted for the caves. These were pretty crazy, big boulders fell down and were lodged in the slot canyons, blocking out the sun and creating dark tunnels. The trail leads you straight through the caves, so make sure you have flashlights and are ready to get down and push your pack through the openings and army crawl your way through!

If you're taking photos in the caves, make sure you're ready to wait for people to leave your frame! 

So after the caves we were planning on heading towards the High Peaks Trail. In order to get there we had to take the Balconies Trail to the June trail and so on. Well, we came to a fork in the path and it showed a picnic area to the left, and balconies trail to the right. We wanted the picnic area trail, but we took the balconies trail... -_- so it took us up and around above the caves, and back to the Old Pinnacles Trail. Not where we wanted to go, but we made it work.

These little guys were out in force all weekend! Watch your step!

Pinnacles doesn't look like a huge park on the map. But there are loads of trails that aren't on the map. They lead to tons of different climbing areas and lookouts. Last time I was here I got to climb with my cousins and it was some of my favorite routes I've ever done! Can't wait to get back and do some more exploring and actually climb more!

We want to acknowledge and thank the past, present, and future generations of all Native Nations and Indigenous Peoples whose ancestral lands we travel, explore, and play on. Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures and follow local regulations. Please explore responsibly!

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