Hello everyone !
Today I’m taking you to a much less crowded and more natural place in California : the Pinnacles National Park. We decided to go there for a hike with my friends as it is not far away from where I live (Monterey) ; it is located east of the Salinas Valley in Central California.
Native Americans have inhabited California for over 10,000 years. Anthropologists believe Pinnacles was intermittently occupied by groups of Native Americans as evidence in the form of arrowheads and bedrock mortars have been discovered within the park.
In 1891, a homesteader named Schuyler Hain from Michigan discovered the Pinnacles. He fell in love with them and became known as the “Father of Pinnacles”. He organized visit groups through the park and urged for the preservation of the area. His efforts proved fruitful as in 1908 President Theodore Roosevelt established it as a 2500 acre national monument.
Since 1908, Pinnacles National Monument increased in bits and pieces to its present size of about 26,000 acres. On January 10, 2013 President Barack Obama signed legislation passed by Congress that redesignated the monument as a National Park.
Our hike : The North Wilderness Trail Loop
After arriving at the park, my friends and I decided to go for the longest hike. The North Wilderness Trail Loop is a 9.3 miles round trip with a 1.020 elevation. I have to say, the start was a bit rough because we started hiking around noon and it was really, really hot. In addition, the beginning of the hike is where it gets uphill (after that, you’re pretty much good to go !).
The North Wilderness Trail Loop is an unmaintained trail which climbs along the ridgetops and then descends into the Chalone Creek bed, where it is marked by rock cairns. Despite the lack of big trees, the landscape was beautiful to observe. There were lots of impressive enormous rocks and boulders due to the fact that the Pinnacles are part of the Neenah Volcano, which erupted 23 million years ago !
We did not see many animals : no chipmunk, no eagle… But we did stumble upon a rattlesnake !!! This was crazy : we were just walking along our trail and then saw a black thing on the floor. When we realized it was a snake, we thought it was dead, but then it started moving and making its famous “sss” noise. I managed to take a picture before running off !
Within Pinnacles a lot of small animals such as bobcats, bats, and bees live – no big bears there ! In total, there are 149 species of birds, 49 mammals, 22 reptiles, 8 amphibians, 71 butterflies, 41 dragonflies and damselflies, more than 400 bees, and many thousands of other invertebrates in the park.
If you get lucky, you can see condors in the park. In addition, the park features unusual talus caves that house at least thirteen species of bat. At the end of our trail, we went to the caves, armed with our flashlights, but unfortunately did not see any (or fortunately, depending on your opinion on bats I guess).
Nevertheless, the caves were a really cool part of the hike : the shadows cooled us down, and it was nice to really climb the enormous rocks (but they were easy to climb, don’t worry, no need to be a professional hiker with a specific gear or anything).
As you can see, the hike was not too hard except maybe at the beginning if you go on a very hot day. But the rest was very doable, you just need some good shoes, a hat, sunscreen, and plenty of water as well as a picnic. The trail was really easy to follow, just think about checking the ground sometimes because the second part of the hike is filled with poison oaks, so I would advise you to wear long leggings even if it is really hot (I survived, with a tank top !).
What about you, what is your opinion on and experience with hiking ? Let me know in the comments.