Pinnacles National Monument
Pinnacles National Monument is an area of rugged peaks, chapparal covered hills and evergreen and oak woodlands. The park is home to a reintroduced population of California Condors which tend to be easily viewed toward evening as they go to roost on the high peaks. On a recent trip to, I was pleased to see 3 Condors circling the peaks, two of which eventually perched in plain sight, easily viewed from the High Peaks Overlook.
Directions: The east entrance is located about 30 miles south of Hollister on Highway 25. Turn west on Highway 146 to reach the trails. The west entrance is located around 12 miles east of Soledad taking Highway 146 from Highway 101 in Soledad. Please note that Highway 146 does not connect through the park.
Condor Gulch Trail: Of over 30 miles of trails, Condor Gulch is the only one I've personally hiked. The trail is relatively easy becoming a bit steeper near the High Peaks Overlook. Condor Gulch winds through oak and chaparral that provides habitat for both Western Scrub and Stellar's Jays and other species such as Spotted Towhee and Acorn Woodpecker. The overlook area is good for viewing California Condors, Turkey Vultures and Common Ravens.
Directions: Condor Gulch Trail leaves from the parking lot at Bear Gulch Visitor Center which is accessable from the eastern entrance to the park.
Above are two pictures of California Condors from a distance observed from the High Peaks Overlook.
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