Hiking through Pinnacles National Park

Pinnacles National Park It is one of many wonders that the state of California in the U.S. The amount of national parks and State parks, the latter is the closest thing to the natural park we know, makes this area an ideal place to spend weeks practicing our favorite sport, the trekking.

Hiking through Pinnacles National Park

Hiking through Pinnacles National Park

Pinnacles National Park It is a national park with volcanic past located 200 kilometers south of the city of San Francisco, between the towns of Soledad and San Benito. This has two access entrances, one in the east and one in the west, the first being the most used. As is the norm in many parks, you can enter at any time you want but the visitor center usually has a restricted schedule and where you must pay the entrance fees that comes to be about 15$ per vehicle The schedule in this case is from 9:30 am - 5:00 pm.

The park has numerous routes, both for cycling, hiking and even climbing. All adapted for all types of levels, from those who prefer to go with children to those who are looking for more physically demanding routes, the so-called “Strenuous". The latter was the type we decided to do but in the long run it was not as hard as we initially thought. Our choice was to travel a circular route starting from the west entrance walking through the most representative points of the park, such as via ferrata Very very simple, caves and viewpoints with great views.

Circular route through Pinnacles National Park

November weekend and it is much hotter than expected. We arrive at the town of Soledad and take the detour to the west entrance of the Park, called Chaparral Ranger Station. It is a place with a relatively small parking lot where there is another alternative to a kilometer in case of overbooking. Here there are practically no services, only a bathroom and a few tables, but at least there is a guard who can guide you with routes to choose if we had not stopped before in the visitor center a few kilometers before and where we pay the entrance fees.

Hiking through Pinnacles National Park

It's 9 in the morning and the sun starts to appear in the east. In order not to burn the photos, our circular route began on the opposite side to the sun, west side, or what is the same when starting the route, taking the road to the left in the direction of Balconies Cave Trail, a cave about 150 meters long open on days with little water.

Machete Ridge - Hiking through Pinnacles National Park

Our mission was to go through the cave, so we were armed with fronts in case the brightness was very low. But before reaching this we pass through the imposing Machete Ridge, where brave climbers hung on its vertical wall. Arrived at the entrance of the cave, which was open and with the option of being able to skirt it in case of not carrying enough lighting.

Balconies Cave Trail

We decided to enter and the truth is that it is very simple to be guided by it. There are continuous brands and it is very difficult to get out of them. Even so, if we are not careful enough, it is very easy to put the foot where we should not, since we could end up with water to the knees.

Hiking through Pinnacles National Park

After leaving the cave we took a really monotonous path and where we could occasionally find some animal, especially deer. It is boring and the landscape barely changes until after several kilometers and we reach the Old Pinnacles Trailhead Parking.

Hiking through Pinnacles National Park

Once here, although this really we will not get to step on at any time, we take the detour to the High peaks, Where is he Hawkins peak With 829m height. It is here when the unevenness of the route begins to take shape and the hardness is aggravated, especially thanks to the prevailing heat that day.

Hiking through Pinnacles National Park

Once up, we go through a crossing that goes to Bear gulch, where there is a small lake that we didn't have time to visit. This moment is perhaps the best of the route. The temperature has dropped and the views are great, ideal time to make a stop along the way, knowing that at this point we were halfway.

Hiking through Pinnacles National Park

Now we were in a continuous rise and fall, enjoying rocky moles on both sides that at some point revealed the landscape that was hiding to the west, the great Sierra Nevada where there is Yosemite National Park and the famous San Andreas fault.

Hiking through Pinnacles National Park

We must not forget that we go through several flights of stairs up or down quite steep but also very well insured. Going slowly is more than enough to avoid any danger.

One of the many stairs and railings

In the distance we began to see the exit parking but we knew that we still had a way to go, knowing that we had to climb very close to a peak called Scout Peak.

Hiking through Pinnacles National Park

We arrived at a point where there was a booth with services and that communicated with the road to the lake Bear gulch again. Optionally and something we took advantage of, we climbed a well-marked peak about 300 meters from the place and where we had to climb through a steep slope.

Hiking through Pinnacles National Park

From here we had to see Condors, the world's largest flying bird, but unfortunately that day we didn't see one. This was the only one but we could put the route, after all the place was beautiful and the Condors saw them in Peru a year earlier.

Hiking through Pinnacles National Park

It was only down in the direction of Juniper Canyon, a very fast descent that in just 45 minutes left us in the parking lot. Something less than 5 hours of the route that left us enough time to catch the road and continue enjoying the Californian landscapes.

Juniper Canyon Final

Practical information to visit Pinnacles National Park

Before leaving for the United States

  • United States Planet's Guide
  • Airport Transfers
  • Car rental in USA with a 15% discount
  • The best excursions in the United States

How much?

The entrance fee is 25$ (2018) by vehicle. If you have the annual National Parks sympathizer pass, it is free. This pass, with a cost of 80$ per year, it allows you to enter any national park in the United States for free.

Visiting hours

Any time of the day but the visitor center opens from 9:30 AM until 4: 30/5: 00PM.

Where to buy the ticket?

In the same entrance to the enclosure you have a ticket stand. You can purchase both the entrance to the park and the annual pass.

How to get

We have two options, east and west entrance. Both have enough parking spaces and in case they are filled, additional parking a little further. The east entrance is near the town of San Benito on highway 25. The west entrance in Soledad, leaving the 101 freeway, which connects San Francisco with Los Angeles.

What to wear

In general, California has a mild climate, but it is recommended to bring water since it does not abound throughout the entire route. A map of the area is available in this link.

Other fantastic places near San Francisco?

  • Muir Woods : the closest redwood forest visited from San Francisco.
  • Whale Watching in Monterrey.
  • Alcatraz Island in San Francisco.
  • Big Basin Redwoods : If Muir woods fell short, this is your place.
  • What to see in Yosemite National Park
  • Lake Tahoe

Where to sleep

Camping is allowed in areas enabled for this purpose located at the east entrance in a place called Pinnacles Campground.