Pinnacles National Park - Day 1

Condor Gulch Trail: A Challenging Climb with a Nostalgic Reward

We checked off another national park from our bucket list – Pinnacles National Park, number 35 and counting! Established as a National Monument in 1908, this California gem officially became a National Park in 2014, making it the state’s newest addition. We decided to enter from the east entrance, eager to discover what the park had in store.

The Bear Gulch Cave & Reservoir Trail differed from the leisurely stroll I had pictured. These adventurers got their first taste of spelunking as we crawled through a talus cave; a narrow canyon filled with precariously stacked boulders! Talk about a unique experience! Following the stone-carved stairs, we finally reached the picturesque Bear Gulch Reservoir. The stairs and the dam were created in 1933 during the Great Depression.

After a well-deserved lunch break with a beautiful reservoir view, we took the scenic route back via the Moses Spring Trail. This leg offered stunning vistas of steep cliffs and breathtaking panoramic views. This was a welcome change from the enclosed cave experience. We soaked in the scenery before rejoining the Bear Gulch Cave Trail, completing the loop.

Condor Gulch Trail: A Challenging Climb with a Nostalgic Reward

We continued our adventure by hiking the Condor Gulch Trail to the Condor Overlook, hoping to spot some majestic condors soaring above. This one-mile hike might not seem much! However,  it was a real battle with the relentless sun, scorching temperatures, and an elevation gain of 1,000 feet.

Condors were a no-show, but the views from the overlook of the park’s dramatic pinnacles were absolutely breathtaking. The scene, bathed in warm sunshine and vibrant fall foliage, instantly brought to mind a song I adored as a teenager: “L’été indien” by Joe Dassin! Talk about a blast from the past. Here we were, 48 years after that song’s release, experiencing firsthand that “rare kind of autumn day” Dassin sang about – the kind you only find in North America.


Friday, October 20, 2023


2.67 miles,
1.85 miles

Moving Time

1:14:42 hours,
0:50:19 hours


61 - 66 °F, sun, gentle breeze