On one Saturday, a few weeks ago, N. and I went hiking in Pinnacles NM. As it takes 2.5-3 hours to get there from San Francisco, we initially planned to go camping there. However, all the campgrounds were already reserved for that particular weekend. So we decided that it is still better to go there for a day trip rather then postpone it till never.
The Pinnacles park can be entered either from the east or from the west (and, interestingly, these roads do not intersect, so you need to exit on the same side you entered). We went for the eastern entrance as more hiking trails start from there. First, we went for a short (<1h) hike to the Bear Gulch Cave and afterward we went for a longer (3-4h) hike to the top of High Peaks.
Exploring Bear Gulch Cave was a lot of fun. It would have been even more enjoyable, had there been less other people wanting to explore it too...
In general, the park was very crowded (especially with school kids), so I was wondering if we were simply unlucky to get there on a busy weekend, or is it always so crowded? For me an important part of experiencing the nature is to be able to immerse in it without the noise created by other people, so you can imagine that I was not that happy there.
It got slightly better when we started hiking to the top of High Peaks. Luckily, most of the casual visitors to parks are not willing to go for longer hikes, especially if that means going up...
The views from High Peaks were great, but still not as spectacular as the ones from Mount Diablo. Taken that into account, plus the fact that on Mt Diablo we hardly met anybody (granted, we were there on a weekday), I would rather go back hiking on Mt Diablo then in Pinnacles. It will take some time before I will be willing to give Pinnacles NM another chance.
Bear Gulch Cave:
The light, at the end of darkness:
N. resting next to Bear Gulch Reservoir:
Views on the way back to the visitors center:
High Peaks Trail Loop:
Almost vertical way up: