We are currently driving to Lassen Volcanic NP after several days in Yosemite, but our first stop was Pinnacles National Park earlier in the week. (Updated Map)
Day 2 – Pinnacles NP (8/5/13)
On Sunday night we arrived to our campsite in Pinnacles National Park after dark, so in the morning we woke up and got to see it for the first time. We could see some of the reddish pinnacles (rock formations) from our campsite, so we quickly had breakfast and got ready for a hike to beat the heat. On our way to the trailhead, we came across a huge covey of quail and a fawn that surprisingly weren’t too shy, so Nathan got some nice shots.
Then we started the hike towards Bear Gulch Cave and Reservoir.
Rock tunnel on the hike
The hike was a short 2 mile loop, just enough to get our legs warmed up. The cave is seasonally closed to protect the bats that live there, but it was open most of the way when we were there, which was great. It’s pretty impressive, and has some quite dark areas so headlamps/flashlights are required.
We had fun climbing through the caves and around the rocks. It’s definitely a highlight of hiking in the park.
After emerging from the cave, we continued on to the Reservoir. It made for a picturesque snack break, and it’s a great place to photograph some threatened Red-legged frogs (that now seem to be recovering after being re-introduced to the reservoir area).
The final portion of the loop goes along the Rim Trail, with wider views of the landscape and the Pinnacles themselves. Overall, it was a great warm up hike for our trip and we really enjoyed the solitude. We didn’t see a single person on the hike.
Afterwards, we packed up our tent and car to start the drive to Yosemite. On our way out, we stopped at the visitor center where a gang of turkeys was gathered, again not bothered by the people checking them out. Then some deer came to join the party. Eventually the camp host shooed them away from the visitor center and swimming pool area, so the deer and turkeys headed up the hill together.
Although we had a very short visit to Pinnacles, we were really glad we were able to add it to our itinerary. It’s definitely worth a visit, but since it’s a pretty small park, it seems like a day or two would be enough to get the experience. Next time we’d like to see some of the California Condors that live there!
Here’s a map of the short hike we did through Bear Gulch Cave.
View Hiking Tracks – Natekat Epic Trip in a larger map
- Days: 2
- Nights in a tent: 1
- Miles driven: 384
- Miles hiked: 2
- Wildlife: Quail, deer, frogs, turkeys
- Caves explored: 1