The Pinnacles

posted Mar 8, 2010, 6:03 PM by Paul Wagner
Great hiking this weekend outside of King City. 
I (P) had visited the Pinnacles National Monument numerous times as a child, and looked forward to going back and visiting some of my old haunts.  What he found was that things had changed, but the Pinnacles are still a great hiking destination, and this is absolutely the best time to visit!
Friday focused on the East Side, with a hike up through Condor Canyon and onto the Peaks trail.  This is a steep climb, about 1500 feet in two miles, but the views are certainly worth it.  And it did feel good to get out and HIKE!   The trail joins the Peaks Trail and then wraps around, up over and through the rocky volcanic pinnacles that gave the park its name.
The weather was cloudy without rain, and that made for a perfect termperature for the hiking, even if the colors were more washed out than they would have been in bright sunlight.  The advantage was that the heat was nothing like this park in summer--it can be an oven!   This hike was lovely, and I was completely unprepared for the green mosses and lush plant growth in the canyons, particularly on the north slopes.
I didn't have a flashlight (although the ranger actually offered to loan me one if I could get back by 5 p.m.!) so I didn't go through the caves this time.  It wasn't that I didn't like that trail--just that I didn't want to get wet!

The next day I returned with a friend to the West Side, which I don't remember having visited before.  Rather than climbing back up to the Peaks Trail, we wandered down towards the Balconies, which I had seen from the Peaks the day before.  Another lovely hike with some great water features (try to find THOSE in the summer!) and another set of caves--this one with water up to your knees.  We passed on that, but had a great hike, eventually taking one of the rock climber use trails up out of the canyon onto the top of the ridge.



They have changed this park a bit since I was young--the campground is now in a very different and less attractive area--but they have also added in about a dozen California Condors.  They were not visible during the hike, but that didn't stop me from stopping and staring at the peaks hopefully.