High Peaks Condor Gulch Trail

HARD 179 reviews
#1 of 29 trails in

High Peaks Condor Gulch Trail is a 4.6 mile heavily trafficked loop trail located near Pinnacles, California that features a lake and is rated as difficult. The trail offers a number of activity options and is accessible year-round.

DISTANCE
4.6 miles
ELEVATION GAIN
1,479 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
17 days ago

High Peaks Condor Gulch Trail parking at Bear Gulch area then onto Bear Gulch Trail thru caves, and then onto the high peaks can be an e moderate hike depending on conditions, and the views are spectacular of the surrounding hills and valleys. This hike of High Peaks Condor Gulch Trail in Pinnacles National Park is well worth doing, great all year long. This video was shot on the relatively wide trail of Eastern side of the Peaks, so very little of both ticks and Poison oak as hazards if you don't get too close to the sides or go off trail. Lots of wildlife if you look for it. It was very hot, so carry lots of water. Take binoculars to see the Condors close up.
A Virtual Treadmill video of this hike can be seen on my YouTube Channel, copy and paste link below to watch it. Thanks.
https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCFO02nxPdM4-CabegFIPlow?view_as=subscriber

hiking
20 days ago

Do this hike clockwise as suggested. Its easier because there is zero shade on the Condor gulch side. It was 94 when we went and it was probably like 104 up by the rocks. Bring a good amount of water. I brought 2 liters and drank every drop of it.

All of it was worth it. But in the heat it is hard. Expect condors, spectacular rock formations, and breathtaking views and and interesting stretch of climbing up and through narrow pathways and man made rock ladders. Definitely didn't disappoint. We loved it.

hiking
23 days ago

Lots of foot traffic but doesn't distract from the beauty

28 days ago

Very beautiful, very hot. Wear sunblock, a hat and Extra water.

hiking
29 days ago

Middle part of the trail had lots of good spots for scrambling! Can get very hot so make sure to bring enough water.

1 month ago

Hard. In 112 degree heat wouldn’t recommend.

1 month ago

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

hiking
2 months ago

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.

hiking
2 months ago

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
2 months ago

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.

hiking
2 months ago

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.

hiking
3 months ago

Start early and avoid the heat!

hiking
3 months ago

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!

hiking
4 months ago

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

hiking
4 months ago

Very nice hike! We first actually started at Moses Rim Trail-Bear Gulch and went through the caves through the reservoir, making the hike 6 miles, then went up on High Peaks trail, down to Condor Gulch and down. Their is a spectacular vista on Condor Gulch where Condors love to show off.

hiking
5 months ago

Awesome hike! Great views sufficiently challenging. Walking from the overflow lot adds about 6 miles and going through Bear Gulch to get there is a nice start.

hiking
5 months ago

The incline starts as soon as you get on the trail, but it’s very doable if you take breaks going up. I started around 8:30am so the sun wasn’t bad on the way up. Great views and rock faces towards the top. Bring a ton of water!

hiking
5 months ago

Loved it. Lots of vertical.

5 months ago

This trail gave me more than I expected. It was a great workout along with some stunning views. Not too difficult but be aware of the heat. We started this hike pretty late, 2-230pm, so the sun was really beating on us. However, that did not take away from the enjoyment. Added the cave trail which made it even a better loop! I will definitely recommend this trail/Park. See ya soon Pinnacles!

hiking
6 months ago

Started at approx 11:30 - ranger suggested going up Condor Gulch & coming back down High Peaks. Only saw 2 other people on the way up. At the peak we found a place to sit & have a snack (approx 2 Miles in) and we were surrounded by condor who were perched or flying very close to us. Ran into a few groups coming up the opposite direction as we began our descent. Back at the car by 2:30. Not much shade on Condor Gulch Trail, but lots on the way down. Admission to the park was $25. Fully recommend!

7 months ago

We got a little bit of everything in this loop, got to walk through a zing caves and see six condors.

hiking
7 months ago

We did the loop clock-wise starting at the Bear Gulch area. It was a demanding yet fulfilling hike. Saw plenty of condors. If you can't find a parking spot in the Bear Gulch trail -head parking lot and you hope to do the hike between 10am and 5pm on a weekend, then there is a free shuttle service between the Visitor Centre and the above said trail-head. We used that.

7 months ago

Awesome hiking trail!

7 months ago

Great hike and got the a chance to see a California Condor.

8 months ago

This hike is the best in Pinnacles National Park!! Awesome views and great chance to see Condors!!

hiking
8 months ago

Worth the hard incline for the views at the top! Loved the narrow peaks part of the trail with the rocks that had holes for your feet carved in to climb up and around the rocks & the single railing ledges! Definitely for the more adventurous hiker!

hiking
8 months ago

Great hike. Due to overcast skies, we didn't see any condors and the Peaks were obscured a bit, but still a nice hike. Will more than likely go again in order to get a true view of everything.

hiking
8 months ago

The rock formations are so fascinating and the condors are so majestic if you get to see them! We learned that January and February is when you will see more of them in the park. We got there very early and parked at the Bear Gulch area upper parking lot. We went clockwise and didn't find the Steep and Narrows section to be that difficult going down (all in all, took us about 3.5 hours). It will definitely get your heart rate up, but the views are stunning.

hiking
8 months ago

Beautiful hike! Saw three condors and lots of other birds.

9 months ago

The steep and narrow part is for real steep and narrow. If you have young children or any mobility issues this hike may not be for you. The views are truly stunning and even though it is only 4 miles it feels like a hearty hike. Highly recommended, bring your cameras.

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