South Bay

Spring Time Hiking at Basin Falls ~ Uvas Canyon County Park

Uvas Canyon County Park is a very small but beautiful park in the South Bay.  Located south of San Jose in Morgan Hill, this park contains about 6 miles of hiking, four waterfalls and creeks for everyone to enjoy.

Photo Courtesy of +Paul McWilliams.
On this occasion, I had a arranged a #HIRL (Hangout In Real Life) with a Google+ friend +Paul McWilliams and his family, and invited friends of mine.  Three - 2 year olds, one - 4 year old and five parents!! I was the only solo parent hiking with two kids, since my husband was riding the Tierra Bella Century that day! What a better way to spend the day hiking to waterfalls and meeting up with new and old friends.  It may have been the first +Google+ Toddler #HIRL history!

As hiking parents of little ones we knew that our mileage was not going to be long, so we aimed for the Waterfall Loop and if still felt energetic we were going to head to Triple Falls. Granted the latter never happened!

Waterfall Loop along Swanson Creek
Most of the hike was an uphill towards the waterfalls but it was not a difficult uphill since my two year old daughter hiked most of the way up. Still for toddler-carrying parents any uphill is a sweaty trek! We hiked counter-clockwise on Waterfall Loop, one side follows along the creek closely and the other side is a plain fire road trail. The creek-side trail, had actual creek crossings and bridges to walk across.  Two great features to keep kids hiking - water and bridges!

Creek Crossing!! ~ Photo Courtesy of +Paul McWilliams 

Bridges Make a Hike Fun ~ Photo Courtesy of +Paul McWilliams 
During a little carrier break, my daughter and I walked over to look at the flowers and she screamed, "Snake!!" and jumped backwards on the trail.  I only saw branches until a heard something rustle by my feet and saw something slither!! Of course I screamed and jumped back to where my daughter was standing but as I took a closer look it was a lizard carrying another lizard by the neck, I thought maybe they were mating but the lizard was definitely biting the other lizards neck.

After our lizard encounter, we continued on the spur and in a few minutes we were at Basin Falls which brought excitement to everyone, especially the little ones. There were lots of smiles from all the kids and parents when we saw the falls.  We tried to "relax" during our break at Basin Falls, but as always with kids, they are always trying to "not" fall into the water.

Chasqui Mom and niños!! Photo Courtesy of +Paul McWilliams 

Splashing at Basin Falls!! 
Basin Falls Spur - Photo Courtesy of +Paul McWilliams 
There was lots of splashing with sticks, rock throwing, investigating the water basin at Basin Falls and earthworms that came out out from under the leaves.  Lunch was eaten and after my daughter decided to not "accidentally" fall into the water, we packed up and headed back to Waterfall Loop (Fire road trail side).

Heading back! Photo Courtesy of +Paul McWilliams 

We took another spur to Black Rock Falls, which wasn't as impressive as Basin Falls but the rocks were black!

Most of the kids were done hiking by then so we hurried back to the parking lot.  Thankfully the rest of the trail was downhill so everyone was able to hike fast to the cars.

Trip Report Details

Who: Three families - Five Adults, Four Toddlers
Family Friendly: Moderate
Mileage: 2.8 miles roundtrip

Elevation Change: 586 ft
Trails: Counter Clockwise Waterfall Loop, Basin Fall & Black Rock Falls Spurs

Time: Approx. 1 hour 30 minutes (moving time)
Method: Toddlers Partial Hiking/Carriers

There aren't too many waterfalls in the San Francisco Bay Area, but cheers to family hiking and waterfalls that we do have!!

Waterfalls are great for family hikes! What is your favorite waterfall hike?

Join in on the conversation by leaving a comment here! You can also join in on the conversations on Chasqui Mom's FacebookInstagram and Twitter that is updated daily with outdoor activities and other wonderful posts and links from #OutdoorFamilies!

Related Posts and Links:

  1. Santa Clara County Parks - Uvas Canyon
  2. Chasqui Mom: South Bay Hiking

High Peaks at Pinnacles National Park

This is a continuation post of our Youth Group camping and hiking trip from April 2013 at Pinnacles National Park with eleven teenagers, four adults and our two toddlers.

Day 3, Saturday, April 6, 2013:

Bright and early, my husband was already up with the boy breakfast crew.  Apparently the girls pranked the boys by stealing their shoes overnight so the boys decided to retaliated while the girls slept in.  They also made breakfast at the same time.  The girls shoes were missing when they arose from their beauty sleep and let's just say teenage girls are not as forgiving as teenage boys.

What is it with boys/men cooking while camping?
After everyone had been fed, we packed up our lunches we started our enormous task of packing everything up. Some of our youth had never been camping or don't have any experience in properly packing and cleaning up a campsite.  It seemed like an eternity but we eventually got all the camping equipment back in the three vehicles.  There wasn't an obvious competition but the Boy Scouts group (our camp neighbors) were so efficient and fast, they made us look really slow. I explained to our group these Boys Scouts had been doing for years so they wouldn't be discouraged.  We also shadowed them during a good portion of our hike but they were doing their "30 miles in a day" hike and had done few miles in the morning before we even left camp.

Our First View of the High Peaks
Saturday was definitely more crowded that the previous day at Pinnacles! The park had shuttles running between the Visitor Center to the Bear Gulch Day Use Area. Our drivers dropped off our group and took the vehicles back to the Visitor Center and took the shuttle back to the Day Use Area.  I remained with the remainder of the group and had lunch while we waited for the drivers to return.

We finally started hiking and I was in front of the group with our youth student-leader Dixie.  My husband graciously took our son and daughter and hiked in the back of our hiking group. The condors were out and we could see them taking off from their nests. They look like little black specks in the picture above but those were condors.  I absolutely loved seeing so many condors because on our previous trip to Pinnacles we did not see a single condor.

There are a few switch backs on Condor Gulch but not anything difficult.  I was really amazed at the teenagers energy and enthusiasm, especially since most of these teenagers never go hiking.  It was one of our student's first time hiking ever and she was at the front of the line being very enthusiastic, motivating everyone to keep hiking.  At one point she said, "Come on guys! If we run that last two miles we will be done in 15 minutes!".  I thought to myself, maybe we got a future trail runner on our hands....

Overlook view of Condor Gulch Trail
Overlook view towards High Peaks
We took a longer break at the overlook and had a little hiking/backpacking survey.  The views were amazing as you can see from the pictures above.  If you look closely on the left side of the High Peaks the white marks (poop) on the rocks, was where the condors nests were located.  We saw many condors take flight from there homes and soar right above our heads down in the the valley, it was truly amazing!

We continued up Condor Gulch Trail which was a total of 1.7 miles until we reached High Peaks Trail.  During the remainder of the hike my daughter hiked with or at least near me being carried by one of the teenagers.  Of course having my daughter with me slowed me down, so my husband went to the front of the group with our son.  I spent the remainder of the hike at the back of the group but it gave me a chance to get to know that group of teenagers better.  Our normal youth group size at our church events are between 15-20 students so it's hard to get to know everyone.  Hiking and camping as a group gives us, the youth leaders, a chance to build a better relationship with our students.

Esperanza Viva Youth Group and Leaders
Some of the youth were very tired at the halfway point and I'm not going to lie, I was too.  There is a big difference when I am camping and hiking with my own family versus taking a group of other people's teenagers in addition to my family.  There is more planning, stress, constant teaching and motivation and I feel like I'm complaining but I'm not! It is so great to see our students grow, view the world in different ways and seeing them be open to the idea that the world does not revolve around them!  During a difficult part of the hike, one of our students asked if we brought them there to punish them! A little later he asked if we had brought him there to show him how insignificant he was! He asked the latter question after seeing the Balconies and the giant rock formations at the top of High Peaks.

Balconies View from High Peaks Trail

Dixie kicking butt on the trail!
Vanessa getting ready to climb up to the Peaks!
This is my California....
We had to teach a lot of our teenagers correct and safe hiking etiquette like not throwing trash on the ground, letting faster hikers pass by and in particular (my little brother) to not hike on the edge of a cliff trail.  Sadly my camera died soon after the picture above so I hardly  have any pictures from the actual High Peaks.

Photo Courtesy of Noe Garay
High Peaks was an adventure! Many of our teenagers said the felt like they were Indian Jones after we climbed up on the peaks and crawled on the very edge of a giant volcanic rock.  I am very glad that I was not with my husband when we went through the "treacherous" portion of the trail because my son told my husband that he was going to jump into the canyon so daddy could go rescue him with a Pogo stick like "Diego" and then tried to run towards the ledge.  I think I would have gone completely gray if I would have seen that.....

The one amazing thing I will remember for the rest of my life happened right after we finished getting through the difficult part of the peaks.  I was standing there with Dixie, Alexis and Manuel and a condor flew right by our heads, literally 10 feet from us.  None of us had our cameras but I'm pretty sure it's better in our memories then any picture that we would have taken.  Now I that have seen California Condors up close and personal, I have to see the Peruvian Condors as well.

We took another break with two miles left and everyone was exhausted.  Some of the youth didn't understand the concept that food and water is energy for their bodies, and that's when we realized some of had not been drinking or snacking like we had been telling them too.  That's when my mothering skills kicked and I knew it was time for "scare tactics" to make them understand the dangers of dehydration and made them understand that food is energy.  As well as letting them know if we didn't finish before 6 p.m. we would have to hike an extra mile back to the Visitor Center.  Then everyone quickly hiked down to the Bear Gulch parking and we made it to the parking lot before 6 p.m.


Apparently hiking with a group of teenagers is as slow as hiking with toddlers, approx. 1 mph.

Elevation Change was approx. 1300 feet, highest elevation 2,500 feet but it felt much higher since we were right on the edge of a rock.

Condor Gulch - High Peaks - Bear Gulch Trail

Overall, it was a great first youth camping trip and will definitely be doing more in the future.  With each trip we learn more and more about our youth and how to lead a camping group better as well introducing our church youth to the great creation that God made to enjoy.

Related Posts:

Youth Camping & Hiking at Pinnacles National Park

My husband, +Jesse Avery and I are youth leaders at our church, Iglesia Esperanza Viva in Newark, California so we decided to take our youth group (Jr. High and High School students) camping and hiking during their Spring Break to Pinnacles National Park.

Day 1, Thursday, April 4, 2013:
After squeezing all ten youths, four adults and two toddlers into a 1980's school bus and our Ford Escape, we left Newark towards Pinnacles National Park.  We stopped in Hollister for lunch at Neighborhood Pizza and gas, only to find out that the church bus wouldn't start.  It's been a recurring problem, but long story short we got the bus started and headed down to Pinnacles NP where we waited for replacement vehicles.

+Jesse Avery had recently taken Front Country Leadership Training, through the Bay Area Wilderness Training, which trains youth leaders to take youth outdoors.  Jesse directed everyone to setup camp which went pretty smoothly, after my 15 minutes of irritation that my toddlers where swimming in the dirt.  I just need 15 minutes to come to grips that my toddlers would be dirty the entire trip and then I'm alright.

Casa de los Avery's
It had been a long day, so there were no hiking trips or activities planned because it really takes an enormous amount of time to setup camp for 16 people.  The dinner crew started setting up for dinner which was pre-made chicken fajitas from Mi Pueblo in Newark.  I knew no one was going to have time to cut and prepare food, so I thought to get fajitas would be easy enough to just throw in the skillet!

Jesse taught the youth how to make fire, how to adjust their backpacks for the following days hike as well as how setup camp.  In the meantime I was trying to corral my toddlers and setup our mansion tent.  While taking a break, we happened to see Condors flying up above our campsite.  I was ecstatic because I did not see any Condors on our previous family trip to Pinnacles.

As always, everyone was excited to camp and not tired on the first night so all night I could here the youth girls tent yelling at the boys tent and visa versa.  Eventually everyone went to sleep, I think about 3:30 a.m.  It was a zoo all night long, frogs loudly croaked, owls hooted and there were even pigs fighting with what sounded like a raccoon, not to mention the girls laughing.

Day 2, Friday, April 5, 2013:

I tried to sleep in a bit but my daughter, Sophia was awake by 6:30 a.m. so we joined the breakfast crew and let our son, David sleep.  Everyone ate breakfast, packed our lunches and off we went to Bear Gulch Day Use Area so we could start our hike to Bear Gulch Caves and Reservoir.  We selected the Senior year students to be Leaders and Sweepers (End of the line leaders) and started hiking towards the Caves on Bear Gulch Trail.for 1 mile.

During that 1 mile we hiked through the caves which the teenagers and my toddlers thoroughly enjoyed.  Another adult hiker (not in our group), had hit her head on a low lying rock and was obviously in pain.  Everyone checked on her to see if she needed help but seemed more irritated as each passerby asked if she needed help.  Oh well.

The troops piling into the caves.
Everyone in our group emerged safely and we headed through one more set of caves that were "open" (sunlight lighted the way) and then up the stairs to Bear Gulch Reservoir for lunch time.  Originally we decided to hike to the Reservoir and back, but the kids were still enthusiastic about hiking so we decided to hike past the Reservoir towards North Chalone Peak on Chalone Peak Trail.

There were lots of wildflowers such as California Poppies, Indian Warriors, Shooting Stars as well as others that I don't know their names.  I'm a slow hiker because I'm a slow hiker and the fact that I'm usually carrying a backpack and one of my toddlers, so I take the time to take pictures of flowers, landscapes, etc.  The views of the High Peaks were amazing and we could see the trail that we would be hiking the following day but I didn't want to point it out to our youth because some of them were struggling or just not used to hiking.

My daughter fell asleep in my carrier for awhile which is always relaxing and this time I had company other than my husband to talk to.  One of the other youth leaders, Manuel found a baby rattlesnake during the hike up to the ridge.  Halfway up to the ridge a few of the youth were wanting to turn back but eventually everyone decided to continue up to the ridge, good peer pressure!  At the ridge the more adventurous teenagers wanted to continue to the North Chalone Peak which was at 3,304 ft, but after a long break at the ridge we headed back down the mountain.

We took another break at the Reservoir again and headed towards the caves.  I really didn't care for going through the caves again so I (along with Sophia) took the non-cave Moses Spring Trail with two other youths, Jose and Noe while the rest of the group went cave exploring.  We all eventually met back up at the Bear Gulch Day Use Area.

Everyone happily went back to camp, BBQ some Carne Asada, had some good campfire talks and went to bed.  My toddlers were exhausted and I fell asleep with my children.  I think I was partially dehydrated because I had a small headache and couldn't quench my thirst all afternoon, no matter how much water I had.  Just an extra reminder to continually drink water while hiking even if I don't feel thirsty.  Even the teenagers were really tired and everyone went to bed quickly.  It was a much quieter night except for some "ranchero" music playing in the wee hours.


Hiked 5.2 miles in 6:11 hours.  I thought we'd hike faster than when we hike with our toddlers but apparently we hiked slower, I guess 16 hikers take their time as well.  

Elevation Change of about 1,100 feet

Bear Gulch Trail to Chalone Peak Trail (In & Out trail)

More pictures!

View of High Peaks from Chalone Peak Trail
Evidence I can carry my enormous toddler (35 lbs, maybe more)
My daughter really loves dirt, I mean really loves it.....
Flowers, unknown name
Jesse carrying David down to Bear Gulch
Jose (one of the youth's) enjoying the rock formations.
Day 3 of camping was so awesome it needs it own post!

Henry W. Coe State Park, Middle Ridge Trail Loop

"May these quiet hills bring peace to the souls of those who are seeking" - Henry Willard Coe

Last Saturday, we decided to do a "long hike" with our toddlers at Henry W. Coe State Park.  We were all itching to be outside after being confined to the house all week from the rain and my awful allergies.  We finally arrived to Henry Coe - Coe Ranch Entrance about 11:30 a.m.  The drive to the park was beautiful and it amazed me how close and quickly it became "not a suburb" of Morgan Hill on East Dunne Avenue.

We parked in overflow parking lot and hiked in 1/2 a mile the visitors center.  My daughter had not slept well (the story of her life) the night before so she was extra cranky so she spent hiking most of the day with +Jesse Avery and I with my son, David.

We arrived at the Visitor's Centers and saw lots of taxidermy animals, like the mountain lion, owls and other various birds.  The Park Ranger was very helpful and we decided to hike the Middle Ridge Trail loop between a 6.5-7.5 mile hike.  She also gave our kids some stickers, so they were really happy.  We gave the kids some chocolate and started up Manzanita Road toward Frog Lake.  The views were amazing on this part of the trail, the view is pictured above.

We finally have figured a method to hike with our toddlers, my husband takes Sophia on his shoulders and hikes as far as he can until Sophia wants to "hike" (aka, play in the dirt).  David and I eventually catch up to them and we have a snack, water break.  I only carry Sophia in the carrier when she's ready for her nap or if shes really cranky or else she's "hiking" on dad's shoulders.

Up, up up Manzanita Trail
David and I saw lots of California Poppies, which he wanted to pick to give to me but I told him those flowers were for looking only.  On the way up David and I saw a Stellar Jay, which looked like a Blue Jay so that's what I called it at the time.  We met up at the trail marker, had snacks, water and talked a little bit with some older hikers from the Felton and Connecticut, who were also taking a break.

We hiked to Coe Monument which was only 10 minute walk from our previous break.  It was rather windy and chilly at the top (approx. 3,000 feet).  The quote at the beginning of this post was the written on the monument, behind Sophia in the picture above.  The hills are very peaceful at Henry Coe SP, I felt like I was at Sequoia National Park.  Most of my childhood camping outdoor memories are at Sequoia National Park with my parents and my older brother.  I remember the smell of pines and how the trees sounded when the wind would pick up.  Hiking at Henry Coe SP had the same feeling the smell of the pine trees and the sound of the trees swaying in the wind.  I loved it.

All along the trails there were amazing Manzanita trees, very tall, the tallest I've ever seen in my life.  Jesse took off hiking with Sophia and I hiked with David for a long time.  I love having alone time with each of my kids and hiking provides this opportunity.  Jesse had bonding time with his baby girl and I had bonding time with my baby boy, who's not a baby anymore.  We hiked on Hobb's Road which was a dirt fire road, mostly downhill.  We saw some Indian Warrior plants, met some older hikers, found some deer tracks, and heard some frogs as we got near Little Fork Coyote Creek where Jesse and Sophia were waiting for us.

Lunch time at Little Fork Coyote Creek, had musical guests! The frogs were quiet for most of the time while we had our lunch but all of a sudden the frogs croaked very loudly, so loud that David and Sophia were scared for a few minutes.  We didn't see any animals until the end of our hike but we definitely heard and saw animal signs!  Sophia almost tumbled into the creek but my mommy lightening speed instincts kicked in and caught her before she fell in.  The creek was almost dry but she would have definitely gotten soaked.

After lunch, we left Hobbs Road and started on Frog Lake Trail to Frog Lake.  It was another 10 minute hike from the creek but we have to stop at every water source we find so the kids can throw pebbles in the water.

I was glad that Frog Lake was an actual lake because some website sources said that later on in the year it's more of an algae puddle.  Here's another picture of Frog Lake on my Google+ account.  I believe there was a campsite on the other side of the lake, but I might be mistaken.  The kids threw rocks in the lake and tried to fall in the lake as well, while I took pictures and had more snacks.  After we left Frog Lake, Frog Lake trail was uphill with some switch backs until we reached Middle Ridge Trail.

More evidences of animals, Acorn Woodpeckers in this case, here's a picture of one when we visited Pinnacles National Park in February this year.

Middle Ridge Trail, the views from here were amazing.  The camera can never truly capture what the eyes can see but it was really beautiful out there.  Sophia had fallen asleep in my front carrier, when we were climbing up Frog Lake Trail and slept most of the way on Middle Ridge Trail.  I had one moment when I was hiking alone with Sophia that was my surroundings came to life.  The winds were blowing and the pines trees were swaying and a dead fallen trees leaves rustled in the wind and I felt like the Earth was singing praises to The Creator and it reminded me of the following Bible verses, Psalm 96:11-13.

     Let the heavens rejoice, let the earth be glad; let the sea resound, and all that is in it.
     Let the fields be jubliant, and everything in them; let all the trees of the forest sing for joy.
     Let all creation rejoice before the Lord, for he comes, he comes to judge the earth.
     He will judge the world in righteousness and the peoples in his faithfulness.

The Park Ranger describe Middle Ridge Trail as rolling hills which was very true except the part of the trail right after the picture above was taken.  David was a little tired when I took this picture, granted Jesse carried David on his shoulders up this steep part of the trail, which was quite a workout.  We stopped for a break after that uphill climb especially with each of us carrying toddlers.  I was huffing and puffing to get up the hill!

The steep climb was worth it, because at the top of the ridge was full of wildflowers!  There were shooting stars and an abundant of Indian Warriors along the trail, it was really beautiful.  As you can see my son rolling on the floor he needed a break so we stopped for "second lunch" at what looked like Indian Warrior heaven!

Everywhere we turned there were other wildflowers but primarily Indian Warriors.  It was very memorable, surrounded by previously burnt trees trying to come back to life and the forest floor covered in Indian Warriors.  Absolutely my FAVORITE part of the hike.  I took many pictures of different wildflowers but my camera isn't a really good and most of my pictures came out blurry. I believe these white flowers are called California Milkmaids.

After we left the Indian Warrior "field", we figured we had two hours left of sunlight and still had 2-3 miles left.  The trail was still going down hill and my son was tripping and rolling down the trail for fun, but he usually starts acting like that when he's very tired.  We hike at an average 1.5 mph with kids, it seems so slow but that how it is with toddlers.  We finally reached the end of Middle Ridge Trail and had 2.5 miles left on Fish Trail-Corral Trail to reach Coe Headquarters.

Sophia wanted to hike and it was finally safe enough for her to hike on level ground so she actually hiked for a few hundred feet before it the trail started descending.  Sophia bent down to pick up something and then flipped over and took a tumble down the "hill", it took a split second for me to realize she wasn't going to roll down the hill so we just laughed it off.

Jesse carried Sophia and I hiked with David most of the way on Fish Trail before we reached Little Fork Coyote Creek again.  At some point, David was completely done hiking and no amount of chocolate would keep him hiking!  Jesse loaded David up on his shoulders and I flipped my ERGO carrier around so Sophia can ride on my back and I put my backpack on my front-side.

We had another uphill 1.5 mile hike left with toddlers to carry.  I was really getting a work out, really tired and starting to get sloppy with my footwork.  I almost fell down at least five occasions!

With about 0.5 miles left to reach the Visitor's Center, we all see two deer's jump across in some trees near us.  I'm just glad my son and daughter saw some wildlife! I love seeing their reactions when they see "wild" animals when we are hiking.  We finally made it back the visitors center and the kids where beat but it was still another 0.5 miles to the car.  Jesse left us at some picnic tables with snacks and went to retrieve our car.

I thought our adventure would end there but it didn't....midway down the East Dunne Road, Jesse realized he  had a tick in his armpit, so he rips it out and throws it out the window.  I checked the kids but them seem clear and I checked myself and I seem clear as well.  We stopped at Jack In The Box to have some dinner and I'm paranoid that I have a tick.  As we finished up eating, I'm still paranoid about every itch I feel and then I feel an itch on my thigh/butt cheek so I decided to change my clothes.  Low and behold I found a tick on my butt cheek, so I yelled for Jesse and he ripped it out and threw it in the toilet.  That was my first tick ever and I hope I never get one again.


Total Miles Hiked: 7.5 Miles in 6 hours 56 minutes

Manzanita Trail - Hobb's Road - Frog Lake Trail - Middle Ridge Trail - Frog Lake Trail - Corral Trail

Overall this was a great hike, maybe not very toddler friendly and for parents not used to hiking with their small children, but for parents who hike with their kids often this was a great hike. This was our LONGEST hike to date with our toddlers and we had a blast!

Happy Hiking!

Pinnacles National Park

Saturday, February 2, 2013: Starting off the post with an "old time" picture.  We arrived at Pinnacles National Park (formerly Pinnacles National Monument) in about an hour and forty-five minutes from Fremont.  Just about how long my kids last in the car without stopping.  My husband check-in, paid our parking fees while I took the kiddos to the baño.  I love visitor/gift shops, my former "mall rat" personality wanted to impulse buy all the little nick-knacks in the gift shop but I resisted.

I had a small conversation with the Park Ranger in regards to "kid-friendly" trails and she suggested what I had planned, hiking to the Bear Gulch Caves.  She had mentioned that the Bear Gulch Day Use Parking was completely full so we would have to park on Bench Trail and hike into Bear Gulch Day Use area.

Here I am at Peaks View on Bench Trail, with Pinnacles incorrect sign.  Pinnacles has recently been upgraded to a National Park, yay!! After what seemed like an eternity to get the backpacks ready, changed baby diapers, collected everything that is needed to hike with children, we were finally ready to start our hike.

We started at Bear Gulch Trail head where it intersected with Bench Trail and SLOWLY started hiking across a dry river bed.  The kids had been sitting in there car seats for almost two hours so they wanted to "hike".   Here's my daughter "hiking"....its really frustrating sometimes because it takes us so long to get hiking and then all the kids want to do is sit in the dirt and play with the rocks.  We just have to remind ourselves that hiking with little ones is all about the journey and not the destination.  Patience is the key word.

Bear Gulch Trail to the day use area was a low grade uphill trail, approximately one mile but it was the hardest mile of our lives.  After the kids were done "hiking" we loaded them up in our carriers and started to hike at our "normal" pace.  My daughter weighs 25 lbs + 5 lbs carrier + 10 lbs of stuff in the carrier = 40 lbs minimum on my back.  I'm 5 feet tall and weigh 114 lbs, that's a lot of weight for me.  Not to mention my husband who carried our son who weighs 35 lbs + 7 lbs carrier + 15 lbs of stuff = 57 lbs minimum on his back.  It was an fairly easy hike to the day use area but with all that weight and a slight uphill trail it was so difficult.

The Beach Gulch Trail followed a dry creek, which turned into a real creek, then disappeared into a dry creek then it would appear again all along the trail to the day use area.  I saw this heart shaped cave that had the creek flowing in it.  I thought it was very beautiful.

My super strong husband hiking on Bear Gulch Trail.

A long mile later we had reached the Beach Gulch Day Use Area.  We were headed to the Bear Gulch caves, but we wanted to have lunch at the picnic tables and give our backs a break.  My daughter was passed out asleep in my carrier so we made her comfortable with a neck pillow and the rest of us had lunch.  I thought this sign was a little funny, why wouldn't hikers use the trail?

Woody Woodpecker decided to join us for lunch as well.  After doing a little research on this particular Woodpecker, it is an Acorn Woodpecker.  They are very protective of their acorn "storage" trees.

Our first view of Pinnacles awesome rocks a few minutes after we started to hike after our lunch break.  Designated rock climbing areas where everywhere and so were the rock climbers.  If I were a rock climber (which I'm not) I would definitely climb at Pinnacles.

Our son had been watching an episode of "Go, Diego, Go" where Diego goes into caves to save the Tamarin Monkey's with a flashlight. Of course we had to take every flashlight we owned because that is what you need to go through a cave according to our son.  He kept telling me, "Don't worry mommy! I have a flash light!!" Sometimes TV episodes can come to life for my little one.  My son truly loved the caves.  On the other hand, my daughter was clinging on to me for dear life.

Bear Gulch Caves were very nice.  The temperature dropped significantly once we were in the caves, the creek was running through it and it was very dark, pitch black at some points.  Everything was a little wet, there were little bridges to cross the creek and sometimes the creek overflowed the bridges.  Those are the moments I'm glad I purchased real hiking boots for my toddler.

The trail disappeared into the darkness of the caves and we started to go up the stairs to get out of the caves.  My daughter was a little frightened from all the darkness, but she just needed to hear my voice when she couldn't see me.  At certain points, my husband had to guide me how to turn to not hit my daughter against the cave walls.  There was an extremely narrow part of the caves that my son could easily get by (being a toddler) but my husband had to drag himself on his belly and I had to crawl on my knees with my daugher still in my backpack.  My husband guided me from the front and the people behind me guided me from the back.  It was quite exciting, I must say.  At some point after we exited the caves I lost my daughter's pink highlighter jacket, a clothing sacrifice.  (We later found it stuffed in our backpacks).

I was a little disappointed with my camera in the caves.  None of my caves pictures came out nice, very blurry or the lighting was bad.  The picture above with the rugged looking feel, had to be edited because it just looked like a washed out photograph.  I love how it looks like the giant boulder is about to fall down. Up, up up to Bear Gulch Reservoir we went.

One of my favorite pictures of this hike at Bear Gulch Reservoir.  We had second lunch at the Reservoir and watched other parents chastise their kids for trying to "not" fall in the water.  At one point my daughter got a running start down the hill towards the water and mama bear instincts came out, ran down the hill and grabbed her.

We decided to try to hike up to High Peaks, so we left the Reservoir and started on Rim Trail.  A view of Bear Gulch Reservoir from Rim Trail which was only 0.4 miles.  We saw so many rock climbers in those 0.4 miles, quite amazing.

I hadn't even noticed that we were on High Peaks Trail because I was trying to distract my daughter from not wanting to get out of the carrier by giving her pieces of chocolate.  Rim Trail and High Peaks Trail are the types of trails I love, beautiful scenery that we can quickly cover lots of ground even at our son's hiking pace.  We saw lots of Manzanita trees, Shoot Star Flowers, and lots of green.  One of my "artistic" pictures while we took a break and the kids ran around playing in the dirt.

We hiked to the base of Scout Peak when the kids were getting cranky.  Our goal was to hike to the High Peaks because that's what Pinnacles is all about and the possibility of seeing Condors up there.  It was 4:30 p.m. and we had to reevaluate our hike.  With only one hour left before sunset we had to turn back and head down back the way we came.  The trail was becoming narrower and steeper and our son was becoming too comfortable with his proximity to the cliffs so we had no problem turning around.  We strapped the kids back in our carriers and headed back down to the Bear Gulch Day Use Area.

It was a very overcast day, but at sunset the sun finally broke through the clouds and it was a beautiful sunset.  I took a few pictures of the sunset but none came out nice.  New camera needed indeed.  We made it back to the Day Use Area just before all the light had left the sky, just in time.


My husband ran from the day use area to where our car was parked and drove to the day use area to pick us up. That is why the distance is 6.4 miles, but the rest of us hiked 5.4 miles.  Best husband ever!

We started at the far right hiked through the caves, to the reservoir to the base of Scout Peak and back to the Bear Gulch Day Use Area.

About 1,600 feet in elevation change.

I loved this hike and definitely will be visiting Pinnacles National Park again.  Happy Hiking!!

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Related Posts and Links:
  1. Youth Camping & Hiking at Pinnacles National Park
  2. High Peaks at Pinnacles National Park