Team Action Wipes stopped by Pinnacles National Park, the newest US National Monument, to do a little hiking. From the moment you enter the park, Pinnacles bombards your senses with the spectacular remains of an ancient volcano with names like Machete Ridge, Resurrection Wall and Frog Canyon. This time of year is a great time to visit as it is still relatively cool and the wildflowers are blooming everywhere.
Pinnacles has over 30 miles of hiking trails ranging from “easy” to "strenuous.” Because our time was limited, we chose a loop via the Balconies Cliff and Cave trails (Moderate but with some tricky cave passages). With our back packs loaded with jackets, flashlights (for the Balconies Cave Trail) and some of our famous body wipes to pass out to hikers on the trail, we set off on our hike.The trails meander through massive monoliths and sheer-walled canyons that are home to the elusive and endangered California condor. Pinnacles is a nesting area and one of the very few release sites of the condor, an amazing but endangered species that can have a wingspan of over 9 feet! We didn't see one, but hope to next time. The contrast between the spectacular granite rock spires and the luscious green foliage was incredible. Speaking of green, the poison oak was big and plentiful, so watch your step (remember that Action Wipes helps reduce the effects of poison oak exposure).
Aside from fantastic hiking, there is plenty of rock climbing opportunities as well. Climbing areas are clearly marked, so please make sure to follow the signs. Also, be prepared when hiking through Balconies Cave - If you're claustrophobic, we would not recommend this passage. The caves are dark, very dark with several steep areas, enclosed quarters and did we say dark? But if you're adventurous, have a flash light and are mentally prepared - go for it, it's amazing!!
If you happen to be on the California Central Coast, plan on a visit. Pinnacles is 140 miles south of the Bay area and just a few miles off the 101 near Soledad, California. But if you go, please, leave no trace and obey all park regulations. It was sad to find several pieces of trash littered along the trails.