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

Chaparral Trailhead Parking - Search Nearby - Added by Sonja Saxe

Enjoy some of the best views the 59th national park has to offer from this lollipop loop. 

Pinnacles National Park is located just over two hours outside of San Francisco (depending on the traffic). It was designated the 59th national park in 2013 and while it is small it offers beautiful views and unique wildlife viewing. Keep an eye out for California condors on this hike! 

This trail is accessed from the west entrance of the park. Once you pay your entrance fee you will drive a few miles down the park road to its end at the Chaparral Trailhead parking lot to begin your adventure. From the trailhead you will immediately head right at the fork towards the Juniper Canyon trail. 

The first mile of the trail gently winds through the forest, offering your first up-close views of the towering spires that Pinnacles is named after. At 1.2 miles you will reach a trail junction. From this junction you can take either trail because they are both a part of this loop, but I recommend heading right to continue along the Juniper Canyon Trail. The trail continues to climb via switchbacks until finally you find yourself at an overlook that offers unobstructed views of the park in nearly every direction. This is a great spot to watch for condors! 

After you have enjoyed the views from the overlook you will follow the sign that designates the High Peaks "Steep and Narrow" section. This portion of the trail is where the real fun begins! The trail snakes its way up and around the jagged pinnacles in a daring fashion: handrails and minuscule steps are put into place to help guide you up and down steep rocks faces. 

After 0.7 miles on the High Peaks "Steep and Narrow" you will reach another trail junction. This time you will take a left and follow the Tunnel Trail. At this point you will begin your descent. Once you reach the Tunnel-Juniper Canyon junction for a second time you will take a right to head towards the trailhead. You will be retracing your steps but heading down gives you a different perspective than you enjoyed on the way up.  

Distance

4.3 Miles RT

Elevation Gain

1200 ft Gain

Type

Loop

Activities

Photography, Hiking

Bathrooms
Easy Parking
Family Friendly
Forest
Scenic
Wildlife

Nearby Lodging

Salinas / Monterey KOA

Prunedale, California

Moss Landing KOA Express

Moss Landing, California

Los Banos West / I-5 KOA

Santa Nella, California

From $176/night

Asilomar Hotel and Conference Grounds

Pacific Grove, California

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!

Reviews

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Overall rating: 

Views that don’t quit!

Great hike that delivers views the entire time. Worth the sweat. Definitely double the amount of water that you think you’ll need as it gets pretty toasty on the ascend with few options for shade. I started mid afternoon and while I met enough hikers along the way to not feel too isolated, it definitely didn’t feel overcrowded. At times you may question if you’re going the correct way but the trail junctions are well marked. Go counterclockwise on the loops like others recommended. Lots of beautiful wildflowers. Encountered one rattlesnake near the base of the trail and another smaller snake further up.

Great Loop, Family Friendly

Great time hiking the Juniper trail. The loop around the peaks and through the rocks (tunnel) was absolutely wonderful!

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