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Old Pinnacles Trail

Easy/Intermediate
 3.8 (5)

A flat, moderate trail that follows West Fork Chalone Creek to near Balconies Cave.


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Map Key

2.1

Miles

3.4

KM

Point to Point

1,198' 365 m

High

1,040' 317 m

Low

166' 50 m

Up

19' 6 m

Down

2%

Avg Grade (1°)

7%

Max Grade (4°)

Dogs No Dogs

Features River/Creek · Wildflowers

Family Friendly Though a little longer if intending to go out, make a loop, and come back, the trail is flat and mild. Easy hiking for kids.

Check for raptor closures before attempting any off-trail hiking or climbing.

Description

The trailhead is accessed at the north end of a parking lot where Highway 146 ends on the east side of the park. Follow the trail north around a slight bend, where a bridge crossing over the dry creek bed will come into view. Across this bridge begins the Bench Trail. Don't cross this bridge. Just before reaching the bridge, turn north to stay on the Old Pinnacles Trail. Follow this flat, moderate trail as it snakes along next to West Fork Chalone Creek. The trail slowly turns west, then southwest before terminating at the junction with Balconies Cliffs Trails and Balconies Cave Trail in and area called the Balconies.

Along the route, the trail makes several creek crossings. Although West Fork Chalone Creek is mostly dry, some of these crossings are wet. The first crossing is over a large bridge while all the others will require hopping on rocks or walking around where possible. The water is never more than ankle deep.

Flora & Fauna

Pinnacles is currently one of five release sites for California Condors. The park hosts more than thirty of these scavengers. These birds are best seen in the higher regions of the park and can also often be seen on a hill behind the campsites. Pinnacles is also home to many species of raptors and other birds and is an excellent area for birding.

Wild flowers like Larkspur, California buckeye, Elegant clarkia, California buckwheat, Mariposa lily, Bush poppy, Gray mule-ears, Indian Warrior, California poppy and many others are abundant in spring.

Look for manzanita shrubs interspersed among patches of chaparral.

The park is also home to around 300 different species of lichens, which are easily visible on the many rock formations they color.

Listen for the croaks of the California red-legged frog coming from the creek (especially near the bridge crossings).

Contacts

Shared By:

Quin TCM

Trail Ratings

  3.8 from 5 votes

#14357

Overall
  3.8 from 5 votes
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4 Star
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Trail Rankings

#1,516

in California

#14,357

Overall
22 Views Last Month
1,262 Since Apr 9, 2015
Easy/Intermediate

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Photos

View from Old Pinnacles Trail.
May 20, 2015 near Soledad, CA
The Balconies Trail is sandy in this section, but it is fairly wide and easy to follow.
Feb 27, 2016 near Soledad, CA
After Spring rains, a little more water flows in the creek.
Feb 24, 2016 near Soledad, CA
The Old Pinnacles Trail as it works under the trees.  This path is fairly wide through this part of the park.
Feb 27, 2016 near Soledad, CA
A view above you as you climb the Cliff Trail.
Feb 24, 2016 near Soledad, CA
A typical creek crossing on the Balconies Trail.
Feb 27, 2016 near Soledad, CA

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Current Trail Conditions

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All Clear 59 days ago See History
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Check-Ins

Nov 30, 2021
Maria Cristina Godoy-Asuncion
2.1mi
Sep 12, 2021
斯 巴
Feb 21, 2021
Dylan Payne
Dec 9, 2018
Lisa Incata
Nov 12, 2018
John Yeh
Oct 7, 2018
Stella Winston
With Teddy and Zoey. Added cliffs and cave loop.
Jun 17, 2018
Mike Buoy
May 26, 2018
Judy Huang