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Bear Gulch Trail

Easy/Intermediate

Trail

1.4 mile 2.2 kilometer point to point
90% Runnable
Easy/Intermediate

Elevation

Ascent: 418' 127 m
Descent: 0' 0 m
High: 1,402' 427 m
Low: 984' 300 m

Grade

Avg Grade: 6% (3°)
Max Grade: 17% (10°)

Dogs

No Dogs
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Trail shared by QuinTCM TCM

A gently ascending, partially shaded trail leading to the Bear Gulch area.

QuinTCM TCM

Features Birding · River/Creek · Wildflowers

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

Description

From the junction with the Bench Trail, take this trail southwest as it winds its way between a dry creek bed to the south and a paved road to the north. The trail gently ascends beneath a grove of trees before opening up again and crossing a bridge over the dry creek bed. Shortly after crossing the bridge, the trail passes over a paved driveway leading to a residence for park employees. Continue along the trail beneath another grove of trees towards the Bear Gulch Day Use Area, which is made up of administrative buildings, a small nature center, bathrooms, and a picnic area. Stop in and check out the nature center!

Continuing on, follow the trail as it crosses a parking lot towards the Condor Gulch Trail and a small bridge. Don't take the bridge but turn southwest and cross a road leading to a small parking lot and some restrooms. Continue on the trail southwest over another bridge and through a shaded picnic area. At the end of the picnic area, cross another road leading to another small parking lot and set of restrooms. Behind the restrooms is a rock formation called The Ignorable Cliffs.

Crossing the road, the trail ascends passed a rock formation called The Tourist Trap before terminating at a junction with the High Peaks Trail and the Moses Spring 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.

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Trail Ratings

  3.7 from 7 votes

#10500

Overall
  3.7 from 7 votes
5 Star
14%
4 Star
43%
3 Star
43%
2 Star
0%
1 Star
0%
Trail Rankings

#1,149

in California

#10,500

Overall
6 Views Last Month
306 Since Apr 10, 2015
Easy/Intermediate

17%
67%
0%
17%
0%
0%

Photos

The trail descends from the Bear Gulch area to the South Chalone Creek and Bench Trail.  Its one of the better shaded trails in the park.
Feb 24, 2016 near Soledad, CA
Volcanic rocks surrounding Bear Gulch Visitor Center.
Oct 14, 2017 near Soledad, CA
Longer grasses can be found around the creeks in the winter and spring when there is more water flowing through the area.
Feb 24, 2016 near Soledad, CA
Water runs down alongside the Bear Gulch Trail as it makes its way to the South Chalone Creek.  Its a nice hike in the winter or spring when water is flowing over the rocks and cascades.
Feb 24, 2016 near Soledad, CA

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