Old Pinnacles Trail Loop

MODERATE 113 reviews
#2 of 28 trails in

Old Pinnacles Trail Loop is a 9.5 mile heavily trafficked loop trail located near Soledad, California that features beautiful wild flowers. The trail is rated as moderate and primarily used for hiking, rock climbing, nature trips, and birding.

DISTANCE
9.5 miles
ELEVATION GAIN
1732 feet
ROUTE TYPE
Loop

birding

hiking

nature trips

rock climbing

views

wild flowers

wildlife

no dogs

Nestled in the mountains of central California, Pinnacles National Park is home to a range of unique rock formations, talus caves, and a series of beautiful peaks and valleys. It's also an excellent place to view wildlife, and is the nation's premier spot to view the endangered California condor. The park is lined with a network of trails that access both caves and peaks. No one trail is overly long, and it's possible to complete a number of them with an extended, beautiful day of hiking. The park also has a drive-in campground for those who'd like to spend more than a day, but it is only accessible from the eastern entrance.

14 days ago

Beautiful views and interesting caves!

1 month ago

Awesome moderated hike of 12.5 miles, gain 2,073 ft elevation. Started at Chaparral trail head, from Juniper Canyon trail, High Peaks trail, Rim trail, Bear Cave Gulch trail, Bench trail, Old Pinnacles trail, and lastly Balconies Cave trail. Brought 6 bottles of water and good enough for 2 of us. Lot of wild flowers, cool reservoir and dark caves, interesting in a way, bring headlamps or use mobile flash light to navigate in dark caves.

1 month ago

Really fun! I solo hiked this and started right when the gates opened (7:30am). Pack layers and lots of water. Finished in under 4 hours.

3 months ago

Awesome

hiking
3 months ago

Was a beautiful hike. Wish I would have done this hike early morning around 8am. There are great views and amazing caves. Took around 5hours to complete.

hiking
4 months ago

This hike included some spectacular views including pinnacles, caves, waterfalls, cliffs, a reservoir, and wildlife. I advise going early in the morning because this hike took us about 5.5 hours with many stops for pictures and a lunch break. You need to bring flashlight or headlamps for the caves, it’s pitch black in there. The end of the hike on “High Peaks Trail” was a lot more difficult than I thought it would be. Just remember to wear very supportive shoes with a lot of traction.

hiking
6 months ago

Lots of great views, awesome trail through caves and narrow passages. There's a waterfall with stairs inside of the Canyon, in the heat of the summer it's nice and cool there. There are some toads in the waterways butter on the endangered species list. It's a really great place to enjoy with the family. There's tent camping, RV parking; along with a general store.

6 months ago

Did this hike today, highly recommended, love the scenery and caves

hiking
7 months ago

Really beautiful hike. Caves are the best part. Views from the top are also amazing. Detour for the reservoir is worth it. Be prepared for it. The switchbacks to get to the top are really intense and very steep so keep some protein bars or some food with you.

hiking
8 months ago

Fantastic hike and great views!

trail running
10 months ago

I come here to trail run twice a week. Such a beautiful place and every now and then...your lucky enough to see a Condor.

11 months ago

Love it!!!!

Monday, April 24, 2017

There were beautiful wildflowers and stunning views.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

WARNING the north west side just after the caves is totally flooded. You will not be able to complete the loop unless you cross the water knee deep at 7-10 crossing points.

hiking
Sunday, January 22, 2017

Super pretty trail! We went to the old pinnacles trail to the juniper canyon trail and then went down bear gulch trail back to our car. Next time I would do the hike backwards and start at bear gulch. The incline was difficult, there are lots of switchbacks. And if you've already been hiking for 6 miles, going uphill is tiring. The views are definitely worth it though once you get to the top towards the peaks. Can't wait to go back!

hiking
Wednesday, January 18, 2017

We hiked for 12 miles, I think we stumbled onto the trail and did not figure out the loop Part, we had to back track. We eventually came to some small caves to explore. Which you can do, despite how scary it looks in the pitch black.

Thursday, January 05, 2017

This loop is very beautiful and moderately difficult. Highly recommended.

Friday, December 23, 2016

spectacular hike ,amazing place all around ..i visited in late dec was cold at night but sunny and fairly warm all day for perfect hiking weather ..must see the caves and balconies route is great too .can make it a short or long hike ,but check it out .. thoroughly enjoyed every minute ..I will be back

hiking
Sunday, November 13, 2016

This park is amazing and I can't wait to come back. Do yourself a favor and check out both of the caves as well as doing the full high peaks trek. Bring plenty of water. The scenery is just jaw dropping and crawling through caves with flashlights was just too much fun.

hiking
Monday, November 07, 2016

The best part was the views in the High Peaks, the Cave trails and the reservoir. The northern half of the loop is a little less eventful. The warm and dry air was a nice change from the colder Bay air.

Monday, September 05, 2016

Wow! What an amazing view. This trail kicked my butt. I didn't bring enough water. So if you hike this in summer - hydrate! :) it was a spontaneous trip for me and I didn't realize it was so steep. I can't wait to hike this one again!

Sunday, May 01, 2016

Breathtaking

Monday, January 11, 2016

Amazing•Nice cool day!

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Great hike. Make sure you bring plenty of water with you during the summer months. The rock formations are stunning. Well worth the trip. It's too bad camping is not allowed up top. That would make it a five star spot.

hiking
Friday, August 07, 2015

I've been hiking here most of my life because it is located in my hometown'a backyard. The climate varies with the seasons. In the summer, the area becomes very hot and very dry. In the winter, it is mostly cold throughout the day. Some trails go through caves while others only wind through trees. I suggest bringing plenty of water, using proper footwear and wearing lots of sun screen.

hiking
Tuesday, May 26, 2015

hiking
Wednesday, May 13, 2015

This was an awesome hike, I have done both the Gulch and Pinnacles side! Go right after it has rained, the waterfalls and caves are beautiful.

hiking
Monday, April 20, 2015

This is a great hike. It's moderate climb to the high peaks. The caves are really cool. If you go through the east entrance you can go any time of day or night which is awesome for photography. I spent about 6 hours hiking here. I would definitely go back. The park is clean and the Rangers are friendly.

hiking
Saturday, April 04, 2015

Rising out of the Gabilan Mountains along the San Andreas Fault Zone, are the spectacular remains of part of an ancient volcanic field. The area is teaming with unique wildlife including the endangered California Condor.

Beginning from the Bear Gulch parking lot, we started this hike up the Bear Gulch trail. This trail meanders under the shade of Sycamore trees, which leads to the Bear Gulch Cave trail. Apparently this area is home to a colony of big-eared bat species (which find refuge year round in the caves), including the California Red-legged Frog (which is the largest native frog in the Western US region), in addition to over 400 different species of bees, (which is the largest diversity of bees in North America). Although this trail was so heavily populated with families (with younger kids) that we simply smiled when we finally turned and continued up the much steeper High Peaks Trail. This trail ascends along the ridge through meadows of grass and Manzanita trees. The views along this trail of the volcanic spires are simply amazing. This whole area is a must for any photography buffs. Once at the top of Scott Peak (2605 feet) you can view the other side of surrounding valley towards the ocean (and also has limited cell phone coverage if needed). We had a quick snack and then continued up High Peaks Trail in hopes of spotting the elusive California Condor.

Near the top of the peaks there is a very steep and narrow section that has hand rails for extra support (for both physically and mentally). This is the point where we found a team of Biologists watching through binoculars of two Condors perched in the cliffs. Look for the white wash (droppings) on the rock ledges to spot their nesting areas. Then suddenly both Condors lifted off and starting soaring in the warm thermal updrafts. With wing spans of up to 9 feet across, we watched in amazement as they soared directly above us (more photo opportunities). Shortly thereafter they landed again and we continued up the trail to Hawkins Peak (2720 feet) and then turned onto Condor Gulch Trail which starts the descent of the trail back down to the parking area (and the familiar sounds of young families again). Take lots of water (and then some extra water) and be prepared for hot weather. It was 83 degrees at Scott Peak at around 1300 hours (at the end of March).

Hike Stats (All Trails app coverage not available): Approx. 7.6 mile loop, 2,800 feet elevation ascent/decent, with total time of six hours (including stops).

scenic driving
Thursday, June 26, 2014

Love this place. Have visited about 3 times. Hiking, climbing, oohing and aahing. Love it.

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