August 30, 2008

Pinnacles Hike

We've been wanting to go to Pinnacles National Monument for a while to do some hiking and we finally had a day to head out there. Once in the park we drove past the campground and visitor center and followed the signs to Bear Gulch. We parked at Bear Gulch Day Use Area near the nature center and headed out on the trail. The trailhead to the Condor Gulch Trail is just across from the restrooms. It was early in the day when we started our hike but it did not take long for things to really warm up on the exposed trail. As we hiked up the 1.7 mile stretch of the trail to the Condor Gulch Overlook we got some great views of the pinnacle formations. We stopped here for a short break before heading on to the steeper High Peaks Trail. The trail quickly narrows and as it climbs there are handrails to assist you and keep you from falling. Thankfully this area is much more shaded than Condor Gulch Trail so we were able to explore the pinnacles much more comfortably. As we descended back towards the parking area we had the option to take the detour to the Bear Gulch Cave and explore a series of cool, deep passageways that are completely dark for several sections. Unfortunately we forgot our head lamps and had to skip out on this adventure this time. Once down to level ground we followed the Moses Spring Trail back to our car. The entire hike was 5.3 miles long with an elevation change of 1300 feet. It was a great hike, would do it again (maybe even bring the headlamps next time).