Distance: ~ 6.2 miles
Elevation Gain: 1500' Moderate
Est. Time: 5-6 hours
Entrance Fee: $30.00, good for 7 days (100% of the fee stays in Pinnacles). This is a good excuse to carpool or purchase a National Parks Pass
Restrooms are available at the park Visitor Center, at the trailhead (Bear Gulch Day Use Area) and at the lunch spot.
Dogs are prohibited on park trails.
NOTE: Pinnacles experiences large numbers of visitors on weekends in March and April resulting in full parking lots and possible delays in entering the park. This is the reason for the early start. There is no cell phone service in the park. So if you arrive late it may be difficult meeting up with the group.
Description: Pinnacles is the nearest national park to the Bay area and also the newest in California, having been upgraded from a national monument in 2013. The park is famous for volcanically formed rock spires as well as spectacular hiking and rock climbing. There is abundant wildlife and a variety of wildflowers in the spring. Talus caves have been formed from massive boulders wedged in ravines. We will explore one such cave on our hike. Much more information and photos can be found on the National park Service website.
The hike starts at the Bear Gulch Day Use Area, the terminus of the bus shuttle from the Visitors' Center. It follows the Condor Gulch Trail to the High Peaks Trail. Parts of this trail are very steep and narrow with handrails and steps cut into the rock. A bypass is available for the acrophobic. Our lunch spot will be at the junction of the High Peaks Trail and the Juniper Canyon Trail about 3 miles into the hike. After lunch we continue down the High Peaks Trail and cut across the Rim Trail to the Bear Gulch Cave Trail (there is a bypass trail for those reluctant to go caving or who forgot a flashlight). After exiting the cave it is about a mile back to the starting point where we pick up a return shuttle to the Visitors' Center. If the line for the return shuttles is long, it is an easy 2.3 mile walk back to the Visitors' Center.
A map of Pinnacles National park may be downloaded at http://www.nps.gov/pinn/planyourvisit/upload/PINNmap1-1.pdf A more detailed map of the region of our hike may be found at https://www.nps.gov/pinn/planyourvisit/upload/PINNmap3.pdf
Visit http://www.cyberhikes.com/HPNM01MP.HTM for images of the hike through one of the caves.
What to Bring: Have a good breakfast, bring snacks and a lunch. There is no food in or anywhere near Pinnacles other than a little store at the campground. There is quite a bit of sun exposure especially on the High Peaks Trail so sunblock and a hat are recommended, along with plenty of water (at least 2 quarts per person). Dressing in layers with a windbreaker is a good idea. A flashlight is required to visit the caves.
Directions: Take Hwy 101 south through the city of Gilroy to Hwy 25 south. On Hwy 25 pass through the town of Hollister and continue about 30 miles to Hwy 146. Turn right on Hwy 146. Turn left at the Pinnacles Visitor Center and Ranger station and park. According to park rangers, parking spots at the trailheads are full by about 9 AM on weekends. However there is a shuttle bus running every 20 minutes or so from 10 to 5 between the Visitors' Center and the Bear Gulch Day Use Area where our hike begins.
By arriving by 9:45 we can hope to be on one of the first shuttles. Please join the shuttle line as soon as you arrive. Our secondary meeting point is at the start of the Condor Gulch Trail. Google Earth coordinates of Pinnacles Visitor Center: 36.493545 N, -121.146646 W
Driving time: about 1 hr and 40 minutes from San Jose
Carpooling: Carpooling is highly recommended. We plan to set up a carpool site and will send the the link to all who RSVP. We do not assume responsibility for carpool arrangements (we merely do so as a courtesy to help hikers make their own plans).
Rain policy: If there's any ambiguity about the weather on the day of the hike, you can check the forecast the morning of the hike. The NWS forecast for Pinnacles may be found at http://forecast.weather.gov/MapClick.php?lat=36.4708&lon=-121.1473#.VvNqbXCN2iU
If it's raining significantly, the hike is off. If the weather is ambiguous, we will send out an email to the firstname.lastname@example.org list on the morning of the hike. You can easily join that email list by going to the http://groups.yahoo.com/group/mitcnchikers/ web page and clicking on the "Join This Group!" button. After you're on the list, you'll receive emails about each upcoming hike ~1 week in advance. The volume on that list is very low (~2 emails/month), so spam won't be a problem.
Disclaimers: Joining any hike is entirely voluntary and participants assume any and all risks associated with the activities. By registering or attending this event, participants agree to the conditions posted at: http://northerncalifornia.alumclub.mit.edu/s/1314/images/gid25/editor_documents/event_documents/liability_waiver.pdf
Contact: Paul Kuzmenko
mitcnchikers-owner =>at>= yahoogroups.com
phone: 925 four eight seven nine seven one one