Central Coast Camping and RVing Information

High Peaks – Condor Gulch Loop

high-peaks trailThe High Peaks of Pinnacles National Park (formerly known as Pinnacles National Monument) are a one of a kind collection of sky-pointed spires that provide fascinating scenery and a robust hiking experience. The adventurous hike across the top of the Pinnacles crosses a steep, narrow, and impressively constructed trail that is a highlight of any visit to the park. The High Peaks can be reached from the east or west entrance (There are no roads traveling across Pinnacles National Park). The heart of the rugged park is only accessible on foot via a well-maintained network of trails. There are a few routes to choose from incorporating the High Peaks. One excellent option is a loop beginning on the east side of the park, which travels up High Peaks Trail, across the Pinnacles, and down Condor Gulch Trail. This is a 5.35 or 6-mile hike (depending on whether or not you include a visit to Bear Gulch Reservoir (and you should)). There is 1,325 feet of elevation difference between the top and bottom of the trail.

Begin at the Bear Gulch Day Use Area and hike south toward Bear Gulch Reservoir. If you are skipping the reservoir, the directions are simple. Make a right at every junction you come to heading clockwise around the loop.

To visit the reservoir, turn left at the junction 0.2 miles from the start and hike just over half a mile to the reservoir. There is an option along the way to hike up Moses Spring Trail or Bear Gulch Cave Trail. Both are worthwhile, but the Cave Trail should not be missed if it is open. From the reservoir, turn north up Ridge Trail, which provides nice views as it backtracks above Bear Gulch for 0.4 miles to a junction with High Peaks Trail. Turn left here, joining the single track coming up from the first trail junction, 0.3 miles below.

Important to note that almost two dozen California condors have been identified at Pinnacle National Park, accessible through Hollister or Soledad. The most likely place to see them is the High Peaks in early morning or early evening. For easier access, they also hang out on the ridge just south of the campground, where they soar on morning thermals along the ridge and roost in the trees. For more information about condors visit Pinnacles National Park.

For more information and photos visit Hikespeak.com>

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