A national park in the backyard…

What’s the best thing about being in the bay area?
I can access national parks just a few hours away….

So close am I to the Pinnacles National Park in San Benito county that Adi(the hubby) and I practically decided to head there for a small hike at like 1:15pm after a casual lunch date.

We started from Santa clara at 1:45pm. The route is quite simple. We got on to 101 S, drove for about 36 miles and then turned on to CA-25 all the way until CA-146W. The drive on CA-25 is simply gorgeous, especially during sunset when the sky portrays some beautiful colors; beginning from soft shades of pink clouds(I call it the cotton candy effect) on to deep hues of blood orange & yellow(I call it the fire effect).

So we reached Pinnacles at 3:30pm and headed to the visitor center to get a receipt for entrance into the park. Since we have a national park pass the entrance fee ($10) was waved off. As we drove into the park I began to dread the sudden overcast and became dubious about hiking (which is why my mr. smarty-pants hubby deliberately didn’t inform me about the weather). Slipping and falling on my back is my biggest FEAR! (I have worked very  hard to strengthen my lower back after a fall I had years back while rehearsing for a dance show). And to make things more scary we got to know about reports from fellow hikers about a hailstorm.

However, by the time I got to the trailhead all that rain/hailstorm that I was dreading had come and gone and I was left with this sight.

pinnacles natnl.  park_hailstorm

Aftermath of the hailstorm- Pinnacles National Park

The moses spring to rim trail loop is my favorite hike. It’s a moderate-level hike which goes through caves(bear gulch cave) which is the resting area of big-earred bats in winter that raise their young ones during late spring and summer, which is why the caves are generally closed from mid-May to mid-July. Walking through the caves can be spooky and unsafe without flashlight(s) at any time of the day. Very dubiously, I began the hike, fingers crossed for no rain/hailstorm.

I love this trail specifically for two locations- one is a reservoir, the other a view of the park from atop a rock that is a bit narrow to walk on but the view from the tip of this rock is rewarding.

Halfway through the hike I found these pretty leaf-like plants(I have got to look up the name).

Leaves so pretty (Name unknown)

(Name unknown)

The dark clouds had passed and I was my cheery self beyond this point. I couldn’t get a good picture of the caves but here is where the walk through caves began. There are certain places in the caves where I had to squat my way though. Once out of the caves a staircase leads to the reservoir.

pinn_pfod_6

Reservoir

Believe me, it’s always this serene! if not, better.

My next task was to spot tiny snakes squiggling through with their heads above the water(they are so FAST). This time however couldn’t spot any :(. I usually sit here for a while before proceeding on to my next favorite spot. But I’m not done with this place yet.

Apart form the reservoir I also like the look of these rocks against the blue sky. It looks perfect. So magnificent!

Rocks by the reservoir

Rocks by the reservoir

Which reminds me of this other trail in the park wherein I hiked to the pinnacles on the mountain. That hike is NOT easy, especially during summer. Apart from the elevation it’s the exposure and heat that drained me out. I had to pour water on a spare t-shirt of mine and hang it around my neck all along this trail. However, once I got up to the pinnacles I knew it was worth the effort. The view is stupendous!

After snapping half a dozen pics of this place and a dozen of me(:P), we proceeded towards my next favorite spot through the the rim trail. This is where one can expect maximum elevation of the overall trail(it’s not that bad).

Pretty flowers

Pretty flowers

I was quite elated to come across these pretty flowers on the trail for this was the only place I found any. A pretty sight nevertheless!

And Finally I arrived at my last stop on this trail- The tip of the mountain. Ain’t that a gorgeous view?

The last stop

The last stop

That is the reason I keep coming back to this place. From here on it was basically the return to trail head. Overall it is a 2.2 mile loop which took us less than an hour and half.

We left the park and drove for another 30 minutes or so on CA-146W and then headed back home, just in time for sunset.

Here is the fire-effect sky that I had mentioned earlier.

Fire-effect Sky Post sunset

Fire-effect Sky Post sunset

I have also had the experience of camping here overnight and I must say that the campground and its facilities are one of the well maintained ones that I have been to. The rangers are quite up-to-date with whereabouts of the park and are very polite to talk to.

Pinnacles national park is so close and easy to access that it always make me feel like I have a national park in the backyard of my house. The drive to get there and back is my incentive.

The next time I go there I plan to explore some new trails. Stay tuned 🙂

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