Explore the most popular views trails in Pinnacles National Park with hand-curated trail maps and driving directions as well as detailed reviews and photos from hikers, campers and nature lovers like you.

Hard. In 112 degree heat wouldn’t recommend.

I recommend doing this trail counter clockwise so you save all the fun stuff till the end!

hiking
15 days ago

By far it was a beautiful view. I was amazed every corner I turned. The waterfall was beautiful. I went during rainy season so I saw multiples falls. The cave, WOW!!! You have to be there to know what I felt. We took the bear gulch trail!!!! Very nice..

Even on the hot days, an early start will allow this hike to be rewarding.

Listen to Mark. (see below)

I would give this hike a 4 star for spring/ winter but not for July.

If you must go in the summer time, please do the high peaks early in the AM. We started at the high peaks trail head at 7:30 AM and were at the top by 9:30. It is moderate difficulty but is do able. Old pinnacles trail was less interesting given the lack of lush vegetation and flat trail, but it is good for beginners.

Take plenty of electrolytes and at least 2 liters of water per person and enjoy the journey. It makes for some awesome stories. :)

By far one of my favorite trails at the Pinnacles. It’s less traveled than high peaks but has amazing views. The incline is steady but isn’t that bad until you hit the last part of the trail, then it gets pretty steep. The views are totally worth it! This hike is best done in the winter, spring or fall. In the summer it is either really hot or the morning fog lingers which can prevent you from enjoying the views.

Disclosure: I haven’t been hiking in years and I’m very out of shape. The first part of this trail was great! Old pinnacles to the balconies cave. Had we any sense, we would have looped back around from there. But nope. We hit the juniper trail from west entrance up to high peaks. That was tough. Huge leg workout. Needed to stop frequently. But we got up to the tunnel trail fork and had lunch. Great views. Took the high peaks trail back to old pinnacles and nearly got heat stroke because there was zero shade and the temp was 110. Do this in cooler temps or very early in the morning.

hiking
1 month ago

Beautiful! Bring water, bring a flashlight, bring sunscreen. Wonder start through oaks aplenty. Then, up and up and up! Then down, down, and down, to the caves. I didn't bring a flashlight, so I went back up the Balconies Trail. It was pretty hot, but I made. This is a majestic national park. Thank you Senator Boxer and President Obama. One more note, you drive through Monterrey County wine country to get to the park!

My daughter and her boyfriend were up from SoCal. They joined my son and I who had hiked this trail back in the Spring. We all left San Jose at 6:30 am to try and beat the heat. We were on the trail at roughly 8:30 am with plenty of water, cooling towels, and provisions.

We added the hike to the caves so my daughter could experience it, but hadn't seen that they were closed. We were shunted around to the reservoir. We charged our cooling towels in the reservoir and headed up the high peaks.

As we were expecting, it was warming up as the day wore on, but it was comfortable. There was occasional shade and we stopped for breathers. We made it to the bench in about 2 hours. We stopped and ate our snacks and enjoyed the view. We saw a few other hikers although more coming from the opposite direction.

We continued the high peaks. Saw some birds that may have been condors. No bird experts in our group

As we worked our way down, the temperature rapidly rose and our towels were losing their cooling ability.

It's a long, dry, steep hike back down to the cars on Condor Gultch Trail. The scenery is gorgeous, though, and well worth it.

We got back to the car, exhausted. It was about 12:30 pm when we arrived.

Everyone loved the hike. What really surprised me was how many people we passed heading up as we were coming down and the heat was rising. Very impressed.

We stopped at the park store on the way out and enjoyed some cool drinks. The ladies in the store were delightful.

It was a great day at Pinnacles.

went on a 100 degree day at 2:30pm...

1. bring water. i often bring water but never drink it. so glad i had it on this trip. went though 24 oz because i didn’t have more.

2. california condors look like turkey vultures. “they” say there are 30 or so in the park. i saw 6-8 of them. win!

3. i really liked the trail. rapid ascents and switchbacks. some hand rails at the top and narrow passages. good leg workout day.

word !

hiking
1 month ago

Not for the faint of heart or fear of heights. Did this loop with 5 adults and 6 kids ages 3-9. Had to take turns carrying the littlest one for some of the trail while she slept but once she got her nap in she was good to go another couple miles!
Steady uphill climb with amazing views from the top. When we got to the tiny "stairs" carved into the rock face we discussed going back for the safety of the children.....BUT instead just devised a safe plan to keep moving forward and made it without difficulty.
The kids enjoyed the caves the most! BUT beware, the caves can be very wet and slippery, be cautious. As we approached the other park entrance, there was EMS crews there and they were life flighting someone out who had gotten hurt in the caves. We made it through without any issues or problems to speak of. It did take much of the day. Pack plenty of water, sunscreen and snacks! I definitely recommend this trail for experienced hikers.

I would say that the view at Scout Peak and Hawkins Peak is way better than what you get at the Condor Gulch overlook point. And it is easier to start clock-wise than climbing up from the Condor Gulch Trail.

This trail has everything - incline, a bit of rock climbing, if you extend 1 mile to see the reservoir then you'll get to hike through caves too. There's no shade for most part of the trail so wear a hat and bring lots of water. Go early too for a chance to see the condors. We started the hike at 7:30 AM and got to see 6 condors.

A nice hike from the main parking lot up to the caves. Pretty straight forward and it can get hot. Didn't make it to the lake because I was with older folks with knee problems, but it was a nice hike nonetheless.

hiking
2 months ago

Awesome trail! Be sure to take lots of water and snacks if you do the whole loop. Should take about 4 hours unless you stop to take in all the beautiful views. Would definitely do this again.

Great hike. Recommend hiking boots, lots of loose rocks. Caves were closed due to baby bats season. We were told that every year caves close between May 15 and July 15. Wish I knew before hand, but still a great hike to the reservoir. Bring lots of water.

Pack water. Start early. Take your time going back down. Great picnic spots at the higher elevations. You’ll know when you get there. We had a phallic rock spotting contest. It was a hoot. Legs are tired.

hiking
2 months ago

Hot! in the afternoon. Somewhat crowded.

Start early and avoid the heat!

Great hike. We added on the reservoir and I would highly recommend it. Go early. Pretty exposed. We went and had cloud coverage the entire hike so it helped but I can imagine in the sun it would very warm. Saw condors at the end after looping through the reservoir area.

I don’t consider myself an advanced hiker and did this no problem. Yes it has elevation up with first 2 miles or so but take breaks and it is absolutely doable. I was concerned because of the rating but nailed it!

Love it.

This hike was difficult, it reminded me of mission peak. Hardly had any shade. The over look was not all that.

The most beautiful hike I’ve ever been on. Make sure to wear good hiking shoes and be aware of the rattle snakes. Hike was easy. Sucked that the cave was closed due to the bats.

Absolutely breathtaking, being beautiful and harder but completely worth it.

hiking
3 months ago

This was an adventure for me a relatively new hiker. I started at Bear Gulch so it added 1.7. Take lots of water. Much of the trail is shade but a lot is in direct sun.

Caves were crowded. Would go earlier next time.

Very pretty. Bring lots of water, I went through 3L

Beautiful views and interesting caves!

hiking
3 months ago

View from the top is definitely worth it! It's a pretty strenuous hike and is a constant climb, but the trails are very well maintained and there are spots to stop, rest, and enjoy the view along the way. It's not well shaded, so bring plenty of water and sunscreen. The park is really heavily trafficked, and there was no parking when I got there at 9am.

Climb not too bad. Amazing views. And we saw three condors!!!!

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