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Condor Gulch Trail to High Peaks Trail Loop

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Pinnacles National Park

Condor Gulch Trail to High Peaks Trail Loop is a 5.4 mile heavily trafficked loop trail located near Soledad, California that features a lake and is rated as difficult. The trail is primarily used for hiking, running, and nature trips and is accessible year-round.

Distance: 5.4 miles Elevation Gain: 1,591 feet Route Type: Loop

hiking

nature trips

running

cave

forest

lake

views

wild flowers

wildlife

rocky

scramble

fee

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. $30 Park Entrance Fee for Vehicles Note: Caves in the area tend to close seasonally due to weather conditions and the presence of wildlife. To view updated closure information, please see https://www.nps.gov/pinn/planyourvisit/cavestatus.htm

hiking
1 month ago

Beautiful scenery, a fair amount of elevation gain/loss, and many condors (per the name). I highly recommend this hike!

closed
off trail
2 months ago

Closed- Bear gulch caves and High peaks trail (see my posted pics) 03.21.20- I came early morning (7.30 am) for much awaited full upper+lower bear gulch caves experience but sadly the caves are closed to access. No worries. I took the detour and did the hike to the top in rain. Let me tell you Pinnacles is best in rain (and then spring for wildflowers). At the top, I found the high peaks trail is also closed (with penalty for fine and jail time if breached). took the juniper canyon trail and came back. All the time it was misty to rainy to misty to rainy again. Very good experience on my 3rd yearly (March) trip to Pinnacles.

hiking
rocky
2 months ago

hiking
2 months ago

Spectacular scenery, though gets almost unbearably crowded on weekends. Prepare to encounter lots of large groups.

hiking
rocky
2 months ago

hiking
muddy
private property
2 months ago

hiking
3 months ago

Hiked this trail on 2-22-2020 while camping in Pinnacles Campground. We went counterclockwise and I think it was the best for me. Going on steep downhill climbs really hurts my right knee but it didnt bother me at all on this route. We saw some condors up close flying over head as well as perched on rocks all around. February is definitely the time to go. It was warm and sunny even during the winter. Great Trail!

hiking
3 months ago

Did this counter-clockwise. Beautiful views at the top with soaring condors. Excellent hiking weather in mid-February.

hiking
3 months ago

Amazing view. Not too crowded.

hiking
rocky
3 months ago

Awesome views on this trail! We accidentally went clockwise, which I would not do again. The first stretch of high peaks trail coming from bear gulch area to scout peak was all uphill. Considering turning around at scout peak because we had no sense of how much more uphill we had but kept going and so glad we did, as the steep and narrow section was not as intimidating as it sounds. If we’d gone the other way (starting up condor gulch) we’d have had better views on the way up and a little less steep of a hike (though you go up stairs with a railing in the “steep and narrow” section of high peaks to make up for the slightly less steep trail at the beginning of condor gulch if you go counter clockwise). Either way, the latter half of your hike will be mostly downhill. Condor gulch side has more shade. Definitely take your water packing seriously! Even on a 60 degree day, we were hot in the exposed sun. Another tip: we got a late start and therefore hiked to the bear gulch area from the campground rather than deal with parking. Didn’t realize there was a shuttle! The extra 2 miles of easy hike on either side of the hike wasn’t work it, save your energy for the hills and take the shuttle service!! Without the extra hiking to and from the campground this loop took us about 3 hours and 20 minutes with some rests.

hiking
rocky
3 months ago

Great way to see the park- not difficult for any experienced hiker. I would highly recommend going through bear gulch caves and the reservoir on the way up or down. Saw condors in the high peaks!

hiking
4 months ago

This loop is fine, but I prefer hiking High Peak-Condor Gulch loop (clockwise loop) more beautiful than counter clock wise. I hike Condor - High Peak loop yesterday.

Beautiful, the views are amazing and we saw condors at the top!

Great time of year to come. Even had a light rain and it was still fine. Moderate more than hard. Went counter clockwise. Multiple Condor sightings!

hiking
rocky
4 months ago

hiking
4 months ago

Beautiful hike through the park. We hiked clockwise, starting just after 10am. We didn't encounter too many people throughout the day which was great (it was a Sunday). The Bear Gulch caves were fun to wander through. We even saw a condor fly quite close to us as we neared the Condor Gulch overlook. Where we took the Condor Gulch trail our friend took the long way back to the car, running the High Peaks trail to Bench trail, and back to Bear Gulch trail. Highly recommended! If you're a regular hiker I would not call this a strenuous hike, however I wouldn't recommend for those uncomfortable with heights (we saw someone struggle walking down the narrow steps in the steeper section).

hiking
flooded
4 months ago

We did this hike clockwise, and we absolutely loved it. The Bear Gulch cave was so much fun to explore - we got an early start, so we had the entire trail to ourselves for this part. The hike itself wasn’t too strenuous, except for maybe the stair sections near High Peaks. We encountered very few other hikers on this section as well. Once we got into the Condor Gulch area the trail was a little busier, but still very light traffic compared to how busy this park can be. One of the perks of visiting in the off-season! We were also rewarded with several condor sightings. The Bear Gulch trail was definitely flooded (about 4-5 inches) inside the cave at one point, so we were thankful to have waterproof shoes on. Overall this hike is a must do, but make sure Bear Gulch Caves are open - otherwise you’re missing out.

hiking
rocky
scramble
4 months ago

Truly spectacular. We hiked this in late December, when the weather was cool, which made all that uphill much more lovely. Didn't see any condors ourselves, so we'll have to try again.

We loved this hike so much! We took this trail counterclockwise & got the steep part out of the way, uphill’s always easier on the knees! Condor Gulch, then High Peak, then Bear Gulch. We decided to add an additional leg & jumped over to the Bear Gulch Reservoir & completed the trail that way, through the upper caves! Trails were maintained very well, and it made for a productive day. This one finished out for us at about 6.4mi

hiking
rocky
scramble
5 months ago

A amazing day hike. We hiked this trail mid-December, and the weather and trail condition were great (although it was a bit windy). We finished the 6.1 mile trail (going thorugh the cave) by in around 4 hours. The hike through the cave was extra special. Overall a great experience

hiking
5 months ago

Did this trail in late November with my family of four including two teens. We explored the Bear Gulch Caves and then proceeded up to the High Peaks trail and finally down Condon Gulch. This is a strenuous hike with some very steep sections, including many areas with handrailings as you want amidst the pinnacles. Very cool experience! Overall, my favorite hike in the park is coming up Juniper Canyon (even with its endless switchbacks), but this was is a close second.

hiking
5 months ago

awesome views, I would highly recommend this hike during spring.

hiking
rocky
scramble
6 months ago

hiking
6 months ago

Had a great day hiking this. Started off via the condor gulch trail going counter clock wise and ending with the cave portion. Saw the amazing condors just before hitting the steep rock stairs. Well worth doing. So many cool things to see.

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