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High Peaks

Difficult

Trail

5.1 mile 8.2 kilometer out and back
Difficult

Elevation

Ascent: 1,444' 440 m
Descent: -1,447' -441 m
High: 2,557' 779 m
Low: 1,281' 390 m

Grade

Avg Grade: 11% (6°)
Max Grade: 54% (28°)

Dogs

No Dogs
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Map Key

Trail shared by Steve Jackson

Hike to rocky peaks and see a California Condor.

Steve Jackson

Features Birding · Views · Wildflowers · Wildlife

Family Friendly Kids will love the ability to scramble on boulders and through the tight-squeezes between them.

Overview

This is a nice hike up to the peaks area with beautiful views and a chance to see the California Condor.

Need to Know

Bring plenty of water. It can be very hot and dry.

Description

This hike goes to the high peaks area and to the namesake of the park, the pinnacles. At the top is a narrow and steep part of the trail. My grandson loved this part. On our hike we were able to see a few California Condors, some perched on the rocks and very close to the trail. Makes sure to look in all directions while hiking. That's how we saw one that would have been missed had we kept looking forward.

The trailhead is accessed from the Bear Gulch Day Use Area across the parking lot from the nature center. A sign marks the beginning of the trail. The trail is open and airy and continually ascends along the edge of Condor Gulch to the west. Follow the well marked path and look for rock formations like The Hippopotamus, Nebulous Knob, Popcorn Pinnacle, and The Three Birds. About half-way along the trail there is an overlook protected by some metal railings. This is a good place to soak in some views of Condor Gulch and perhaps catch a glimpse of some condors. The rock wall to the west of the overlook is called Dutch Goose Wall. Continuing east, the trail ascends before turning north passed Casino Rock, Doodlin' Dody, The Peanuts, The Toes, Dionysian Tower, and Jamcrack Rock. The trail ends where it meets the High Peaks Trail.

Take a left onto the High Peaks Trail - this trail moves past chaparral-covered hillsides and lichen covered rock formations. Keep an eye open for the many obvious rock formations such as the Carousel and the Anvil. 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. The views along this trail feature many varied and interesting pinnacles.

Eventually, you'll loop back to Bear Gulch Trail. This trail gradually descends back to the Bear Gulch parking lot. While not quite as spectacular as the High Peaks Trail, there are still several interesting rock formations along the way.

Flora & Fauna

Condors and turkey vultures.

Contacts

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Check-Ins

Apr 23, 2020
Mike Nugent
Feb 14, 2020
Leah R
Nov 24, 2019
Mike Nugent
Nov 17, 2019
Admiral Wing Commander
late day hike
Nov 10, 2019
Milly S
Confirmation that I'm officially out of shape 5.1mi — 3h 30m
Aug 8, 2019
JANET O'MARA
Jul 6, 2019
Anselm Grundhofer
Jun 29, 2019
Madhav S
5.1mi

Trail Ratings

  4.8 from 34 votes

#204

Overall
  4.8 from 34 votes
5 Star
79%
4 Star
18%
3 Star
3%
2 Star
0%
1 Star
0%
Hike Rankings

#29

in California

#204

Overall
20 Views Last Month
3,224 Since Jan 14, 2016
Difficult

0%
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22%
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78%
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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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