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High Peaks

Intermediate/Difficult
  4.8 ( 33 ) Favorite

Trail

5.1 mile 8.2 kilometer out and back
75% Runnable
Intermediate/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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Trail shared by Steve Jackson

Run to rocky peaks and see a California Condor.

Steve Jackson

Features Birding · Views · Wildflowers · Wildlife

Overview

This is a nice run 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 run 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 run 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 running. 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.

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Trail Ratings

  4.8 from 33 votes

#202

Overall
  4.8 from 33 votes
5 Star
79%
4 Star
18%
3 Star
3%
2 Star
0%
1 Star
0%
Featured Run Rankings

#31

in California

#202

Overall
40 Views Last Month
3,098 Since Jan 14, 2016
Intermediate/Difficult

0%
0%
23%
65%
13%
0%

Photos

Beautiful views on High Peaks Trail!
Jan 27, 2016 near Soledad, CA
The heart of Pinnacles National Park
Oct 14, 2017 near Soledad, CA
California Condor hanging out on the high peaks trail.
Feb 24, 2016 near Soledad, CA
Condor 688 (Black 88).  If you visit the High Peaks, especially in the afternoon, you may get lucky to see one of these endangered animals.
Dec 1, 2018 near Soledad, CA
Pinnacles surrounding Condor Gulch Overlook.
Oct 14, 2017 near Soledad, CA
Great views on the Condor Gulch Trail.
Jan 27, 2016 near Soledad, CA

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