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High Peaks Trail

Difficult
 5.0 (8)

The trail climbs to incredible views of the unique rock formations that give the park its name.


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Map Key

5.0

Miles

8.1

KM

Point to Point

2,585' 788 m

High

1,032' 315 m

Low

1,419' 433 m

Up

1,793' 547 m

Down

12%

Avg Grade (7°)

82%

Max Grade (39°)

Dogs No Dogs

Features Birding · Views · Wildflowers

Family Friendly Kids would definitely enjoy the Steep and Narrow Section of this trail. It is the getting there and the getting back that they might not enjoy.

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

Description

From the trailhead at the junction with the Moses Spring Trail, follow this gradually ascending trail as it moves past chaparral-covered hillsides and lichen covered rock formations. Pass the junction for the Rim Trail and continue on up past the obvious rock formations called The Carousel and The Anvil. Passing The Anvil, the trail opens up with a gulch on the southwest side of the trail and a series of pinnacles on the north-east side. The most recognizable of the pinnacles to the northeast are Pipsqueak Pinnacle and The Snout. In the gulch to the southwest, look for a pinnacle called The Unmentionable, named thus for obvious reasons.

Continuing along, the trail levels out for a short distance and a cliff face called Pinch or Lynch Wall can bee seen up beyond on the trail and slightly to the left. The trail eventually leads to a small man-made tunnel near the rock formations called Sew What Needles. Looking northeast, formations like The Flat-Iron, Salathe's Sliver, Nelson's Needle, and Generation Gap Pinnacle are easily visible. At this point, the trail begins to make a more steep ascent through a series of switchbacks before it levels out at the junction with the Tunnel Trail and the Steep and Narrow Section of the High Peaks Trail. A small bathroom is located here as well. It is also possible to access Scout Peak (2,605 ft, 794m) by hiking off-trail from this location.

The Steep and Narrow section of the High Peaks Trail consists of narrow stairs carved into the rock by the Civilian Conservation Corps in the 1930s, as well as narrow passages protected by wooden walkways that pass over steep cliffs. This is indeed the highlight of the High Peaks Trail. Many rock formations are easily seen from this section of the trail, the most notable being Photographer's Delight, Long's Folly, The Fingers, and Condor Crags.

Following the Steep and Narrow Section, the trail meets the junction with the Tunnel Trail before opening up and descending towards Condor Gulch and the junction with the Condor Gulch Trail. Continue past the Condor Gulch Trail and chaparral-covered hillsides to where the trail ends at the Bench Trail.

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.

Wildflowers 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.

Contacts

Shared By:

QuinTCM TCM

Trail Ratings

  5.0 from 8 votes

#299

Overall
  5.0 from 8 votes
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Trail Rankings

#34

in California

#299

Overall
16 Views Last Month
2,171 Since Apr 10, 2015
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Photos

Beautiful views on High Peaks Trail!
Jan 27, 2016 near Soledad, CA
A juvenile california condor, as evidenced by the black head, glides on thermals around the High Peaks.
Dec 1, 2018 near Soledad, CA
The heart of Pinnacles National Park
Oct 14, 2017 near Soledad, CA
Pinnacles National Park  - High Peaks Trail.
May 22, 2016 near Soledad, CA
Condor 606 (Black 6) soars above the High Peaks. You can tell it is a condor by the white triangle under the wings instead of the all the feathers being white on the tips.
Dec 1, 2018 near Soledad, CA
California Condor hanging out on the high peaks trail.
Feb 24, 2016 near Soledad, CA

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Check-Ins

May 11, 2020
Mike Nugent
Went around Tunnels
Feb 9, 2020
Bruce Miao
Great view, cave, mountain, lake, all different view 6.3mi
Jan 19, 2020
Melissa Dalis
Apr 28, 2019
Cathy M.
Bear Gulch parking lot to Moses Spring Trail to lower Bear Gulch Cave Trail to rim trail to high peaks Trail to Condor Gulch to car. 6mi — 3h 30m
Apr 1, 2019
Dan P
Oct 28, 2018
Steven Liu
May 18, 2018
Jake Hall
May 7, 2018
Jessica Mutschler