High Peaks Trail is a 10.1 kilometer heavily trafficked loop trail located near Paicines, California that features beautiful wild flowers and is only recommended for very experienced adventurers. The trail is primarily used for hiking and bird watching and is accessible year-round.

Distance: 10.1 km Elevation Gain: 540 m Route Type: Loop

hiking

bird watching

views

wild flowers

wildlife

muddy

rocky

no shade

no dogs

Directions from East Entrance Station: Follow the park road to Chalone Creek Picnic Area. The High Peaks Trail begins from there and ends at the Bear Gulch Visitor Center, which is 1.6 miles south.

hiking
1 month ago

Awesome hike through Pinnacles NP! This trail is particularly enjoyable because you're hiking up in the pinnacles themselves, and have amazing views for a large portion of it. Lots of elevation gain/loss, so be prepared with food, water, and willpower!

hiking
2 months ago

Completed this trail with my fiancé today 3/28, the first day that they instituted the new rule that only people with campground reservations can enter. To start, it was a major pain because we had to drive 30min back to King city to get signal to purchase a campsite (which we didn’t even use). Once we get into the park, we found out that there is no parking allowed at the trailheads, so we had to start our hike from the campground into the trail. What started with a hassle ended up being a blessing in disguise as the closure turned away most casuals leaving most of the park completely deserted. During our hike we counted only 6 different groups of people on the trail, and this was even with a late start in the afternoon! What an incredible treat we had with large sections of the trail with nobody but ourselves. The scenery was amazing and I kept turning corners with my jaw dropped at the geologic formations that were ahead. The weather was also perfect with moody clouds that never produced more than a light sprinkle but kept the weather cool and lighting perfect. I can’t wait to plan my next trip to my new favorite NP, hopefully during a time that will be as deserted as when we went. Only bummer was that all of the cave sections were closed due to Covid-19. 10/10 will definitely go again.

2 months ago

Views and solitude

hiking
2 months ago

The views are amazing. I must have taken 2 dozen panoramic pictures. The caves at the start are a little difficult but a short distance. If you are not comfortable with heights the loop us probably not for you. Trail get pretty narrow but luckily the railings are sturdy! You definitely rely in them. I took about 150 pictures and stopped to enjoy all of the views. The Ranger said it was about three hours...I took me 4 1/2.

hiking
2 months ago

Fantastic trail with amazing views and narrow spots along the cliffs (with guardrails). This is one of my favorite loop trails now. Make sure to take a small detour to the reservoir and hike through the cave. Pro tip take the shuttle from Bear Gulch back to the parking lot if you had to park far away. Parking is limited and fills up quick before 10am!

hiking
rocky
3 months ago

Hard but worth it

hiking
closed
off trail
rocky
scramble
7 months ago

hiking
bugs
8 months ago

High peaks trail is one of the best hikes in California. Take bug spray for the caves. And plenty of water.

hiking
8 months ago

We just did this hike...spectacular!...got a real break in the weather. 82 was the high. If you're there to see the condors here's a tip. Do some homework and make sure you can tell the difference between a turkey vulture and a condor. They look very similar. There are turkey vulture everywhere around the park and intermixed with the condors. Once you understand the way they fly, which is different than condors, you're good to go. To the inexperienced eye they are very similar. The most defining feature is the coloration of the feather underneath the wings. This is easy to identify because you'll be looking up at the birds in flight. Get a comparative chart and study it and once you know what you're looking for it's easy to tell the difference. Condor usually fly higher than the vultures but not always. Binocular are a must to get really a good view. Once you see a condor soar you'll never forget it.

hiking
9 months ago

This trail is NO JOKE. 1) The visitor center says to bring a liter of water per person per hour, and I highly recommend you follow that. I’ve never experienced heat exhaustion before (I’m from Texas), but if we hadn’t made it to the end when we did, I might’ve passed out. 2) It’s doable in the fall-spring months, I’m sure, but we literally had to stop every 5-10 minutes, and took advantage of most shady spots we could find. Some were tiny, but we NEEDED it. It’s a great trail and a great workout replacement, but come prepared. Snacks and lots of water are a must. I’m not asthmatic, but the peak elevation is 2500’ and, man, was it difficult to catch my breath. Especially in the 92° feels like 109° weather.

hiking
Wed Mar 27 2019

Beautiful outcrops and a slight workout. Well worth your time

hiking
Sat Feb 23 2019

Very nice this time of year. I recommend bringing water in a back pack. One 12 oz bottle didn't cut it for me.

hiking
Wed Oct 31 2018

Great views of interesting rock formations and really unique trails.

hiking
Wed Sep 12 2018

Bring plenty of water! Worth the short detour for stopping at the reservoir and caves on the way.

Fri Aug 03 2018

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

hiking
Sun Jul 08 2018

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.

hiking
Tue Jun 05 2018

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.

hiking
Sat May 05 2018

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.

hiking
Tue Apr 17 2018

Beautiful hike. Very much worth the incline work. Saw California condors as well as hawks and multitude of picturesque rock formations. Photo opportunities everywhere.

hiking
Tue Mar 27 2018

Easy hiking weather while it’s still cool. Not many wildflowers yet but I’d expect them soon. Shooting stars and bush poppies make up the majority of visible blooms.

hiking
Thu Mar 15 2018

so fun

Sat Jan 27 2018

Beautiful hike! Good to hike in the winter when weather is mild.

Thu Jan 18 2018

The views are amazing and worth the hike. It gets hot fast up there so either go when it’s cold or go super early.

Thu Jan 11 2018

beautiful hike!!

Fri Dec 15 2017

Did not complete trail but made up to the very top and returned. This trail has some challenges if you don't like heights. My wife and i loved it and want to do it again

Mon Nov 27 2017

Great hike! It is steep but well worth it!

hiking
Thu Oct 12 2017

Took my team from work for an outing here and everyone loved it. Easy access, short enough to ensure everyone can finish in a few hours. There are a couple sections that are very unique and the trail makes for some awesome pictures of going down dark caves and walking up steep stairs carved in the rocks. A great hike to do for 1st time hikers in Pinnacles

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