“An open, exposed, and rarely traveled trail that offers a view into Pinnacles Nat'l Park wilderness.”
— QuinTCM TCM
Check for raptor closures before attempting any off-trail hiking or climbing.
Features: Birding — River/Creek — Wildflowers
Dogs: No Dogs
This is an unmaintained trail that is, for the majority of its course, fairly easy to follow. Rock cairns often help identify the trail when its path appears less obvious.
The trailhead is accessed on the west side of the park at the north end of the Chaparral Picnic Area. The trail begins by heading north and running parallel to a usually dry creek bed before turning away from the creek bed and ascending to the highest point along a ridgeline. After gaining this point, the trail descends along the ridgeline and eventually meets the North Fork of Chalone Creek, where it turns east. From here, the trail runs parallel to and often crosses over the usually dry creek bed as it continues eastward, making a slow and gradual turn to the south. The trail ends where it meets Old Pinnacles Trail
Though the creek bed is typically dry, there may be water in the creek following rain storms and during more rainy parts of the year.
This trail does not offer the same stunning views of the rock formations that give Pinnacles National Park its name. However, this trail is an excellent way to get away from the crowds and experience the wilderness of Pinnacles National Park and the Gabilan Mountains.
This trail is open and exposed. Bring lots of water!
Flora & Fauna
Pinnacles National Park 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 National Park 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.