Juniper Canyon Trail Professional Reviews and Guides
"The hike up the canyon on the west side to a saddle rewards you with panoramic views, and the hike downhill to the east side is like being invited to look behind a strange and seductive, otherworldly volcanic curtain. The lollipop route takes you to the edge of a reservoir via an amazing subterranean climb threading under colossal boulder tunnels between rock faces and up sculpted rock staircases. This scenic hike through the talus caves challenges your limberness."
--David Mullally and Linda Mullally, Hiking Pinnacles National Park (Falcon Guides).
"The hike begins in a moderately shaded gray pine and juniper canyon before climbing up exposed switchbacks against scenic towering rock walls up to a panoramic saddle straddling the east and west sides of Pinnacles National Park. You will descend along the volcanic flank of the East Pinnacles along a scenic gulch, enjoying views of North Chalone Peak and passing climber access spur trails to unusual solitary rock outcrops before arriving at the Bear Gulch Nature Center."
"This is a west to east traverse lollipop with good climbing, beginning in the shaded Juniper Canyon and switchbacking up the exposed western flank for a panoramic close-up of the peaks. The descent on the backside crosses rolling, oak-studded meadows before dropping down to the banks of seasonal Chalone Creek and up the scenic, shaded Bear Gulch back over the High Peaks saddle beneath Scout Peak for the last descent to the trailhead."
"If you have already hiked among the rock formations on other trails in the park, you may think this trail starts out a little ho-hum as you hike through the chaparral flatlands staring up at the base of more towering rock palisades. The best is yet to come. The Civil Conservation Corps’ engineering feat of metal catwalks, steep Inca pyramid–like footholds picked out of the rock, and metal pipe handrails on the High Peaks’ narrow ledges has an almost Italian Dolomites Via Ferrata flair that will charge your adrenaline batteries. You might even be rewarded with spotting condors on their midday soar."
"If you have already hiked among the rock formations on other trails in the park, you may think this trail starts out a little ho-hum as you hike through the chaparral flatlands staring up at the base of more towering rock palisades. The best is yet to come. The Civil Conservation Corps’ engineering feat of metal catwalks, steep Incan pyramid–like footholds picked out of the rock, and metal pipe handrails on the High Peaks’ narrow ledges has an almost Italian Dolomites Via Ferrata flair that will charge your adrenaline batteries. You might even be rewarded with spotting condors on their midday soar.The trail begins in open chaparral terrain by the information panel. Walk 150 feet up the trail in the fenced trail corridor to the Condor Crags interpretive panel and turn right. Enjoy the wispy shade of the juniper and gray pines spread among the buckeye trees for the first mile. From here on, the trail climbs up the exposed rocky flanks, treating you to views of various element-sculpted volcanic rock monuments. The trail is at its most challenging, unique, and precipitously exciting from the High Peaks via Tunnel Trail junction at 1.2 miles for almost 2 more miles. On this section you will use rock-chiseled footholds and metal pipe handrails installed by the Civilian Conservation Corps during the 1930s. The views are breathtaking; the trail itself is a heart thumper and not for the timid or anyone fearful of heights."
--Linda B. Mullally and David S. Mullally, Best Easy Day Hikes Pinnacles National Park (Falcon Guides).
"If you like the idea of experiencing as much of the park’s biodiversity as is possible in a full day’s hike and want to claim that you walked to the Pinnacles Visitor Center at the East Entrance from the west-side trailhead, then this challenging circuit is for you. If you stop in the West Pinnacles Visitor Contact Station at the West Entrance when you drive into the park and if the Bear Gulch Nature Center is open (seasonal hours) when you hike by on your way to the visitor center at the East Entrance, you just might be among the few who can say they have hit the park’s three visitor centers in one day. This hike shows off the diversity of the park’s habitats, from shaded gray pine and juniper canyons and towering volcanic palisades to oak meadows and wide seasonal creekbeds surrounded by steep California chaparral–covered hills. Although the Bear Gulch area is bustling with hikers on weekends, you can look forward to solitude on the last 7 miles back to the west side along the North Wilderness Trail."
"This hike highlights the contrasts in Pinnacles National Park. It climbs out of a shaded canyon to a panoramic saddle before descending along the volcanic east flank for North Chalone Peak views and then opening to a freshwater reservoir. The trail loops down into the surreal world of boulder-tunneled cave passages and a spring feeding a fern grotto before the climb back up over the saddle straddling the East and West Pinnacles."
"The hike begins in a moderately shaded gray pine and juniper canyon before climbing up exposed switchbacks against scenic towering rock walls to a panoramic saddle straddling the east and west sides of Pinnacles National Park."
"West Pinnacles has the North Wilderness and East Pinnacles has the South Wilderness. Fit hikers who want to sample the solitude of the South Wilderness on the eastern side will be treated to a strenuous but scenic uphill traverse over the imposing volcanic ridge known as the Pinnacles. This long full-day hike is punctuated by the lush Bear Gulch area on the descent to the banks of the seasonal Chalone Creek. Finally you enter the meadows and woodlands of the South Wilderness."
"This is a challenging clockwise circuit hike from the Chaparral Picnic Area on the west side over the High Peaks down to Bear Gulch on the east side and looping back over the top at the base of Scout Peak to close the loop and lollipop back down to the trailhead. This hike boasts great views on the way up and down with perspectives unique to both the east and west sides. There is an Anasazi cliff-dwelling feel to the up-close and personal experience of threading along the volcanic towers and rock monoliths. The “steep and narrow” stretch of trail in the High Peaks includes single footsteps etched in the rock. If you like your Stairmaster sessions at the gym, you will love the High Peaks. This is not the trail to test new knees and hips. For some, walking along rock catwalk ledges with steel pipe handrails as an assist will be fun, and for others it may be more thrilling than they want."
"If you are a hardy hiker and your goal is to reach the park’s southernmost point and soak up views from the highest point, this hike is for you. The trail climbs out of a shaded canyon to a panoramic saddle before descending along the volcanic east flank past the reservoir, then climbs up exposed chaparral slopes to the fire tower on North Chalone Peak, before continuing down and up again to lower South Chalone Peak."
"The contrasts of eco-zones on this hike demonstrate why relatively small Pinnacles National Park has such habitat diversity. You begin up the scenic, heart-pumping Juniper Canyon to the volcanic peaks and down the east side across oak-studded meadows, following the Bench Trail above the seasonal Chalone Creek, then finish through the talus Balconies Cave agility course."
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