What I did in Pinnacles NP 10/27-28

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zacjust32
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What I did in Pinnacles NP 10/27-28

Post by zacjust32 » Tue Oct 24, 2017 5:41 pm

NOTE:For pictures of my trip scroll down a bit.

Hey all,
I'm heading to the east part of Pinnacles NP this Friday/Saturday and I'm looking for things to do. Obviously the caves are the main attraction, but if there's any specific trail or place I have to see let me know. I haven't found any pictures or reports here so I'll make sure to post one when I get back.
Last edited by zacjust32 on Sat Oct 28, 2017 9:30 pm, edited 1 time in total.








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maverick
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Re: What to do in Pinnacles NP?

Post by maverick » Tue Oct 24, 2017 5:52 pm

Here's a few: :)
http://www.highsierratopix.com/communit ... les#p64419
http://www.highsierratopix.com/communit ... =pinnacles

PS My favorites are the caves and the High Peaks area, if there longer, then Chalone Peak. :nod:
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I don't give out specific route information, my belief is that it takes away from the whole adventure spirit of a trip, if you need every inch planned out, you'll have to get that from someone else.

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Re: What to do in Pinnacles NP?

Post by Wandering Daisy » Wed Oct 25, 2017 9:55 am

I do not believe they allow backcountry camping. We stayed at the campground on the east side. It is reasonably priced and rarely full and quite nice. From there you can hike good long loop routes and see a lot. In fact you can hike nearly to the west side trailhead and then return to the east.

The area is also know for its sport climbing- there are numerous bolted routes.

We went in December on a trip between Christmas and New Years and the weather was perfect. I imagine it would be too hot in the summer.

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Re: What to do in Pinnacles NP?

Post by wildhiker » Wed Oct 25, 2017 12:53 pm

Do the entire High Peaks loop, which also includes walking through the Bear Creek caves (bring flashlights). Keep an eye out for condors (bring binoculars). In addition to seeing some soaring in the distance, we saw one a few years ago perched on a rock about 30 feet above us, completely unconcerned with the hikers passing below it on the trail. It was really big.
-Phil

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Re: What to do in Pinnacles NP?

Post by zacjust32 » Wed Oct 25, 2017 1:48 pm

Wandering Daisy wrote:I do not believe they allow backcountry camping. We stayed at the campground on the east side. It is reasonably priced and rarely full and quite nice. From there you can hike good long loop routes and see a lot. In fact you can hike nearly to the west side trailhead and then return to the east.
wildhiker wrote:Do the entire High Peaks loop, which also includes walking through the Bear Creek caves (bring flashlights). Keep an eye out for condors (bring binoculars).
-Phil
I have reservations at the campground Friday night. And I don't even need to drive anywhere to get to a trailhead! Thanks for the suggestions, keep em coming.

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Re: What to do in Pinnacles NP?

Post by wildhiker » Wed Oct 25, 2017 11:16 pm

Yes, technically you can start hiking right from the campground, but the first couple of miles are just paralleling the road. Better to drive up to the Bear Gulch visitor center and start hiking there. That's where we start the High Peaks loop - up the Condor Gulch Trail - a more scenic route than starting at the Chalone Creek trailhead to the east (closer to the campground). On the other hand, if you are the type who likes a long dayhike, you could start at Chalone Creek trailhead, hike the full east to west length of the High Peaks trail, descend the Juniper Canyon trail (my favorite in the spring) to the western side, then back on the route down Chalone Creek through the Balconies caves. We always seem to visit Pinnacles on the way to or from somewhere else, with only part of a day in the park, so we generally do a shorter loop from the Bear Gulch visitor center.
-Phil

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Re: What to do in Pinnacles NP?

Post by dave54 » Thu Oct 26, 2017 10:33 am

If you camp on the east side, don't exit the Park and drive to the west side to visit the caves. That is a several hour drive just to save a few miles of easy hiking on good trails.

Timing is crucial. Depending on the bats, the caves are either totally closed, partially open, or fully open.
In a few places the caves are quite a serpentine scramble and a tight squeeze. I had to remove my day pack and drag it behind me in one spot. Not difficult and the route is marked. I thought it was fun.
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What I did in Pinnacles NP 10/27-28

Post by zacjust32 » Sat Oct 28, 2017 8:55 pm

Thanks all for the suggestions. I got to the park around noon on Friday and checked in to my site. I drove to Bear Gulch and visited the caves. The upper caves were a bit tight and I had to crawl in quite a few spaces. Exiting the caves I stopped at the reservoir and did something I never do when hiking: stopped. I took a nap, read a little of The Lord of the Rings and generally lounged around for a couple hours. I returned via the rim trail. I wasn't sure what my campsite would be like but as luck would have it I was surrounded by trees and shrubs amidst an otherwise desert. No generator in the campground made a quiet evening.

ImageTunnel in the rock

ImageDeep inside the rocks

ImageGoing under rocks

Imagewater next to rocks

ImageTall pointy rocks

Saturday morning I parked again at Bear Gulch and headed up the recommended High Peaks Trail. I was in the shadow of the hills in the early morning but noticed the temperature change halfway up the climb. Reaching the ridge I got much better views of the pinnacles than I did yesterday. I continued on and climbed up the switchbacks in the increasing heat. I was amazed to see a bathroom at the top, but did nothing to investigate further. I scrambled to the top of a formation there and got some pretty awesome views of the park.

ImagePinnaclesPano3

ImagePinnaclesSelfiePano

From there I continued on the some of the most impressive trail building I've seen. Several sections of steps blasted out of the rock going near vertical in some places. Cliffs encroached over the trail and I was glad the handrails were there.

ImageHole in the rock

ImageSome stairs on a big rock

ImageTrail next to rocks

ImageSome dude by stairs on rocks

I kept my eyes open for condors but didn't see any despite the rangers saying they were fairly common. Even thoug there were no birds, the rocks were abundant. I made my way back down the Condor Gulch trail and was glad I started so early as I passed dozens of hikers making their way up the hot brushy canyon.

ImageView of rocks

ImagePinnaclesPano2

ImagePinnaclesPano1

ImageSome rocks

Having never been to the park I'm glad I decided to go. It's a small enough park to easily hit the hotspots in a day and see 90% of it in a weekend trip. I think next time I'll do the Chalone Peak Trail; I caught glimpses of the lookout from the High Peaks Trail and would like to investigate.

Link to my full blog post and more trip reports: zacjust.blogspot.com

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Re: What I did in Pinnacles NP 10/27-28

Post by dave54 » Sun Oct 29, 2017 1:24 pm

Although backcountry camping is not allowed, I did stumble across a couple of trip reports a few years ago. One hiked to South Chalone Peak, then cross country to the South Wilderness Trail with a stealth overnight bivouac. Another went up the North Wilderness Trail and cross country exiting the Park at the north boundary and La Gloria Road, again with a stealth overnight. Not legal, but evidently people have done it.

When we went we stayed at the campground in an RV, did Bear Gulch one day, then the Old Pinnacles Trail and Balconies Trail the next. We enjoyed the wild turkeys. I saw some proposed new trails were in the comment stage. Do not know their status. I want to go back sometime in the Spring.
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Re: What I did in Pinnacles NP 10/27-28

Post by rhyang » Thu Nov 09, 2017 4:41 pm

Great pictures. I used to spend a lot of time there in the spring and fall climbing. There are some insanely fun routes on some of those formations, and some great climbing history.

A word of warning: springtime can be crazy, and it gets hard to find parking without a really early start.

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