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North Wilderness Trail

Intermediate

Trail

6.8 mile 10.9 kilometer point to point
Intermediate

Elevation

Ascent: 728' 222 m
Descent: -1,037' -316 m
High: 2,089' 637 m
Low: 1,074' 327 m

Grade

Avg Grade: 5% (3°)
Max Grade: 27% (15°)

Dogs

No Dogs
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Trail shared by QuinTCM TCM

An open, exposed, and rarely traveled trail that offers a view into Pinnacles Nat'l Park wilderness.

QuinTCM TCM

Features Birding · River/Creek · Wildflowers

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

Description

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.

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Check-Ins

Oct 18, 2019
Elisha Polomski
not a grt trail... i started from old pinnacles trlhd. the next 3 hrs were brushy, overgrown with grass, large trees down, and at times the trail w… 10.3mi
Mar 16, 2019
Megan Davidson
7mi — 1h 20m
Feb 27, 2016
David Hitchcock
Finished North Wilderness trail, going in the reverse direction. 11 Mile roundtrip through the cave. 6.8mi
Feb 12, 2016
Graham Lambert
Had the trail to ourselves 9.5mi — 3h 23m

Trail Ratings

  2.8 from 4 votes

#32385

Overall
  2.8 from 4 votes
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Trail Rankings

#3,728

in California

#32,385

Overall
31 Views Last Month
1,539 Since Jun 1, 2015
Intermediate

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Photos

Pinnacles National Park on the Balconies trail.
Feb 2, 2016 near Soledad, CA
The Balconies Trail is stunning.
May 26, 2015 near Soledad, CA
Looking towards Machete Ridge from the Balconies Trail.
Feb 27, 2016 near Soledad, CA
Some rocks along Balconies Trail.
May 26, 2015 near Soledad, CA
As you move downhill, you can see the North Wilderness trail off in the distance.
Feb 27, 2016 near Soledad, CA
This is the last crossing of the North Fork of the Chalone Creek (or first depending on what way you are traveling).  If you are headed to the high peaks area, the trail starts to climb at this point.
Feb 27, 2016 near Soledad, CA

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