Pinnacles in a day

Just before New Year’s Eve, Stephanie and I returned to Pinnacles National Monument to go hiking. We’d previously traveled there on one of our first trips together, and had a great time. Turns out the place really left a mark on Stephanie—she’s wanted to go back ever since.

The park has two entrances that don’t connect (for cars), so you have to decide about an hour away which side you want to enter on. The last time we came in from Soledad on the west side, so this time we drove down from Hollister to enter on the east. Also, last time we got there kind of late in the day, which only gave us time for a short hike. This time we got there early enough to get a significant hike in.

We planned a loop that took us through the Bear Gulch “caves,” up to the High Peaks, and then around back to where we started, about 6 miles in all.

Pinnacles National Monument trail map for the High Peaks

It was also one of the first chances I had to put my new camera through its paces outdoors, including the new wide angle lens my parents got me for Christmas. Unfortunately the low winter sun and morning cloud cover didn’t make for the best light, but I got a few good shots.

Pinnacles National Monument, sign reads: Caution, flashlights required, low ceilings, slippery when wet
Pinnacles National Monument pathway through the rocks
Pinnacles National Monument giant rock suspended above a staircase
Stephanie on a staircase at Pinnacles National Monument
Justin in wide angle at Pinnacles National Monument
View from the High Peaks of Pinnacles National Monument
Justin and Stephanie at Pinnacles National Monument

Here are some cool macro focus shots:

Red streaks in manzanita bark
Colorful lichens
Waterdrops on a leaf


April Kissel

My favorite place in the entire world.


beautiful pictures. i’m planning on going hiking there for the first time.


Hi, we are planning a day trip next weekend. Which way did you come in where you were able to take the loop hike? Or does it matter? Great pictures!

Sue, really either side is fine. The west side (from Soledad) has more beautiful views as you enter the park, but has the same access to the loop trail described in the map.


Just checking back with an update. It was a great hike! We started at the Juniper Canyon Trail and went counterclockwise which seemed to be against the flow, but that was fine with us! As we got closer to the parking lot we’d left 4 hours earlier we were starting to worry that we’d missed the caves. NOPE! Wow it was so worth the hike! And we were glad it was at the end of our hike rather than the start, sort of a reward, and also a nice way to cool down!
BTW this is one of the first blogs that comes up when googling.
Our next big adventure is Bear Paw Tent Cabins, we were lucky enough to get in on the phone in January. My husband is going to do some Yosemite hiking and Half Dome again, as well as Mt. Whitney.


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