We went for a very short camping trip to Pinnacles with some friends. Pinnacles was upgraded from being a national monument to being a national park in 2013, making it the newest national park in the US. It is located about 1.5h away from Santa Cruz.
We camped overnight on Friday and hiked all day Saturday. It went below freezing overnight, so hot tea and chicken broth were very popular in the morning. The campsite was in a valley so it was still in shadow when we woke up. We got out to our hiking trail by 9:30 am. I was super impressed because we were a group of 7 and only 30 min behind schedule (which was largely my fault since I had originally planned for the group to do a hiking trail that did not exist, so when we got to where we thought it was we realized we had to find a new trail and then drive over).
We decided to do a loop trail leaving from the Old Pinnacles trailhead. It was an 8.9 mile hike roundtrip and we passed through the Balconies Caves.
The first bit was steep uphill.
There were many small purple wild flowers along the way called Shooting Stars.
Once we got to the top of the ridge, this was what the view was like:
We walked a ways along the ridge until we saw our first pinnacles.
We stopped along the way for many snack breaks. We saw some more interesting wildflowers. The ones bellow are called Indian Warriors.
The trail led us to a split where you could continue on or climb up one of the pinnacles. We did the latter.
We continued along the trail, which wound through the pinnacles formations.
Finding Dmitriy in the below photo is like playing “Where’s Waldo”.
These reddish rocks were my favourite view. Many of them were slightly multicolour because of the lichens growing on their surface.
Near the end of the hike we reached the Balconies Caves. There was a gate to go in.
There was not much light in the entrance, and none inside the caves, so my photos are poor/nonexistant. This was while you are going to the entrance through a slim crack in the rocks. Giant, spherical boulders have fallen down and gotten wedged in the crack. You often had to duck or even crawl under them.
We climbed down into this hole to get into the cave. It was cool but short. I’d love to find a bigger cave to go exploring in.
Once in the caves, you go down a passage for a bit until you come to what is usually a small stream. Since there is a drought now, there was very little water, but apparently sometimes you have to wade through it to get to the other end of the cave.
It was about another 3 miles to the end of the trail. We headed home in the late afternoon. The highway passed through very beautiful green, rolling hills.