Explore Pinnacles National Park

Details

Added by Pascual Dutton

An easy, really fun day trip for bay area residents.Explore two caves, a reservoir, and a myriad of wildlife.The scenery is epic and truly shines at dusk and dawn.A great winter hike, as the summer months can get hot.

It’s hard to believe how many people don’t know about this place, which was newly designated as a National Park in January 2013. Pinnacles National Park is hidden just south of San Jose in the Gabilan Mountains, and is a short drive for anyone living in the Bay Area.

With beautiful rock spires piercing the horizon, huge boulders, inviting caves, light crowds, and endangered California condors floating high above, Pinnacles National Park gives off a very spiritual vibe. There are thirteen well-maintained hiking trails that weave across the park’s 26,000 acres.

There are multiple hiking options, depending on the amount of time you have and the level of difficulty you’re looking for. My favorite 4-5 hour hike is the Bear Gulch to High Peaks trail, a 6.7-mile loop that allows you to hit a lot of the park’s highlights. This is easiest accessed via the park’s East Entrance. You’ll begin by exploring the Bear Gulch caves (you’ll need your headlamp/flashlight), then up to the reservoir, and finally to the Steep and Narrow route to the High Peaks. The Steep and Narrow route includes some steep and semi-challenging hiking, as well as a bit of scrambling, but the views from the top are simply amazing.

Parking is $5/vehicle for day use, paid at the visitor center. The west entrance is open from 7:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily. The east entrance is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. 831-389-4486.

Be sure to dress in layers – it can be warm on the trail and cool in the caves. If you have hiking boots, I would recommend using them. Bring plenty of water.

Read More

Known for

Photography
Hiking
Bathrooms
Easy Parking
Family Friendly
Scenic
Wildflowers
Wildlife

Nearby

Reviews

Leave a Review

Fun state park

Rocks are amazing. We saw a condor and it was huge. The short cave crawl is also fun

A unique National Park close to the Bay Area

Pinnacles is such a unique park! Full of incredible geology and home of California Condors, this under appreciated park is well worth the trip!

Underrated National Park

The cave is really fun! Make suer to bring flashlights or a headlamp. Besides the cave, the trails are not very covered, so hats and lots of water and sunscreen are recommended. Try looking for condors while eating lunch!

Stunning views!

This hike was stunning. Two of us tackled the Bear Gulch to High Peaks trail in 3.5 hours. The trail took us first to the gulch, where the hills around us were reflected beautifully in the still water. We then climbed about 1400 feet up into the High Peaks. Stunning views!! Be a bit brave and scramble to the top of a huge boulder to take it all in. Then descend down the Condor ridge trail. Tip: start early in the morning during summer months as it gets HOT.

Pinnacles is a gem

The first time passing by Pinnacles we decided to skip it as we didn't know if it was worth the detour. I am SO glad we went back and decided to check it out. One of my favorite spots in CA. Best part was the lack of crowds compared to other NPs in the state.

Great trails at Pinnacles

Pinnacles National Park in Central California is a fantastic place for outdoor fun and adventure if you love hiking, climbing or even photography. Here are some of my favorite highlights on where I visited, hiked and photographed this spectacular park http://travelphotodiscovery.com/travel-photo-postcard-pinnacles-national-park/ Enjoy the park

Pinnacles Into the Wild Trip

We took a group of 15 students to Pinnacles this past weekend. March is Condor "mating season" so we got to see many of these spectacular birds. Get there early - the parking lot near the trail head was full before noon, so the national park was shuttling people back and forth (and the line was quite lengthy). The caves were also closed due to flooding from recent rains - be sure to check the website before you go!

A Awe Inspiring place!

Pinnacles is a place you could spend months on end at. Although nature tends to be that way. I have spent some time in Pinnacles National Park. From sunrise to sunset and every inch of Park property is worth exploring!

Great Hike If Starting Early

I just did this hike today- it was beautiful. We took bear gulch to high Peaks trail. The views were incredible. The hike itself was moderate and occasionally strenuous. Some areas along this hike require you to stoop,bend,twist, and or climb a bit so be prepared. We arrived at the park at 0830 and people were already filling in. By the time we left (13:30 ) there was a line of cars trying to get in, and the park rangers were controlling the flow of traffic. This is Easter weekend though but I'm sure in peak season this is frequently the case. The only area of true congestion that we experienced was around the top of the Peak. There were lots of large, loud, obnoxious groups but the rest of the hike was moderately private. Animal life was great! Some lizards scuffled around but the Condors were incredible! They are massive and great to watch. This hike is worth the drive,worth the weekend crowd, and worth waking up early for. Total time for our hike with a group of four on this loop with stopping and exploring and taking photos was 4HR25min

Great Place

One of my favorite places. Did not bring any climbing gear but will be ready for next time. Get there early and spend the day till dusk because the views are worth it!

860 total saves

4.6/5

Leave No Trace

Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures and follow local regulations. Please explore responsibly!

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.

Nearby Adventures

Hike to Bear Gulch Reservoir in Pinnacles National Park

3.5
1.5 mi / 275 ft gain

Hike the High Peaks & Balconies Cave Loop

5.0
8.4 mi / 1540 ft gain

Hike the Old Pinnacle Trail in Pinnacles National Park

5.0
9 mi / 2000 ft gain

Hike the Juniper Canyon, High Peaks, Tunnel Trail Loop in Pinnacles NP

5.0
4.3 mi / 1200 ft gain
More Nearby Adventures