Pinnacles National Park

During spring break, we were able to check another national park off of our to-see list: Pinnacles. This is the newest park to achieve national park status. There are two entrances, and there is no road connecting the two. We used the west entrance, accessible from Soledad off the 101 highway. The road is one lane for the majority of the time, but luckily, it was not too busy.
We stopped by the visitor center and watched the short movie. This was the smallest “theater” we have seen in a national park.
We ate lunch near the trailhead and saw a snake at one of the other picnic benches. (No picture).
Next, we embarked on the Balconies Cliffs Cave Loop, which is 2.4 miles round trip. When I asked the park ranger whether it was suitable for kids, he assured me that “kids love it”.
Dry river bed–how sad.
This is where things started to get hairy. P1010934P1010935P1010937
Although we had flashlights and head lamps, as modeled by D, the cave was quite dark, narrow and steep. I do not even have pictures of the scariest parts because I had to put away my camera for safety. D had to carry n for some parts because the rocks were too large to scale. It was also difficult to see how much further we had to go, so I asked D if he thought we should turn back. Usually when I do this, D insists we forge on, but this time he agreed with me! So, we did not do the loop, but traced our way back to the beginning. I’m not sure why the ranger would recommend this trail for kids our age. I also would not recommend it for older people who are unsteady on their feet or larger people (as there are some places where you really have to squeeze to get through). P1010938P1010939P1010942P1010944
The rest of the trail was quite pretty, so I did not mind hiking it twice. This may upset some people, but I am not quite sure that Pinnacles “deserves” to be a national park. To me, national parks need to be spectacular, and this one did not quite meet the mark (although we did not see all of it, of course, so maybe I should reserve my judgment).

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