Old Pinnacles Trail Loop

MODERATE 36 reviews

Old Pinnacles Trail Loop is a 9.5 mile heavily trafficked loop trail located near Paicines, CA that features beautiful wild flowers. The trail is rated as moderate and primarily used for hiking, rock climbing, nature trips, and birding.

9.5 miles 2005 feet Loop

birding

hiking

nature trips

rock climbing

views

wild flowers

wildlife

Nestled in the mountains of central California, Pinnacles National Park is home to a range of unique rock formations, talus caves, and a series of beautiful peaks and valleys. It's also an excellent place to view wildlife, and is the nation's premier spot to view the endangered California condor. The park is lined with a network of trails that access both caves and peaks. No one trail is overly long, and it's possible to complete a number of them with an extended, beautiful day of hiking. The park also has a drive-in campground for those who'd like to spend more than a day, but it is only accessible from the eastern entrance.

hiking
19 days ago

This park is amazing and I can't wait to come back. Do yourself a favor and check out both of the caves as well as doing the full high peaks trek. Bring plenty of water. The scenery is just jaw dropping and crawling through caves with flashlights was just too much fun.

19 days ago

hiking
24 days ago

The best part was the views in the High Peaks, the Cave trails and the reservoir. The northern half of the loop is a little less eventful. The warm and dry air was a nice change from the colder Bay air.

2 months ago

Wow! What an amazing view. This trail kicked my butt. I didn't bring enough water. So if you hike this in summer - hydrate! :) it was a spontaneous trip for me and I didn't realize it was so steep. I can't wait to hike this one again!

5 months ago

hiking
6 months ago

7 months ago

Breathtaking

8 months ago

10 months ago

10 months ago

Amazing•Nice cool day!

1 year ago

Great hike. Make sure you bring plenty of water with you during the summer months. The rock formations are stunning. Well worth the trip. It's too bad camping is not allowed up top. That would make it a five star spot.

hiking
1 year ago

I've been hiking here most of my life because it is located in my hometown'a backyard. The climate varies with the seasons. In the summer, the area becomes very hot and very dry. In the winter, it is mostly cold throughout the day. Some trails go through caves while others only wind through trees. I suggest bringing plenty of water, using proper footwear and wearing lots of sun screen.

camping
1 year ago

1 year ago

hiking
1 year ago

hiking
1 year ago

hiking
1 year ago

hiking
1 year ago

This was an awesome hike, I have done both the Gulch and Pinnacles side! Go right after it has rained, the waterfalls and caves are beautiful.

hiking
1 year ago

This is a great hike. It's moderate climb to the high peaks. The caves are really cool. If you go through the east entrance you can go any time of day or night which is awesome for photography. I spent about 6 hours hiking here. I would definitely go back. The park is clean and the Rangers are friendly.

hiking
1 year ago

Rising out of the Gabilan Mountains along the San Andreas Fault Zone, are the spectacular remains of part of an ancient volcanic field. The area is teaming with unique wildlife including the endangered California Condor.

Beginning from the Bear Gulch parking lot, we started this hike up the Bear Gulch trail. This trail meanders under the shade of Sycamore trees, which leads to the Bear Gulch Cave trail. Apparently this area is home to a colony of big-eared bat species (which find refuge year round in the caves), including the California Red-legged Frog (which is the largest native frog in the Western US region), in addition to over 400 different species of bees, (which is the largest diversity of bees in North America). Although this trail was so heavily populated with families (with younger kids) that we simply smiled when we finally turned and continued up the much steeper High Peaks Trail. This trail ascends along the ridge through meadows of grass and Manzanita trees. The views along this trail of the volcanic spires are simply amazing. This whole area is a must for any photography buffs. Once at the top of Scott Peak (2605 feet) you can view the other side of surrounding valley towards the ocean (and also has limited cell phone coverage if needed). We had a quick snack and then continued up High Peaks Trail in hopes of spotting the elusive California Condor.

Near the top of the peaks there is a very steep and narrow section that has hand rails for extra support (for both physically and mentally). This is the point where we found a team of Biologists watching through binoculars of two Condors perched in the cliffs. Look for the white wash (droppings) on the rock ledges to spot their nesting areas. Then suddenly both Condors lifted off and starting soaring in the warm thermal updrafts. With wing spans of up to 9 feet across, we watched in amazement as they soared directly above us (more photo opportunities). Shortly thereafter they landed again and we continued up the trail to Hawkins Peak (2720 feet) and then turned onto Condor Gulch Trail which starts the descent of the trail back down to the parking area (and the familiar sounds of young families again). Take lots of water (and then some extra water) and be prepared for hot weather. It was 83 degrees at Scott Peak at around 1300 hours (at the end of March).

Hike Stats (All Trails app coverage not available): Approx. 7.6 mile loop, 2,800 feet elevation ascent/decent, with total time of six hours (including stops).