Trail Talk: Latourell Fall

Location: Latourell Falls (Corbett, Oregon: The Columbia River Gorge)

Difficulty: Easy-Moderate

Distance: 2.4 Mile Loop (The map on site and several websites listed it at 2.4. When I hiked this with a friend we both recorded on separate tracking systems, Suunto and Garmin, and recorded it at 3 miles)

Elevation: 520 ft

Cost: FREE

Parking: There is small paved lot right at the trail head. There is extra parking across the street as well as extra parking across the bridge (just passed the paved lot), both are off the side of the road.

Directions:

Traveling east on I-84, take Exit #28/Bridal Veil. Sharp right onto Historic Columbia River Highway and travel for 3 miles. The parking lot will be on the left.

Traveling west on I-84, take Exit #35/Ainsworth. Drive 11 miles west on the Historic Columbia River Highway. The parking lot will be on the right side. EXTRA: if you take this exit you will get to drive past the Vista House viewpoint.

Preparation:

  • Water.
  • Shoes/Clothes. This trail can be muddy if it’s just rained so bring shoes with good traction that you are ready to get dirty.
  • Sunscreen. Its a good combo of tree covering and open air, its the NW so its often cloudy and overcast but as always sunscreen is always a great idea!
  • Bathroom. There is a small building for restrooms but they are currently closed due to Covid so I wasn’t able to check how decent they were.
  • Dogs. Allowed on leash.
  • Extras: there is a picnic area to rent at Guy Talbot State Park (which has more parking options and an alternate trial head)
  • THIS PARK IS EXPERIENCING MORE THAN NORMAL TRAFFIC WITH THE PANDEMIC, BE READY TO WEAR A MASK MOST OF THE TIME.
Lower Falls – Lower View Point

Experience:

I went and enjoyed these beautiful falls with my best friend, Blake. It was the first hike I did as an official resident of the PNW again, and the perfect start to what I hope is a beautiful outdoor experience here. When we pulled up I snapped a picture of the map that was easily visible at the trailhead and we set off heading to the right, down to the base of the lower falls. It looked like we chose the less busy direction as most people head to the left up to the top of the lower falls and continuing from there to the upper falls. I noticed very few people completing the full loop, most choosing the quickest way to the falls and retracing their steps. This left us a nice empty trail on the right side of the loop despite the busy trailhead.

Columbia River Gorge (view point)

Once you leave the lower falls viewpoint you will cross under the bridge and come across the picnic area (for rent, see preparation section above) before climbing back up the road. Once you cross the road you will continue your uphill ascent. After about 20-30 minutes and a couple of switch backs you reach a beautiful viewpoint of the gorge. It was a great place to stop and catch our breath . The weather cleared up to blue sky just for us and opened up to a beautiful view, before raining again as soon as we left to continue our journey.

Soon you will come parallel to the river and even be able to see the trail on the other side. Follow along the river to the upper falls. There’s enough of a path you can get up along side the falls (but not underneath it) if you want to rest and explore the site from a different angle. We did this hike in early February, and it had been raining so not only was it muddy (be careful!), the water was also a lot higher compared to the summer months (according to my hiking partner Blake who had done this hike before!). Once you get your fill cross a small bridge and then continue back on the other side of the river. Most of this will be a decent.

Close to the end of the trail you will reach the overlook at the top of the lower falls, there is a bench here if you wanted a longer pause before finishing. Then itss a short steep jaunt back to the beginning of the trail. At the beginning of the trail head, on this side, is an additional deck built out overlook for another angle on the falls.

Just come for Latourell Falls or make a day of it and visit the others nearby too! On the same road you will find the trailhead for Bridal Veil Falls, Coopley Falls, Wahkeena Falls, before reaching the infamous Multnomah Falls. All within 22 minutes of each other. Besides for Multnomah which I haven’t been to in over a decade these are all new to me, I will be covering all of these in the upcoming months. If there is any you would like for me to cover first please shoot me a message!

Waterfalls in Depth:

The falls were named after Joseph Latourell, who was prominent settler from the area. The Talbot Family then owed the Falls and are around it and in 1929 gave it to the state of Oregon. Hence the name of the State Park.

The Upper Fall is double tiered, and 134 feet of falling water. The Lower Falls is actually the largest of the two at 225 feet.

Happy Roaming!

Big Foot Trap

Location: Big Foot Trap (Collings Mtn. Trail), Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest

Difficulty: Easy

Distance: < 3/4s of a mile. If you can get a spot at the trailhead it is only about half a mile. Otherwise park at the Hart-tish Park parking lot and it will be ¾ of a mile. (see parking).

Elevation: 300 feet.

Cost: $5 for day use at Hart-tish Park parking lot. I got away with parking at the trail head for free but I would recommend bringing the cash.

Parking: There are roughly two spots on the side of the road for this trailhead. Otherwise parking is available across the road at Hart-tish Park (see cost for fees).

Directions: I-5 exit 30. Hwy 62 turns into Hwy 238 and follow 13.5 miles. At the town of turn left onto Applegate Rd. At 15.5 miles you can turn left into Hart-tish Park or the trailhead will be a few more feet up on the right hand side.

Preparation:

  • Sunscreen. It is pretty covered with tree’s, but sunscreen is always a good idea.
  • Water. No water at trailhead. May be some available at the park but I didn’t use it. Always better to come over prepared than under.  
  • Bathroom. There is a rest stop with a pit toilet roughly half a mile before the trailhead or one available if you pay to park at Hart-tish day use area.  

Experience:

The trail is pretty much off by itself in the forest. There is a good trail head sign visible from the road (see picture above) that has a foot print telling you that you are in the right place. You start by cresting a tiny flat mound between the road and the trail, then it quickly shifts downhill hiding you immediately from the view of the road. After only a hundred feet or so the trail splits between hiker and horse access. You will cross through a wooden barricade and start a semi steep descent. Less than five minutes into the trail you cross an incredibly unique footbridge that crosses a creek. When I went (early summer) there was no water, but I would assume in the wetter seasons this footbridge would be helpful to keep you dry.  Shortly after at about a quarter mile there is a wooden bridge.

On my first pass to park at the trailhead there were forestry services parked and I assume doing trail maintenance. The trail was extremely clear the whole time. I am also assuming/hoping the several arrows hand drawn into the dirt were communication between a trail maintenance crew. Otherwise it was extremely eerie to be down this trail by yourself not knowing when the last person hiked through, following crude arrows in the dirt…

I did follow them, however, and was rewarded with my prize. Towards the last bit of trail, it forked into what felt like two very defined trails. I almost went down the wrong one when I noticed the arrow in the ground pointing to the very left trail option. I followed it and was rewarded with a creepy smiley spray painted on a cut tree that passed over the trail. In retrospect it is not creepy but when you are alone, surrounded by forest, walking towards a big foot trap; Everything seems creepy. Later I saw that the right fork of the trail is a short jaunt to a demolished/decayed minor’s cabin. I will have to explore next time!

Up the hill on the left fork is the trap!  In a nice open space with a giant steel gate is the big foot trap. Thankfully, bigfoot was not there when I got to the clearing. It has been spray painted throughout the years and was remarkably still very sturdy. Although it would be no match for Big foot!

Big Foot History:

The Big Foot trap was first created in 1974 by the North American Wildlife Research Team. Which is no longer an organization. They tried for 6 years to trap Big Foot, baiting the trap with carcasses but all they ever caught was beers. The structure is 10 by 10 feet and made with 2×12 planks, combined with heavy metal straps, and fastened to the ground by telephone poles. In 1980 the door the was bolted open for good. It is now a tourist attraction and maintained by the United States Forest Service.

Full Trail Specs:

The Big Foot Trap is part of the Collings Mtn Trail

The trail continues past the trap and increases elevation rapidly up to the ridgeline before taking you along the western edge of Collings Mountain. It will drop you into Watkins campground. If want to do the whole thing find the additional info below!

Difficulty: Moderate/Hard

Distance: 7 miles one way.

Elevation: 1000 feet.

Extra Trail:

There is an easy flat half mile (one way) trail between the Hart-tish day use parking lot and a rest stop up the road. It runs along the side of the lake and provides great views for little effort. If you get to the rest stop there is also a short walkway that takes you out into the lake and gives a nice view of the dam.

Until next time, Happy Roaming!

Trail Talk: Hedge Creek Falls

Location: Hedge Creek Falls (Dunsmuir, CA)

Difficulty: Easy

Distance: Less than a mile round trip, out and back trail. About a quarter mile to the falls.

Elevation: Roughly 200 feet. (My Suunto watch recorded 150 but other sites listed 200).

Cost: FREE

Parking: There is a long, undefined lot directly across from the park.

Directions: This trail can be reached from either direction on I-5. Take the exit for Siskiyou Ave.

From the north: After the exit pass under the freeway and turn right onto Dunsmuir Ave.

From the south: After taking the exit take two rights.

It will be a quick right onto the small road and the parking is directly on the right. When I went I missed the turn, but was able to adjust quickly using the parking lot of a business (Castle Rock Water) directly past the correct street for a quick U-Turn. Dunsmuir Ave is also named Mott Rd.

Preparation:

  • Sunscreen. It is pretty covered with tree’s, but sunscreen is always a good idea.
  • Water. There is a water fountain at the top.
  • Shoes/Clothes. If you are going when its warmer, I would recommend a sandal/shorts combo so you can enjoy dipping into the pool below the falls. I did the whole trail in flip flops without a problem.
  • Bathroom. There was one porta potty at the top of the parking. I didn’t use it and am not sure what its condition is. I would not recommend counting on this stop to be your bathroom breath.

Experience:

Once parked I head across the street to the little park. There is a small grassy area with a few picnic tables, a gazebo with benches, and a fun water fountain. As I was starting the trail a family was settling in for a picnic lunch. The trail head is directly past the gazebo. The trail for the most part is clear, there is a small stream that appears to be routed under the trail and a few rockslides to step over. There was also a decent amount of poison oak off the trail but again the trail itself was clear. At the first switchback you are able to see the small but mighty falls and after a few more minutes you will already be to its base.

Hedge Creek Falls: For a short clip of me walking behind the falls scroll to the bottom!

The base of the falls is really special. There are a lot of larger rocks surrounding it for a nice area to spread out and enjoy. The water form the falls also pools into a great little shallow swimming hole before continuing along the creek. Be aware the whole area is pretty small and would get crowded quickly. If you are looking for a great place of water to enjoy for an extended period of time this might not be the most enjoyable. My favorite part is that there is a small cave carved out behind the falls and the trail takes you around and behind Hedge Creek Falls. Its such a unique view.

If you continue past the falls there is a bench which will allow you to admire the scene from afar. Continue down the trail that parallels Hatch Creek to a nice sized observation deck. From the deck you get a good view of Mount Shasta and the Sacramento river. She just peeked through the trees and below the clouds for me on this day.

Mount Shasta from Hedge Creek Falls Trail Overlooking Sacramento River

At this point the trail sharply turns back into an additional switch back that will take you down to the banks of the Sacramento river. Along this path is also great views of some mini falls and waterslides from Hedge Creek. At the Sacramento river I had read there was a swimming hole and a good shallow area. The water was a bit high when I went and I wasn’t able to clearly see where this spot would be but I would assume later in the season it would be a great place.

View of the Sacramento River from the end of the trail.

All in all I had a great time. With its short length and easy access from the highway it’s a great spot to stop if you are just passing through. Better than a random rest stop to stretch your legs and refresh before continuing through the mountains. I used it as just that on a long road trip starting in Monterey, CA and ending for the night in Medford, OR.

Happy Roaming!

Walking behind Hedge Creek Falls

Zion National Park

Park Talk: Zion National Park

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I had the pleasure of having a best friend trip, with my ride or die Blake, to this beautiful park last May. Maybe eight months before we went we decide to point to a national park on the map go there. The only thing we planned was that it had a trail we could backpack…and that’s about it. We didn’t know anything else. Zion wasn’t on our bucket list per se, but it quickly became one of our favorite places in the whole world. Our trip was really broken up into 2.5 pieces as far as the park was concerned. Kolab Canyon, the main drag of Zion (where we did two smaller hikes), and Springdale. I am going to include all parts here in a single blog so if you don’t care about a section they’ll be clearly labeled, and you are more than welcome to scroll through. Scroll all the way down if you want a fun and real video of our experiences!

First stop

Kolab Canyon – Overnight Backpacking Trip 

Location: Kolab Canyon (La Verkin Creek Trail)

Difficulty: Moderate

Distance: Lee Pass to Kolob Arch 7 miles (one way)

Elevation change: 950 feet

Cost for backpacking permit: $5 nonrefundable for reservation. $15 for 1-2 people per site/night $20 for 3-7 people per site/night.

* For costs to enter the park please see the general Zion National Park information.

Parking: Parking is limited at the top. I would recommend getting there early if you are just going for the day. We got in late afternoon which also worked out as we were camping and only going a couple miles, we were able to snag a space from a day hiker.

Directions: Make sure if you are looking to go this side of Zion that you put in the right address to your GPS (or if you are without a GPS) you just need to make sure you are heading north on interstate 15 (exit 40) and follow the signs. This is a separate entrance from the main entrance.

Preparation: For a day hike may sure you have water and sunscreen. For a backpacking trip you will need all the essentials. There are two water sources on this trail so you can hike with less water and bring a filter. Stop in to the Kolob Canyons Visitor Center at the bottom and they can advise of current water availability. When we went the creeks were FLOWING. We really didn’t need to bring as much water as we did.img_3668

The Hike: After a late afternoon start into the Canyon we set up camp at campsite two. Which is roughly 2.5 into the park form the Lee Pass trail head. Our goal for the next morning was to make it the additional 4.5 miles to the Arch and then the 7 miles back out to the car. However, as our first real backpacking trip (and my first time camping EVER) we severely underestimated the toll on our bodies of traveling the day before, immediately hiking into the wilderness, camping, and continuing on the next morning as if nothing had changed. We both felt like crap the next morning. We went maybe another half mile to a mile into the trail and made the decision to turn around. We would have loved to see the arch but our main goal was try out our backpacking gear and decide if we loved it, the arch was just a bonus. SPOILER: WE LOVED IT. We decided it wasn’t the smartest decision to continue forward not feeling well and then still need to hike 7 miles (up the 950 feet) to get back to the car, so we turned around. We still hit 10,000 steps before we got the car and we judged that a win.  Upon consideration afterwards we could have left our packs at the campsite to try hiking to the arch with less weight but as newbies to the backpacking lifestyle I think both of us felt weird leaving our homes and all our belongings behind.

Highlights of the hike. 1) The breathtaking views as you descend into the Canyon. As a gal who had never experienced this part of the country before I could not keep myself from calling it gorgeous, oh, about 100 times per minute. 2) The feeling of wilderness. As a sidestep out of the main portion of the park and really made for people who are planning on doing a serious hike there was barely anyone there. The feeling of being by yourself in this beauty is overwhelming. 3) The hike itself crossed a few different terrains. There are dessert sections, several creek crossings, a plateau of trees. It has a little bit of everything!

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Second stop…

Location: Zion National Park

Difficulty: All Levels

Distance: There are several different hikes throughout the park. For a full list I’d recommend visiting their website. Blake and I were able to go on a couple and as those will be the ones I talk about those are the only ones I’m going to list here.

Cost to enter the park: $35 for a private vehicle, $20 per person, Annual pass for Zion $70, Interagency Annual Pass (all National Parks) $80. The Private vehicle and per person tickets are good for 7 consecutive days.

Parking: There is limited parking at the park but the whole town of Sprinimg_3740gfield is set up to help the flow of people to the park. There is a free shuttle service throughout the town that drops you directly to the park entrance. Just head to your nearest shuttle stop! Once you are inside the park there is another free shuttle system that will take you to 9 different stops, just leave enough time to catch the shuttle back down from the park.

Directions: The two closest international airports are Las Vegas, Nevada (170 miles) and Salt Lake City, UT (300 miles). We flew into Vegas. Keep in mind there is an hour time change between here and Zion, with Zion being an hour later.

Preparation: Everything you might need for a day long excursion!

  • Snacks (careful the squirrels here are fearless!)
  • Sunscreen,
  • Camera
  • Water bottle: there are plenty of water fill up stations throughout the park but make sure you start with some water and have a good refillable water bottle.
  • Hiking shoes: No matter what you decide to do at the park there will be a lot of walking.

 

The Hikes:

Lower Emerald Pool Trail

Shuttle stop: 5

Distance: 1.2 miles round trip (out and back)

Elevation:img_3723 69 feet

Estimated Hiking time: 1 hour

This is a paved trail that leads to a beautiful waterfall. The path leads you behind the falls for a spectacular behind the scenes view. There are a few places where the water from the falls can get on the trail so be prepared for a few slippery spots.

 

 

Riverside Walk

Shuttle stop: 9 img_3706

Distance: 2.2 miles round trip (out and back)

Elevation: 57 feet

Estimated hiking time: 1.5 hours

This is a paved path that follows the Virgin River. It is a beautiful winding path that shows you a great view from the bottom of a canyon. You need to travel this trail to get to the mouth of the narrows and during times when the Narrows are open you can walk to the mouth of this famous trail for a quick view even if you aren’t going to attempt it. Unfortunately, when we went the river was overflowing with snow melt and the Narrows was closed.

The Town:

Springdale was such a cute and easy town to travel around. Very much catering to the tourist flow from Zion park the free shuttle service runs throughout the town not just to the park. There were a bunch of delicious eateries and a great little grocery in the center. We found a great hotel that was not too much for our budget that provided great views from the deck and hot tub!

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Overall:

Blake and I both agreed this entire park and everything around it was heaven. Even a year later we talk about how relaxed we were while we were in Zion. As a park it was extremely well organized that even when it was busy you never felt img_3782overwhelmed with people. The shuttle system really made the difference because it took the stress out of trying to get good parking at all the “good” spots. We really were at ease exploring whatever we wanted. Although we both would have enjoyed some of the more challenging hikes Zion had to offer, we both agreed we were there to adventure and explore and have a great best friend’s trip. We were not there to murder our bodies on hikes we were not quite physically ready for, or even we were, we did not want to wear ourselves out and not be able to enjoy everything else. 10/10 we would highly recommend this park and adventure to everyone, there is a little something for all levels and ages and is truly a joy to explore and pleasure to experience.

Video!

 

 

 

 

Trail Talk: Hidden Falls Regional Park – South Legacy way to Hidden Falls Access Trail

Location: Hidden Falls Regional Park

Difficulty: Easy-Moderate

Distance: 2.5-3 miles. I didn’t record on my Fitbit, but this is our best guess from the trail descriptions and online creeping for help. 

Time for us to Complete: 1.5 hours

Cost: $8 for parking. If you are going on the weekend or a holiday you must reserve your space online before you go. Thisis nice because you have a guaranteed spot when you get there. 

Parking: Single Parking lot. 

Directions: There is only one entrance so just follow the signs. It’s located at 7587 Mears Place, Auburn, CA and located between the communities of Auburn and Lincoln. 

Preparation:

 Sunscreen
 Water – There is no water fill-up in the park, you must bring in water you wish to consume. 

Heat Index:  This Park is located near Sacramento Valley . We were lucky enough to be in the area in January so it was sixty degrees and overcast. However, in the summer this area will get 90+. 

The Journey

To get to hidden falls you will connect the South Legacy Waytrail to the Hidden Falls Trail. The South Legacy Way trail is classified as easy. You’ll take this until you cross a bridge and then take the first left. Here the Hidden Falls Trail starts, and this portion is classified as moderate. Both paths seemed to have the same amount of elevation gain/decline, the only big difference we noticed is that the “easy” classified trails were wide with gravel and the “moderate” classified trails were narrow with dirt. This is a very design your own path trail system, as there are several other trials you can start or take and still end up at the destination of the waterfalls. I got to take my mom with me on this hike and we had a blast. I wish we could have stayed and explored more but were in a time crunch to get back to town for fundraiser event for the PCT association! 

The Falls

I love waterfalls. If its water and it falls I am the happiest person in the world so any recollections here may be biased. The Hidden Falls trail follows along the river and eventually twists you back to an observation deck for the falls. They are beautiful. The falls are fed by the western Sierra Nevada range and when we went the river was flowing! It was a great spot to stop and enjoy. If you are more adventurous you can climb down to the river as well and there are places to swim when it gets warm.

The Baby Falls

If you can’t get enough of falling water climb up back to the trail and finish it out until it connects to the North Legacy Waytrail. From there cross the large bridge and you will see stairs to another observation deck that overlooks Canyon View falls. These ones are little compared to the main event at Hidden Falls but worth the extra trek as the view from the bridge is delightful. 

The Park

The park is great, well organized, and clean. They have portable bathrooms strategically located throughout the park which is always nice. They have a good variety of trails from easy to difficult and good varied lengths that you can combine for any size length you wish to achieve. Their site claims 30 miles of multiple use trails and they have great placards throughout the park providing informative information about the surrounding area. It also looks like this is also a great place for horse back riding and mountain biking as we saw several of both while we were out there and I heard a few mountain bikers raving about the trail quality One of my favorite parts is that they limit visitors to the park to only the number of vehicles that can fit into the parking lot, and those who purchase a parking lot space have that space reserved all day.  I can’t wait to go back.

 

Until next time, Happy Roaming!

Trail Talk: Pinnacles National Park – Bear Gulch Caves to the High Peaks

 

Location: Pinnacles National Park

Difficulty: Strenuous

Distance: 6.5 mile loop

Recorded (fitbit) distance: 8.84

Elevation: 1800 feet

Time for us to complete: 6.5 hours

Cost: 7 day pass for non-commercial vehicles: $25

Motorcycle: $20

Individual: $12

Annual pass: $50 (best deal if you live in the area and think you’ll be able to make it back 2+ times)

Parking: Bear Gulch Day Use Area

Directions: Enter the park on the East side. Once inside the park continue straight and follow signs for the Bear Gulch Day Use area. There are two parking areas. Either one is fine as the trail starts off of one and ends at the other.

Preparation:

  • Sunscreen
  • Flashlight (required in the caves)
  • Water: The website for the park recommends 1 liter of water per hour on the trail. I took with me 4 liters of water which ended up being perfect for me.

Heat index: HOT. This park is notorious for getting extremely warm. I would recommend only visiting in the early early hours or winter/early spring if you are susceptible to heat like I am.

The Journey

Here is where you will be introduced to my best friend, Blake. Luckily for us, she discovered this great loop connecting three trails that we were able to conquer on her recent visit. If you wish to recreate this journey you will connect the bear gulch caves to the reservoir to the rim trail to the high peaks trail. Leaving the high peaks trail at the top and circling back down to the parking lot. Full video available for viewing at the bottom.

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The Caves

Follow the signs for the Bear Gulch caves and head out. This first part is only about 0.7 miles. Not long into the hike you’ll see a stopping point that warns you to have a flashlight before continuing. While we were starting we saw about four deer (not including the ones we saw from the car driving in). The caves themselves are pretty amazing, there are a ton of stairs carved into the stone and when we went through we could see standing water on either side of the trail. The website warns that there is a possibility of getting wet when traveling through these depending on the weather before and when you go. We saw a few places where little waterfalls could come down from above but it was dry for us as we trekked through. At the top there are two directions to go; only one was open when we went and thankfully this was also the one we needed. The one that was closed was the “upper caves” and the one we took was the “Moses spring exit.” It is at this point that the cave gets the narrowest and both Blake and I had to crawl on our hands and knees for a small portion.

DISCLAIMER: This caves can also be closed at any time. Check their website to see if they are open. There is a way to continue this full length trail without the caves but it’s definitely more fun if they are open.

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The Tricky Part

So at this point, we got lost. There is a sign pointing to the reservoir and we continued that way. Then the trail split. We took the right fork but it appeared to dead end so we turned back around and dead ended at the left fork as well. We backtracked to the cave exit and reread our maps. Then we went back up and took the original right fork that had “dead ended” but in reality was actually leading us back into some more caves. We were thrown off because we didn’t realize there was a second set of caves to traverse through before hitting the reservoir. So for you reader, there are two sets of caves! Also the left fork goes only a few hundred feet and ends at what we believed to be Moses Spring but there was no water at this point in the season.

The Reservoir and Rim Trail

The view of the reservoir after you get up the last set of stairs out of the caves is PHENOMINAL. We stopped here for awhile and never wanted to leave. Finally though we dragged ourselves away and keep going. There’s an easy sign pointing to the rim trail. This trail is pretty level and starts to show you some of those spectacular views. It’s a little over 2 miles if you just did this loop up to here and then returned to the Bear Gulch Day use area.

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The High Peaks

Here is where the elevation gain kicks in as well as the heat. We recommend you get started on this part as early as possible. We were trying to start early, but with the long pause at the reservoir and time lost getting turned around in the early stages, the sun was already high when we started this stage. This did not take away from the amazing atmosphere and views this trail provides. Take as many breaks as needed and find shade whenever possible to relax and catch your breath. I took about fifteen breaks on my way up and had only one minor meltdown, thankfully only caught partially on video. For some this is going to be easier than for others. I have a high aversion to heat so I struggled a lot, but I still made it and so can you!

Near the top there is a restroom (which is just a really nice port-a-potty, there is NO WATER up here) and a bench that shows you the most spectacular views. We paused for a length in the shade of the restroom’s building and then walked over to enjoy the view. We had the luck of seeing two California Condors soaring above us and it took our breath away. From here you continue up to the fun steps and narrow trail that probably enticed you to make this trek up to the peaks.

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The Fun Stuff

There are a few small staircases and then finally you hit the extra long one. Continue on to a ledge that is narrow and requires either some great balance or extreme trust in the railing. We were discussing how great it was to be coming from this direction because going down these stairways seemed scary and we were happy to be going up…..and then we discovered the staircase we had to go down. I was able to do it without too much trouble, but with my giant clown feet and nerves it took me a lot of time and a few deep breaths. While we are attempting this part of the trail WE WERE PASSED by a group of hikers who were all aged 70+. They put us to shame but just shows that depending on your ability level this hike is still really accessible t o anyone.

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Breaking Point and Heading Down

After the stairs we thought that we were done with the elevation gain. We were not. We kept going up and that broke our spirits a little bit. When we finally hit the split in the trail, that led us back to Bear Gulch, I was very close to having my second breakdown of the day. The sign is clear and says “Bear Gulch Area” and it’s only 1.7 more miles to the car from here, and to our relief all downhill. If you miss the split and keep going you head up the Bench trail which is two more miles and who knows after that, I didn’t care to find out. On the trail down there is a Condor Viewing area, but it paled in comparison to the views we already experienced up top and we were exhausted so we just kept going down. At the bottom it drops you right to the first parking lot and thankfully where we had our car parked.

Conclusion

I loved this hike. Yes, I know, it seemed like I really struggled with it, but that also is what made it so much more of an accomplishment for me. I love to push myself and see what I can really handle, it’s rewarding for me to make it to the bottom of something like this and realize that I did it. On top of that this hike had everything: Caves, the Reservoir, views, wildlife, and unique trail structures. If you are ever near Pinnacles or are coming to cross this park off your list of National Parks, this is definitely my recommended trail.

Until the next trail, happy roaming!

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For your further enjoyment, here is it all caught on camera (sorta):