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. Dinner included.
Hiking: 2.6 miles, Elevation gain/loss: 200'; Transfer: 2 hours
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. All meals included.
Hiking: 7.7 miles, Elevation gain/loss: 2,377'
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: 7.9 miles, Elevation gain/loss: 2,135'
This morning we'll enjoy our last bite of breakfast and final sip of coffee together before breaking camp and heading to our trailhead. We begin our final hike at the Bear Gulch Day Use Area where 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 trailhead, completing our loop. After our hike, we eat a delicious celebratory lunch together before returning to San Jose, where we plan to arrive by 4pm this afternoon.
Hiking: 4.8 miles, Elevation gain/loss: 1,834', Transfer: 2 hours