Pinnacles National Park got an upgrade from national monument status in 2013 (thank you, President Obama). A pinnacle is a high, pointed piece of rock. These particular pinnacles are eroded leftovers from an ancient volcano. Although the pinnacles formed long ago, Pinnacles National Park is one of the newest national parks in the United States. It is also one of the least visited, and the west entrance is even less utilized since there is no camping on this side of the park. It is a good thing there are no trailers and RVs since much of the drive is a windy, single lane road.
Balconies Cliffs Trail is currently a three mile out and back. It is typically a loop but the Balconies Cave Trail, which creates the loop, is currently closed due to Covid restrictions. The views of cliff faces and giant boulders are incredible. Much of this trail is shaded, which is a nice bonus in summer. I think the highlight of the Balconies Cliffs Trail is all of the California condors souring overhead. It is difficult to say how many condors we spotted since they were periodically dipping out of view, but I think it would be safe to say between ten and twenty. Which is pretty impressive considering they are critically endangered; there are only about 300 in the living in the wild. Pinnacles National Park joined the California Condor Recovery Program as a release and management site in 2003. Their efforts have been noted.
Prewett Point Trail is a one mile loop, which starts from the West Visitor Contact Station. It is an easy, flat hike with views of the pinnacles and the Hain Wilderness (Hain was a homesteader whose efforts led to President Roosevelt creating Pinnacles National Monument). The trail was pretty brutal at noon with temperatures exceeding a hundred degrees and no respite from the sun. We are looking forward to another explore of this 40 square mile national park tomorrow morning.