Place: Pinnacles National Park, Paicines, California
Coordinates: 36.481344, -121.181452
Length: 1.5 miles one way
The Pinnacles National Park has been a blazing hot spot for me in the past year and I had opportunities to explore trails a bit outside of the popular areas.
Bear Gulch Cave and Reservoir are very popular attractions to people visiting the Pinnacles NP. The downstream part of Bear Gulch Creek, however, is hardly a hike by its own right. Skipped by most Bear Gulch visitors, this trail segment which connects the cave and reservoir to Chalone Creek, is generally hiked as part of a larger loop hike. This is also how I got to hike that trail. It does, however, an interesting and very beautiful trail that can easily be incorporated into a Bear Gulch Cave hike if started at the campground or the Peaks View parking area.
When I hiked Bear Gulch it was the final segment of a larger loop trail that begun at the Old Pinnacles parking lot, continued up by the High Peaks and descended to the Bear Gulch Parking lot. To get back to my car I needed to go down (east) along Bear Gulch Creek and back up (north) along Chalone Creek. This post is only about that trail segment.
|My hike from Bear Gulch to Old Pinnacles|
Following two wet months, the creek was flowing nicely and green vegetation grew along its banks.
|Acorn Woodpecker's Granary|
The trail follows the creek very closely. Many of the plants at the creek banks looked flattened and there were piles of vegetation debris lodged at the turns. Evidence of e recent flood, no doubt.
|Deergrass (Muhlenbergia rigens) by the water|
The damp season is the time for fungi fruiting. While not a spectacle as the NorCal coastal mushroom bloom, Bear Gulch mushrooms were still a much appreciated beauty.
Ferns lined along the entire path. They, too, looked healthy and happy after two months or rain.
|Western Chain-fern (Woodwardia fimbriata)|
|Canyon Live Oak|
Eventually the sun was no longer shining into the gulch. I put on my sweater and raced past a beautiful cascade area that really should have been explored with more leisure, but would have to wait until the next time I hike that trail.
completely different look and feel.