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. 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.

Bear Gulch Cave Pinnacles National Park
Stairs from Bear Gulch Cave up to Bear Gulch Reservoir

Most of Pinnacles National Park is located in San Benito County, but a small section at the south end drifts into Monterey County. Roads enter Pinnacles National Park from the east and west, but no road travels through the park. This leaves the heart of the park accessible only to hikers.

  • Explore talus caves on both sides of the park, surrounded by unique rock formations
  • In the middle of the park, hike across the High Peaks on a boldly engineered trail over a jagged 2,500-foot ridge

High Peaks Trail and the trails trough the caves are favorites for California hikers. One campground in Pinnacles National Park services those staying overnight.

High Peaks Trail Pinnacles National Park
High Peaks Trail

Hiking in Pinnacles National Park

This selection of hikes in Pinnacles National Park, with links to complete write-ups, includes the average rating compiled by users of hikespeak.com (although the creator of hikespeak feels that each of these ratings deserve to be higher). Find your favorite hike in Pinnacles and then come back and share a comment or a rating!

Pinnacles National Park Balconies Cave

ForgettableAverageGoodGreatUnforgettableThis 2 to 2.4-mile hike starting from Chaparral Trailhead on the west side of Pinnacles National Park ventures down Balconies Trail past impressive rock formations and through a fun talus cave.
High Peaks Balconies Cave Loop Pinnacles National Park

ForgettableAverageGoodGreatUnforgettableThis extensive 9-mile loop ventures between the east and west sides of Pinnacles National Park, crossing through the High Peaks and Balconies Cave.

ForgettableAverageGoodGreatUnforgettableThis 5.3 to 6-mile loop crosses the roof of Pinnacles National Park on an incredible journey.
High Peaks Condor Gulch Loop Pinnacles National Park

ForgettableAverageGoodGreatUnforgettableThis 1.5-mile hike passes through a talus cave to reach a reservoir on the east side of Pinnacles National Park.
Pinnacles National Park Bear Gulch Trail

 

Camping in Pinnacles National Park

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

 

hikespeak
Reservoir Canyon Trail Summit Trail Loop San Luis Obispo Hike Bowden Ranch Reservoir Canyon Open Space
If you've hiked up the hill east of downtown San Luis Obispo on Reservoir Canyon Trail or Summit Trail, you've probably pondered the prospect of connecting the two hikes in order to spend more time enjoying grand views over San Luis Obispo County. Follow Reservoir Canyon Trail up to a stone bench viewpoint, cross Ridge Trail to an old tower housing a bell, and descend... Read more.
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Tagged with · Free Trails · Summits
Distance: 5.6 miles · Elevation change: 1350 feet
By: Published: Last updated: July 13, 2017
Reservoir Canyon Summit Trail San Luis Obispo Hike to High School Hill Tower Bowden Ranch Open Space
You'll give a ringing endorsement to this San Luis Obispo hike! Reservoir Canyon's Summit Trail ascends to sweeping panoramas over San Luis Obispo and an old tower with a bell that you can ring with a pebble. The hike from Reservoir Canyon to the High School Hill Tower is 4.1 miles round trip with 1,175 feet of elevation change. Expand your horizons from there by... Read more.
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Tagged with · Free Trails · Summits
Distance: 4.1 miles · Elevation change: 1175 feet
By: Published: Last updated: July 13, 2017
Hazard Peak Bloody Nose Trail Hiedra Trail Hazard Peak Trail Hike Montaña de Oro State Park Hike California
The panoramic summit of Hazard Peak in Montaña de Oro State Park has excellent coastal views. Hazard Peak Trail is the most obvious route to the top and a great choice, rising to the 1,076-foot summit over 3 miles. A junction partway up Hazard Peak Trail makes it possible to add a couple other trails to the approach. Bloody Nose Trail and Hiedra Trail are a combined... Read more.
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Tagged with · California State Parks · Free Trails · Irish Hills · Los Osos · Ocean Views · Montaña de Oro State Park
Distance: 5.55 miles · Elevation change: 950 feet
By: Published: Last updated: May 20, 2017
South Dune Trail Bloody Nose Trail Hiedra Trail Hazard Peak Trail Loop Montaña de Oro State Park Hike Hiedra Trail Loop Los Osos California
Hikes in Montaña de Oro State Park travel along the coast or delve inland into canyons and up peaks. If you want a mix of hiking environments, consider this four-trail loop, which combines South Dune Trail, Bloody Nose Trail, Hiedra Trail, and Hazard Peak Trail for a 2 2/3 mile round trip hike with a little over 300 feet of elevation change. This loop can be added to the... Read more.
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Tagged with · California State Parks · Free Trails · Irish Hills · Los Osos · Ocean Views · Montaña de Oro State Park
Distance: 2.67 miles · Elevation change: 310 feet
By: Published: Last updated: May 20, 2017
Rinconada Trail Hike Santa Lucia Mountains Los Padres National Forest Bell Mountain Rinconada Hiking Trail Santa Margarita California
Rising through grassy meadows, oak woodlands, and chaparral slopes, Rinconada Trail provides North County access to the Santa Lucia Mountains in Los Padres National Forest. Gaze over bucolic valleys on the hike up to a high point in a grassy mountain pass with views over remote ridges and canyons in the Santa Lucia Wilderness. Turn around at an overlook by the crest of... Read more.
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Tagged with · Free Trails · Los Padres National Forest · Santa Lucia Mountains · Santa Margarita · Summits
Distance: 3 miles · Elevation change: 625 feet
By: Published: Last updated: June 1, 2017