Rock Outcrop - Pinnacles National Monument
One of the typical volcanic outcrops at Pinnacles National Monument.
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Rock Outcrop - Pinnacles National Monument - 
   One of the typical volcanic outcrops at Pinnacles National Monument.

Rock Outcrop - Pinnacles National Monument
One of the typical volcanic outcrops at Pinnacles National Monument.

The rocks in this area were part of a bigger formation that occurred about 25 million years ago. San Andreas fault happened to be right underneath and in the middle of this formation. The Pacific plate moved the western-half northward and the North American plate moved the eastern-half southward. The eastern half is now in a place called Neenach Formation near Lancaster in Southern California.

As these rocks started moving northward along with the fault, they split and started moving along the

Pinnacles National Monument is located about 100 miles south of the bay area cities. There are two entrances to the park and there is no road linking the entrances. The west entrance "Chapparal Ranger Station" has a little visitor center and is reached from the city of Soledad after a nice 12-mile drive. The east entrance has the main visitor center (Bear Gulch Visitor Center") and is reached from the city of Hollister.

The view of the spires is great (can't have it any better) from the parking lot of the west entrance.

I did a 8-mile loop trip in the park in May-2005. It rained a lot in the bay area this spring and rainfall was almost twice the average in many areas. It had just rained in the park when I visited. There was plenty of water (relatively speaking) and greenery in the park and I was quite surprised by lush green flora on some trails. The pictures in this gallery are from the loop-hike. I started at Juniper canyon trail (lot of shade in the lower part), went up to the high peaks, went around them, continued on the high peaks trail, Old Pinnacles trail and the Balconies caves trail.

This is a dayhiker's place and the park is quite small. The must-hike trails on the west side are "high peaks loop" and the "balconies caves loop". If you have the time do the longer loop combining both the high peaks and the balconies-caves (which is what I did). At the Bear Gulch area, there are "Moses Springs caves". If you have the time, do the high peaks loop.

Each person visiting the caves has to have a flash-light. In winter and early spring, the caves are wet and water showers down from the ceiling. The rest of the park is quite hot in summer and you need food and at least two liters of water if you are hiking up to the high peaks and make a loop hike.



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