Juniper Canyon Trail to High Peaks

HARD 99 reviews
#8 of 27 trails in

Juniper Canyon Trail to High Peaks is a 3.6 mile heavily trafficked loop trail located near Paicines, California that features a river and is rated as difficult. The trail offers a number of activity options and is accessible year-round.

Distance: 3.6 miles Elevation Gain: 1,259 feet Route Type: Loop

hiking

nature trips

rock climbing

bird watching

running

forest

river

views

wild flowers

wildlife

no dogs

Please note as of 2/19/2019 Balconies Cave and Bear Gulch Cave are closed due to flooding. Beautifully shaded by the surrounding trees and chaparral for most of the hike but it can get very hot very quick. It begins fairly easy and quickly gains difficulty as you gain elevation. You will need plenty of water and watch out blackberry bushes and Mountain Misery which are both abundant.

hiking
2 months ago

I love this trail! Third time I’ve done it!! The steep and narrows are worth it!!!

hiking
2 months ago

Was a good trail to run, no one really apparent on the trail the whole time, quite warm running it at midday in July

hiking
no shade
2 months ago

Beautiful trail! No much shade. During sunny day, make sure bring plenty water. There is water at the trail head.

hiking
rocky
2 months ago

the pictures do not do this trail justice when we arrived it was warm but when we came down it was hot. bring a wide brimmed hat and lots of water. we did the trail counter clockwise. when you get to the very top rest take your shoes off have a snack before you start again. We were lucky enough to see three condors hanging out on the edge of a rock.

hiking
3 months ago

Good recommendation from everyone to do counterclockwise. Short distance but it is kicking my butt with the elevation gain. Good workout hike. Good amount of shades throughout the trail. Lots of wild flowers and wildlife creatures.

hiking
3 months ago

Spectacular rock formations and an incredible array of wild flowers. Well-maintained trail with only a handful of hikers on a Tuesday in June. Go early in the morning while the trail is shaded by the peaks. Even in the morning, there were lots of flies.

3 months ago

This was a great hike from the west side of the park...tough but well worth it. The gate opened automatically at 7:30am. The visitor center was closed so I paid the $30 fee via the iron ranger in the visitor center lot. Definitely get there early! Sat Memorial Day weekend at 8am I was the 4th car in the Chaparral lot, and when I left at 3pm there was a ranger restricting entrance...one car leaving meant one could enter. There were 10 cars waiting. The steep and narrow section was tough to navigate with a backpack full of water, food, and camera equipment; I had to remove the pack to cross the bridge. I wouldn't recommend taking young children on this section. There were hand rails and footholds carved out of the rock in the tricky places but it was more like climbing a ladder than stairs. I saw several condors roosting in the trees and in crevices on rock faces as well as a few floating on thermals. I also saw a golden eagle on the way out of the park. If you have a little extra time to spend in the area, the Chalone Winery just outside the park is a special treat, and La Plaza Bakery in Soledad has a HUGE selection of baked goods.

hiking
3 months ago

Hiked this mid May when it was overcast and 61 degrees. If it were hot and humid, you’d definitely need to take water along. This trail was surprisingly doable and when it got steep, there were railings and steps built into the rock. Spectacular views of the rocks and the valleys. There is a $30+ fee to get into the park.

hiking
no shade
4 months ago

Great hike that delivers views the entire time. Worth the sweat. Definitely double the amount of water that you think you’ll need as it gets pretty toasty on the ascend with few options for shade. I started mid afternoon and while I met enough hikers along the way to not feel too isolated, it definitely didn’t feel overcrowded. At times you may question if you’re going the correct way but the trail junctions are well marked. Go counterclockwise on the loops like others recommended. Lots of beautiful wildflowers. Encountered one rattlesnake near the base of the trail and another smaller snake further up.

hiking
no shade
4 months ago

hiking
4 months ago

It was a fantastic place to visit.

hiking
5 months ago

Followed the trail counterclockwise as advised by others. The steep narrow section is just that. We saw condors, Turkey vultures, swallows, and even a deer. Great day!

hiking
8 months ago

This was a difficult hike, but so worth it. We went counterclockwise, and I recommend going that way - it’s easier to go through the most narrow and steep parts. We had many sightings of condors soaring above us and roosting in the rocks, and the weather was cool with a beautiful sunset.

hiking
9 months ago

The weather was perfect(60 degrees&sunny) and since it was December, not a lot of people on the trail. We ended up hiking 8 miles altogether including the caves. The caves were very slippery and be prepared to get wet! Because of the recent rain we’ve received, the streams were running& there was a waterfall after the climb out of the cave. Yes, you climb out! Ha! Altogether the hike was tough, but totally worth it! We saw quite a few condors around the High Peak too. I will definitely revisit this hike a few times in the future!

9 months ago

Despite bad weather blowing in on the peak, this is a lovely hike in November. Not too hot compared to what people posted in the warmer months. Went through 2L water. Great changing views throughout and bonus toilets at the top. Extremely well maintained trail. Go counter clockwise through the peaks. The narrow trail is difficult to maneuver if u go the other way. Took 3hrs round trip with many short stops, but no stop longer than 5mins. Children under 8 not recommended.

hiking
10 months ago

Absolutely stunning! I enjoyed the climb. Every turn had a stunning view. If your lucky you may spot a California condor. Absolutely a hidden gem!!

Monday, June 04, 2018

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
Sunday, April 15, 2018

awesome! This section is part of our 12.5 loop trail with spectacular views of valleys and meadows. Moderate hike.

hiking
Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Beautiful hike. Took us about 3 hours with generous breaks in between. Steep and narrow trail had rocky stairs that were cool to climb. Saw plentiful amount of California condors and turkey vultures!

hiking
Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Great hike. As expected "just" a bit uphill at times. Ha! Great views and there is a great air current, so Condor's were visible off and on during the hike.

Thursday, February 15, 2018

A little more strenuous than anticipated. Great way to see California Condors!

hiking
Sunday, December 31, 2017

Nice trail with beautiful vistas. Up close to two Condors (236 & 340) warming themselves in the early morning sun; 15 feet off the trail. Get there early to get parking and on the trail before it gets busy. Saw a BIG Bobcat just off the road as we left the Chaparral Parking area. Great day. Lots of other trails to explore next time.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Steady incline from the start with a great reward at peak: Stairway to heaven of sorts

running
Saturday, April 29, 2017

This was my first time here and ran as much as I could but the panoramic views wouldn't let me. beautiful place.

hiking
Sunday, March 26, 2017

BABY PACK WARNING: if you have a baby pack, check that your child is secure at all angles. There is a 50 foot section along a cliff with low overhead rocks that you will probably have to crawl if you're wearing a baby pack. That's not the section where you want to wonder if your pack is secure at a 45 degree angle forward and a 20 degree angle left.

hiking
Monday, March 13, 2017

Weekend can be busy but still worth it.

hiking
Sunday, March 13, 2016

It was an awesome trail. I did the downhill coming from High Peaks into Chaparral as part of a 10 mile loop around the park. I went in March and the smell of the Buckwheat fills the air. Awesome.

hiking
Friday, February 12, 2016

there is no wrong time to hike this trail. Beautiful. but make sure you bring enough water.

hiking
Monday, June 13, 2011

Fantastic! The views on this section alone are spectacular! I went during a storm and it was still gorgeous. It seems like around every turn the scenery gets even better. Being in the canyon also helped shelter us from the 40 mph winds!

hiking
2 days ago

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