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“Little known treasure” 5 of 5 stars
Review of Pinnacles National Park

Pinnacles National Park
5000 CA-Hwy 146, Main Entrance Is Off of Hwy-25, Paicines, CA 95043
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Ranked #1 of 2 things to do in Paicines
Certificate of Excellence 2014
Activities: Hiking, Birdwatching, Rock climbing
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Attraction details
Owner description: This natural site has spire-like rock formations reaching 1,200 feet high.
Ocala, Florida
Top Contributor
60 reviews 60 reviews
8 attraction reviews
Reviews in 38 cities Reviews in 38 cities
24 helpful votes 24 helpful votes
“Little known treasure”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed July 1, 2013 via mobile

Looking for a hiking spot on our way from San Jose to LA my husband found this place. I have to confess to being a little freaked out, the road down there seems deserted and I honestly thought I was being followed by a serial killer haha. After a long one lane road trip past a few deserted ranches you reach a brand new pristine visitors center. We watched a short film on the area there, a must do before you go hiking. It was hot when we left, but after hiking in about a half a mile it cooled a bit. We did the balconies trail and went through the cave. It was so cool. It looks like a giants playground. One of the rocks looks like a dogs head and there is another that looks like a tug boat. The caves are fun. I am very afraid tights spots but it was worth it. You definitely need a flashlight. The course wasn't very hard, young kids would love it, mine did. It's nature's playground. The whole round trip was about 2.5 miles.

Visited July 2013
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208 reviews from our community

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San Mateo, California
Senior Reviewer
9 reviews 9 reviews
8 attraction reviews
Reviews in 5 cities Reviews in 5 cities
19 helpful votes 19 helpful votes
“Great Trail, Fun Adventure For Kids”
4 of 5 stars Reviewed June 29, 2013

Pinnacles is recently upgraded to a National Park. Love the special views, wonderful trails and nature. Our group, 2 boys(8 & 14), my husband and I, went there in June 2013. 2.5 hr drive from San Mateo, CA. We entered from the West entrance because the Balcony Cave is open. Not too crowded on a Saturday. Plenty of spaces left in parking lot. Easy trail for my kids. We needed to bent down in some place, and some section was narrow. We spent 2.5 hr to finish the Balcony Cave/Cliff trail. We took a few water breaks. The traffic near the cave is quite busy. Totally dark inside. We brought headlight and flashlight. You needed to go up and down stairs or rocks. But it is all the fun about! It's quite hot that day like 90 degree. Only 1/3 of the trail has shade. Wish to have more shade area/trees at the picnic area at the parking lot. It's too hot for lunch that day. Will be back in Fall, the cooler season. Will try to enter from Easy Entrance next time and do the other cave. My kids love the dark/cave/boulders adventure.

Visited June 2013
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
santa rosa
Top Contributor
109 reviews 109 reviews
62 attraction reviews
Reviews in 37 cities Reviews in 37 cities
52 helpful votes 52 helpful votes
“better than i imagined...”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed June 12, 2013

yes, it is a bit "out of the way" but it is worth a visit...preferably not in the middle of the summer.
spent 2 full days there. Hiked an easier trail the first day..the old pinnacle trail, thru the caves (no doubt, you need a flashlight) over the balcony cliff trail back to the car. We came in on the east side and spent 3 nights in Hollister...did not find any other lodging closer. The second day we started off on the condor gulch trail over the high peaks trail to the reservoir. That was a spectacular hike. Not easy, but not TERRIBLY strenuous. It was quite a sight walking in the pinnacles, and parts of it seemed like a Disney set. Steep, narrow area but there is a hand railing..not a hike for those under 10 years I would not think. The 4 of us are in our 60's (and don't like heights) and we did OK. The Condor Gulch hike would be rough on a day in the 90's...we did it at 80 degrees and it was not too bad.

Visited June 2013
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Utrecht, The Netherlands
Top Contributor
65 reviews 65 reviews
4 attraction reviews
Reviews in 38 cities Reviews in 38 cities
43 helpful votes 43 helpful votes
“splendor and a rewarding bit of exercise, a one-day outing”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed June 9, 2013

Went here hoping for a refreshing hike and nice views. The trail we took (high peaks overlook) brought us to an outlook with a view of a couple of condors. Quite a climb to get there (900 feet) but quite doable and with several spots with amazing views. We got very good advise from the store; ie we were to expect significant heat on the way up (indeed we did, with no shade to protect us from a 110 degree fahrenheit sunblaze). Take lots of water as all manuals say, here you need it. The most stunning aspect is the shear size of fallen rocks and boulders, we felt like being in the land of the giants. The condors circling at the top were indeed impressive although I would not know them from other big predator birds. Topping it off, on the way down you walk underneath fallen boulders, magnificent!
We walked for 3 hours; getting there adds a few extra from any min place so it was a one-day activity

Visited June 2013
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Glendora, California
Senior Reviewer
7 reviews 7 reviews
3 attraction reviews
Reviews in 6 cities Reviews in 6 cities
10 helpful votes 10 helpful votes
“Wildlife, walks and wonderful views”
4 of 5 stars Reviewed June 3, 2013

We visited Pinnacles National Park the weekend of June 1-2, 2013. Driving into the East entrance the amount of wildlife is immediately apparent. A flock of wild Turkeys greeted us along with Quail, Deer, Vultures, Ravens and more.

The East entrance is where the Pinnacles campground is located along with a small store/Visitors center. Be sure to check the hours of the store/Visitors center as they are short on some days and unlike many of the larger Parks, they don't open at o'dark hundred.

We will return to Pinnacles but next time, earlier in the year as it was hotter than we expected and the resulting hatch of "insects" in the campground area was more than we had prepared for...however, the insects are food for the large Townsend's bat population and numerous birds in the Park and there are ways to prep for them.

The West entrance offers less hiking trails but more spectacular views and if you are camping at Pinnacles campground, DO NOT miss driving to the "other side" of the Park to see the spectacular rock formations.

We particularly enjoyed that the Park is left very much in it's natural state and what engineering improvements there are are minimal impact improvements.

Pinnacles is a gem and worth visiting: to make sure you enjoy your visit, do your research to make sure you enter through the proper entrance as the East and West entrances do not pass through the park, watch for snakes, know that your dog can't go on the trails with you so make arrangements for fido, bring insect repellant and if you are camping, a bug "sticky" strip you can put up to attract flying insects in your tent or RV. Bring adequate water for yourself and pets and lastly, check the status of campfires/barbecue fires.

Visited June 2013
Was this review helpful? Yes 5
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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