Tuesday, March 5, 2013

The Pinnacles

The Pinnacles from Trail
Had a great time exploring The Pinnacles rock formations south of Hollister, CA. The pinnacles are the eroded leftovers of the western half of an extinct, 23 million year old volcano that has moved 195 miles from its original location on the San Andreas fault. The current rocky outcroppings have been eroded to approximately one-third of the volcano's original height, but still offer a challenging location for hikers and rock climbers.

Worn remains of 23 million year old Volcano
The Pinnacles were recently promoted from being a National Monument to a National Park and is now the closest National Park to the SF Bay Area. A ranger told us that because of the new National Park status there were more people than usual when we visited. Definitely worth a visit.

Trail to Caves
The Pinnacles National Park has two main areas of Talus type caves; the Bear Gulch Caves are near park headquarters in the Eastern District, and the Balconies Caves are in the Western District. There isn't a road that connects both sides of the park. It takes an hour and a half to drive from one side to the other so we'll have to make a another trip to hike the western side. Looking forward to it.

Exterior Talus Rockfall
The term 'talus' refers to the chunks and blocks of rock that usually accumulate at the base of cliffs. The rapid journey of a rock down a cliff usually has the effect of shattering the larger boulders, so openings in the talus piles are rarely large enough for humans to explore as caves but the circumstances at Pinnacles are different. The caves there are a wonderful feature .

Short Bear Gulch Entrance cave
We started at the Bear Gulch Visitor Center on the East side which is open daily 9 to 5. Hiked to the Bear Gulch Caves which was partially closed for Bat habitat. Didn’t see any bats though. These caves are developed with railings and steps and there is a small stream inside the cave. It’s great to see a few little waterfalls in the caves and wedge through the fallen rocks.  Be sure to bring a headlamp/flashlight - it's dark at places in the caves.  

Inside the Bear Gulch Cave
All in all, Pinnacles National Monument is a very beautiful place to visit- something you don't expect to see in the Northern California's coastal area.  
Rock Climber
For rock climbers The Pinnacles offer a variety of different quality rock and types of climbs on both sides of the park. The majority of routes (especially on the East side) are sport climbs. The most recent guidebook for the Pinnacles warns against traditional climbing because the rock is somewhat soft, and placements can come out. While the East side tends to have better rock quality, there are much higher rock formations in the west side.

We’ll return soon to explore the Western District of the park. 
Highly recommended!
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  1. Hi,

    Amazing place to know!


  2. What a great blog it is, thumb up.
    What if you make a post about Indonesia, I think that country is beautiful and exotic too.

  3. lovely blog - loo forward to exploring some more :)

  4. LOVE to travel and explore! Those pictures are amazing. Found this from a tweet. I'm glad I did!