Hikes in Pinnacles National Park

Pinnacles National Park (known as Pinnacles National Monument until 2013) is located in the Salinas Valley east of the 101 Freeway near the cities of Salinas, Soledad, and King City. Most of Pinnacles National Park is located in San Benito County, but a small section at the south end drifts into Monterey County The over 26,000-acre park protects a distinct pocket of inland mountains that is not connected to the larger Santa Lucia Range to the west. This isolated park packs surprising beauty, with peaks formed by volcanoes along the San Andreas Fault that are distinct from the surrounding landscape. There are roads entering the park from the east and west, but no road travels through the park. This leaves the heart of the park accessible only to hikers. There are talus caves on both sides of the park surrounded by unique rock formations. A boldly engineered trail across the 2,500-foot peaks at the top of the Pinnacles is a favorite trek for California hikers. Trails through the caves are popular as well.

Hiking in Pinnacles National Park

Pinnacles National Park Balconies CaveBalconies Cave
This 2 to 2.4-mile hike venture down Balconies Trail past impressive rock formations and through a fun talus cave, starting from Chaparral Trailhead on the west side of Pinnacles National Park.
High Peaks Balconies Cave Loop Pinnacles National ParkHigh Peaks – Balconies Cave Loop
This extensive 9-mile loop ventures between the east and west sides of Pinnacles National Park, crossing through the High Peaks and Balconies Cave.
Pinnacles National Park High Peaks TrailHigh Peaks – Condor Gulch Loop
This 5.3 to 6-mile loop crosses the roof of Pinnacles National Park on an incredible trail.
Pinnacles National Park Bear Gulch TrailBear Gulch Reservoir
This 1.5-mile hike passes through a talus cave to reach a reservoir on the east side of Pinnacles National Park.

 

Camping in Pinnacles National Park

Pinnacles National Park CampgroundPinnacles Campground
Pinnacles National Park has one campground with tent, RV, and group sites in an oak woodland on the east side of the park.

 

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Old Prospector Trail Pond Trail Loop Irish Hills Natural Area San Luis Obispo Prospector Hill Hike
Today the Irish Hills are like a gold mine for hikers, but the small mountain range in San Luis Obispo historically hosted several mines for chromium and mercury. The ruins of one of these mines can be visited on Old Prospector Trail, which opened in 2015 to join the growing group of trails in Irish Hills Natural Reserve. This hikers-only single track starts in Froom... Read more.
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Distance: 4.4 miles – Elevation change: 650 feet
By: hikespeak Last updated: March 18, 2015
Visit Montaña de Oro State Park Hiking Trails San Luis Obispo California
Montaña de Oro State Park has dramatic ocean bluffs and summits with sweeping views. The park covers over 8,000 acres and has 7 miles of undeveloped coastline, making it a rare treasure on the California Coast. There is one road into the park, entering from the north from the town of Los Osos, which is just west of the city of San Luis Obispo. For those staying... Read more.
By: hikespeak Last updated: February 9, 2015
Cuesta Ridge Botanical Area hike West Cuesta Ridge Road San Luis Obispo Los Padres National Forest Cuesta Ridge Trail
Discover a tucked-away oasis of Sargent cypress straddling a ridge in the Santa Lucia Mountains north of San Luis Obispo. The evergreens are accompanied by coastal views that could have you imagining you're somewhere further north in California. The hike to Cuesta Ridge Botanical Special Interest Area is 6 miles round trip up a partially paved road with 950 feet of... Read more.
By: hikespeak Last updated: February 7, 2015
Inspiration Point Tunnel Road Hike Tunnel Trail Jesusita Trail Inspiration Viewpoint Santa Barbara California Santa Ynez Mountains Mission Canyon
Located in the Santa Ynez Mountains, 1,800-feet above the Santa Barbara Coast, Inspiration Point attracts hikers with panoramic views over city and sea. Two routes lead to this picturesque perch. If you want to make a day of it, you can approach the viewpoint from the west on a moderate 7.55-mile round trip trek up Jesusita Trail to Inspiration Point from San Roque Road. ... Read more.
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Distance: 3.75 miles – Elevation change: 825 feet
By: hikespeak Last updated: January 28, 2015
Coon Creek Trail Montaña de Oro State Park hike Coon Creek Canyon Montana de Oro San Luis Obispo California
Coon Creek Trail explores a coastal canyon at the south end of Montaña de Oro State Park. The trail heads inland for 2.5 miles to a pleasant grove of Monterey cypress at the site of an old homestead that has since disappeared. Take a break in the shade of the cypress trees before turning around for a 5-mile round trip hike with 250 feet of elevation gain. Junctions... Read more.
By: hikespeak Last updated: February 23, 2015