The High Peaks Trail, combined with Condor Gulch, was an absolute highlight of Pinnacles National Park for me. Depending on your fitness level and/or sensitivity to heat and sun exposure, this can also be a tough hike. Nevertheless, it is well worth the sweat and strain. After a steep haul for about a mile and a half up the Condor Gulch trail from the Bear Gulch parking lot, keep going as the views just become more and more stunning. As I approached the ridge up to the High Peaks Trail, I saw my very first California Condor and I nearly fell over. This is an incredible, massive bird, with striking long white patches along the undersides of their wings, which span 9 ft. Make no mistake, these rare birds are like small aircraft and much bigger than Black or Turkey Vultures, which you will also see soaring overhead. The higher you go, the more likely you are to see more condors, especially as you hike into the high peaks of the pinnacles that you have spent so much time admiring from below. Navigating the jagged pinnacles can be tricky--it is narrow and steep, and you sort of weave in and out and up and down them, sometimes with the help of railings and steps which have been cut into the rock.
From the high peaks you are rewarded with stellar views of both the east and the west sides of the park. It's completely breathtaking and, even though I spent a beautiful day in early May on this exciting loop, so was the 90+ degree heat. While it is highly recommended that hikers are extremely careful on these trails in the oppressive summer heat, I might have to say the same for even some of the spring months. Take care to bring plenty of water and cool down when you can, maybe checking out the wildflowers (like bush poppies, monkeyflowers, and mariposa lilies) along the trail.