17 Photos - Apr 23, 2013
Photo: The hike started from the West Entrance, climbing up Juniper Canyon Trail. The park gets its name from the odd, needle shaped rocks like the one in the foreground that dot the landscape.Photo: A series of switchbacks along Juniper Canyon Trail takes you up ~1,000 ft in roughly 1 mile, and the landscape really opens up in front of you. This is the view looking west (the rock face from the previous photo is in the center of the frame at the bottom of the canyon).Photo: From Juniper Canyon Trail, we switched to the High Peaks trail heading towards Bear Gulch Reservoir (seen here). You lose most of the elevation gain made over the first 3 miles but the lake is a welcome sight in the otherwise dusty rock-strewn landscape.Photo: At ~3.2 miles in, this is also a good place to take a breather before the 3.3 mile slog up to North Chalone Peak along the Chalone Peak TrailPhoto: The reservoir is also a photographer's treat, especially when the wind dies down and the surrounding rocks reflect in the water.Photo: Photo: Photo: Chalone Peak Trail, looking southeast. You gain 1,700 ft over the 3.3 mile climb to North Chalone peak, with zero tree cover.Photo: Spring wildflowers along Chalone Peak Trail, looking southeastPhoto: Panorama from North Chalone Peak, the highest point in the park. South Chalone Peak  lies right in front, with the farmlands of Salinas Valley on the right and Pinnacles National park to the left.Photo: A closer view of South Chalone Peak, which we decided to skip given the oppressive heat. A 1.6 mile trek from North Chalone Peak will get you there if you're really in the mood.Photo: Supposedly, the view from North Chalone peak extends 218 miles on a clear day like this one.Photo: Backtracking along Chalone Peak Trail, we ended back at Bear Gulch Reservoir, and decided to return to the parking lot via Bear Gulch Caves and Condor Gulch Trail.Photo: From Condor Gulch Trail, we took the High Peaks Trail to Tunnel Trail, which ultimately connects us back to Juniper Canyon Trail.Photo: The entrance to the 'tunnel' on Tunnel Trail.Photo: A distant view of the famous 'Balconies' from Tunnel TrailPhoto: Nearing the end... Moonrise over the rocky hillside along Juniper Canyon Trail.