High Peaks Condor Gulch Trail

HARD 59 reviews
#2 of 23 trails in

High Peaks Condor Gulch Trail is a 4.9 mile heavily trafficked loop trail located near Paicines, California that features a lake and is rated as difficult. The trail offers a number of activity options and is accessible year-round.

DISTANCE
4.9 miles
ELEVATION GAIN
1610 feet
ROUTE TYPE
Loop

backpacking

birding

hiking

nature trips

rock climbing

trail running

walking

cave

forest

lake

views

wild flowers

wildlife

rocky

no dogs

Essential loop at the Pinnacles, one of the best hiking locales in central California High Peaks Trail at Pinnacles National Monument threads its way through the wreckage of a volcano destroyed by the San Andreas Fault millions of years ago. The Monument, about 100 miles south of San Jose, California, celebrates the strange assortment of rock formations created as the volcano gave way to greater forces of plate tectonics. This loop from the eastern entrance of the Pinnacles provides the most direct route to the High Peaks, where a series of ladders and multiple tight squeezes take hikers through a geological maze that has made the Pinnacles a favorite among hikers from throughout California. While the rocks and expansive vistas are the main attractions, you might get lucky and spot some of the rare California condors that nest in the park and soar high above. Trails on this hike: Condor Gulch Trail; High Peaks Trail; Bear Gulch Trail. Starting from the Bear Gulch parking area, you can go either way. Condor Gulch Trail is a bit steeper, so you may want to start out there to get your climbing done on fresh legs and spare your knees on the way down. Best time to go: Springtime adds wildflowers to the awesome scenery, making it a near perfect hike. Summer will be too hot and autumn may be too dry, but winter should be gorgeous if you give the trails a couple days to dry out after passing storm systems. $15 Park Entrance Fee

hiking
8 hours ago

hiking
1 day ago

hiking
8 days ago

Great trail! My girlfriend and I both had low expectations from the really lackluster entrance, however, once we started we were very pleasantly surprised. The trail starts off with a few boring switchbacks but steadily the views really start to become awe inspiring once you're able to see the high peaks. Climbing through the high peaks themselves was a bit more nerve racking than I had expected but the views make any stomach butterflies subside pretty quick. Also once you get way up there, you can see tons of condors. When we came to the bridge a condor flew by from a distance of about 30 ft.

Word of advice, start this one early! Condor Gulch gets despicably hot as the day progresses. The temperature at the park was in the 90s but in that one particular area it was 103 when we checked.

hiking
20 days ago

hiking
1 month ago

This was an amazing hike all around. As others have stated, be sure to bring plenty of water during summer months. This hike is definitely a workout, but the views are phenomenal. Pictures do not do this place justice. We went on a Friday and once we climbed closer to the peaks, we rarely saw other people. We saw quite a few condors up close once we made it to the top. I would suggest hiking this one on a week day if possible as I hear it can get busy on weekends.

hiking
1 month ago

hiking
2 months ago

Great little trail. We enjoyed the views. This would be a fun trail for families. Unfortunately we didn't see any condors but had a great time anyway. We would like to come back and stay at the park a few nights to hike more of the trails and check out some of the rock climbing. And of course, see condors!

hiking
2 months ago

2 months ago

2 months ago

2 months ago

hiking
3 months ago

Difficult hike if you have foot problems like me, it didn't stop me though! It was very rewarding and I loved the High Peak view. Take plenty of water and snacks. You'll need it! Always check the weather! It gets extremely steep once you start to get closer to the High Peak because of the staircase. Not good for those who have fear of heights but no worries! They have railings for you to hold on. :P Great view of the National Park once you reach to the top.

hiking
3 months ago

Love the hike - hard to find anything like this near the bay. Easy to find trailhead however the last 30 minutes will drive you crazy on the country roads. Was on the trail early (830) & parking lot filling up. The first 2 miles is straight up but with great views. Even though we have had a lot of rain this winter, trail was bone drive. Nota tone of people the first 90 minutes. For first timers there are a few places that unnerve you once you get to high peaks - couple places there are actual iron rails to protect/help you (see pictures) but amazing views at the top and 2 different condors. Near the bottom, took the Rim Trail to the reservoir - not much there and super crowded, I would pass next time. Bring a lot of water and sunscreen,

hiking
3 months ago

3 months ago

hiking
3 months ago

hiking
3 months ago

We thoroughly enjoyed our hike on the Condor Gulch Trail. We saw 2 Condors and many turkey vultures. The scenery is amazing! You MUST get here early! Very limited parking

hiking
4 months ago

hiking
4 months ago