Pinnacles National Park Women’s Hiking & Camping

Trip Length 4 Days
Group Size 4-12
Activity level
Starting from
$1,399 for REI Members
$1,549 for non-members
Departures Apr 2022-Oct 2022

Explore the dramatic crags and caves of Pinnacles National Park on this 4-day women’s hiking getaway.

Two hours from the Bay Area, just east of the Salinas Valley, you’ll find California’s newest national park. As the smallest and least visited of the nine national parks in the Golden State, Pinnacles provides an intimacy and solitude unparalleled by neighboring parks. The product of an ancient volcanic eruption, tectonic force, and millions of years of erosion, the park contains a beautiful and unique landscape begging to be explored on foot.

During our adventure we scramble through the dark passageways of rare talus caves and hike the iconic “Steep and Narrow” route to some of the park’s highest peaks. We rise before the sun to catch first light as it bursts between jagged rock spires hundreds of feet high. Scan the rocky cliffs for signs of the endangered California condor, – you just might see one! While our days are full of active discovery, our evenings are spent relaxing in our cozy camp while laughing with new friends as the sky fills with stars and the Milky Way emerges.

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Trip Highlights

  • Discover one of America’s newest national parks on this 4-day hiking adventure
  • Hike among Pinnacles’ crags and caves, along some of the park’s most scenic trails
  • Search for iconic park wildlife including the magnificent California condor
  • Camp in comfort each night in our roomy 4-person tents
  • REI Women’s Adventure – designed for women, guided by women

Activities

This trip is rated Moderate [3]. Participants should be comfortable with daily hikes ranging between 5–10 miles with elevation gains/losses of up to 2,100 ft.

Hiking trails are composed of dirt and sand with some steep sections and exposed overlooks.

  • Hiking

What's Included

Three nights camping accommodations; guide leadership; roundtrip van transportation from/to San Jose, California; all meals beginning with dinner on Day 1 through lunch on Day 4; beverages including coffee, hot tea and hot chocolate; all group camping equipment; park fees and local taxes.

Accommodations

Camping, 3 nights

Your Adventure Itinerary

Day 1

Travel to Pinnacles National Park and enjoy the first views of the park’s namesake spires

Our trip begins today in San Jose, CA. We meet our guide and fellow travelers in the lobby of our host hotel. After a quick introduction, we load our van and head south to our wilderness home for the next 4 days—Pinnacles National Park. In 2 short hours, we arrive at our campground inside the park. After setting up camp, we lace up our boots for a warm-up hike on the Bench Trail. Winding our way along a seasonal creek bed, we soak in our first incredible views of what’s to come during the next few days. When we arrive back at camp, there is time to relax and settle in while our guides prepare a delicious dinner.

Hiking: 2.5 miles, Elevation gain/loss: 200'; Van transfer: 2 hours

Day 2

Explore talus caves & hike to the summit of Pinnacles’ highest peak

Rise to the sound of birds singing as the smell of coffee coaxes you out of your tent. Our goal today is to stand on the highest point in the park, North Chalone Peak (3,304’). We begin our steady uphill climb toward the summit through a shady woodland that leads us to the opening of Bear Gulch Cave. Ascending through the talus cave, we then make our way past Bear Gulch Reservoir, where the bulk of our climb awaits. Once we reach the summit, we’re rewarded with panoramic views of the surrounding mountains and the Salinas Valley far below. Here we take a break to enjoy lunch before beginning our descent back to the trailhead. Tonight, we share another fulfilling guide-prepared dinner together in camp to refuel after our full day of hiking.

Hiking: 9.5 miles, Elevation gain/loss: 2,100'

Day 3

Hike to the High Peaks Area and get close-up views of the park’s signature rock formations

Today’s exhilarating loop hike starts at the Old Pinnacles Trailhead with an easy stroll through a wooded forest. We encounter our second talus cave a few miles into our hike and our guides deftly lead us through the subterranean passageways. Emerging from the cave, we continue along the mellow Balconies Trail for another mile before reaching the Juniper Canyon Trail, where we begin our ascent to the High Peaks area. Every switchback offers another incredible view of the valley below and brings us closer to the park’s signature spires looming above us. Once the switchbacks are behind us, the panoramas reach untold heights and we have a gradual, pleasant descent to our trailhead via the High Peaks Trail.

Hiking: 8.4 miles, Elevation gain/loss: 1,600'

Day 4

Enjoy a final hike in Pinnacles before returning to San Jose

We’re up and on the trail before the sun this morning—but no worries, we take our breakfast and coffee to-go! We begin our final hike at the Bear Gulch Day Use Area, and our trail climbs steadily, offering many incredible views to keep our motivation high. We continue climbing toward a ridgeline as we make our way to the “Steep and Narrow” section. Here our guides lead us through an exciting cliffside traverse, assisted by handrails and carved steps. We continue along the ridgeline for a bit (keeping an eye out for condors, often spotted here) until the trail descends back to the Bear Gulch Use Area, completing our loop. After our hike, we share a final lunch together before breaking camp and returning to San Jose, where we plan to arrive by 4pm this afternoon.

Hiking: 5.3 miles, Elevation gain/loss: 1,300'; Van transfer: 2 hours

Gear List

The key to staying comfortable while on an active trip is layering. To get maximum comfort with minimum weight, you need versatile layers that mix and match to create the right amount of insulation, ventilation and weather protection. This gear list has been created to help you choose the proper equipment. Try to bring only what is necessary; this will help you and the field staff.

What to pack

Contact Us

Feel free to give us a call at 1 (800) 622-2236 should you have any questions regarding the gear list. The staff at our stores and Direct Sales ( 1 (800) 426-4840 ) will also be happy to help you with gear questions. Or check out REI Expert Advice , which has great information to help you prepare for your trip.