Condor Gulch to High Peaks, Pinnacles National Park- Soledad, California
Amazing rock formation from volcanic eruptions millions of years ago gave this hidden gem to Central California — Pinnacles National Park it is the newest and one of the smallest National Parks in the country.
Tribe was all set to go into the Sierras for a camping and hiking trip when the first winter storm came in with snow, rain, road closures and more. Yet again Option B had to kick in, year 2020 seems to be all about pleasant discoveries offered by Option B. Indeed tribes trip into the Pinnacles National Park was just that, and the realization that there is so much more to come back for — rock climbing, camping, wildlife watching, hiking or just a quick getaway from the Bay Area. Pinnacles National Park is home to California Condors, Big-eared bats and was formed due to movement in the tectonics plates along the San Andreas fault. Given this fault line is still active the park is still moving and has travelled a few hundred miles. (https://www.nationalgeographic.com/travel/national-parks/pinnacles-national-park/). The park has a east and west entrance and those are not connected by road through the park.
Park ranger recommended we do the Condor Gulch trail to High Peak and a detour into the Bear Gulch Reservoir, this is about a 7 miles loop. The trail starts off on a gradual climb, less than half a mile into the hike you start to see the rock formations. Soon enough the views continue to become expansive and formation more interesting. The chill from the snow in the Sierras was rolling in and it was a bit cold and windy. The trail is well marked with a few intersections to various other connecting trails, tribe stayed on the high peaks trail. The rock formation are in abundance, highly accessible and so interesting to climb on.
Across the park tribe came across many groups of rock climbers honing their skills on the pinnacles. As the tribe reached this rather narrow and steep part of the high peaks trail, the wind picked up and it started to hail, right then a California Condor, a species of vultures with a nine-and-a-half-foot wingspan flew over our heads. WoW, what a beauty!! We looked around to see another three perched beautifully on a nearby rock.
Rock climbers mecca, hikers paradise and nature enthusiasts happy place — Pinnacles National Park
Here is where the most interesting part of the hike begins, traversing through a steep rock, with a side rail to hold onto and extremely small foot holding in the rock. This is a two way street, the line had to wait for the hikers coming down this narrow path, there is room for only one at a time. At places it gets so narrow that it requires hugging the rock, bending, scrambling to go past. The metal rails were cold (will be super hot in the summer), would have been better to have gloves. Past this point, it was time for lunch with a view. The steep path down the rock on the other side will continue the loop, it requires careful navigation and slow movement to ensure safety. All along this geological miracle continues to amaze with its formations. The detour to the Bear Gulch Reservoir and back adds about 0.8 miles, but so worth it. This section of the Rim Trail passes through some interesting vegetation with moss covered rocks, through the picnic areas onto the parking lot.
Surely coming back for the caves which were closed and some more discovering of this beautiful park.
Learning’s from the tribe — There is so much magic that exits around us, its important for us to reach out feel it. Happy Trails!