Pinnacles National Monument... Just Minutes from Soledad and one of the Nationns treasures.
Growing up South Monterey County we visited the Pinnacles many times on school trips and family outings. I remember as a kid how fun it was everytime we went. The most exciting part of going for me was climbing through the huge underground caves and the wild flowers growing everywhere.
Here is a little histroy (I did copy some of the following facts)
Anthropologists believe Pinnacles was intermittently occupied by small groups of Native Americans. Evidence in the form of arrowheads and acorn grinding stones have been discovered within the monument.
Native Americans, called Costanoans by Spanish colonials, (derived from Spanish for "people of the coast"), inhabited western central California. Two local subgroups, the Chalone and Mutsun, visited Pinnacles. Subgroup populations ranged between 50 and 500 people. The Chalone lived west of Pinnacles in the Salinas River valley and the Mutsun lived to the north and east in the San Juan Bautista area and along the San Benito river.
The Spanish had a dramatic impact on the Native Americans who frequented Pinnacles. They traveled into California from Mexico and eventually established 21 religious missions between 1769 and 1823, stretching from San Diego to Sonoma.
The mission closest to Pinnacles was built in Soledad in 1791. The Chalone Indians lived in the area east of Soledad Mission -- close to what is now the western side of PinnaclesNational Monument.
In 1891 Schuyler Hain, a homesteader, arrived in the Pinnacles area from Michigan. During the next twenty years he became known as the “Father of Pinnacles” leading tours up through Bear Valley and into the caves. Hain spoke to groups and wrote articles urging preservation of the area and acted as unofficial caretaker for many years. His efforts proved fruitful with the establishment of Pinnacles as a 2500 acre national monument in 1908 by President Theodore Roosevelt.
Civilian Conservation Corps
In 1933, the Civilian Conservation Corps established a camp in what is now the Old Pinnacles trailhead area. From 1933 to 1942, during cooler winter months, the CCC accomplished many projects. The dirt road up to Bear Gulch was widened, paved and completed in 1934. The CCC improved many of the trails that had been established by the early homesteaders, including the exciting steep and narrow trail that winds through the HighPeaks. They constructed the dam that forms the Bear Gulch reservoir and improved the trail into the caves, adding concrete steps and guard rails. Beginning in 1936 the CCC boys guided visitors through the caves using lanterns.
The rolling chaparral and dramatic rock faces of Pinnacles National Monument inspire loyalty in visitors, from picnickers to rock-climbers, and from stargazers to cave explorers. Pinnacles is visually stunning, as anyone who has seen the smooth orb of the moon glide from behind the crags of the High Peaks can attest, or who has watched the flashing black and white wings of acorn woodpeckers as they tuck acorns into the thick bark of gray pines. This striking beauty is attributable, in part, to the Monument’s geologic formations, showcase chaparral habitat, finely intergraded ecosystems, and protected native plant and animal diversity. Another special Pinnacles quality is its proximity to millions of people. We invite you to come and visit this corner of the National Park Service: Pinnacles National Monument.
If your coming to Carmel, Monterey, or Monterey County take a day to see the pinnacles. I promise you will not have seen anything like it before.
Directions from South
Take Hwy 101 south through the city of Gilroy to Hwy 25 south. On Hwy 25, go through the town of Hollister and continue about 30 miles to Hwy 146. Turn right on Hwy 146, then turn left into the Pinnacles Campground to check in at Pinnacles Visitor Center. From the campground, the Bear Gulch Area is 3.5 miles further into the park along Hwy 146.
Directions from South
Take Hwy 101 North to the town of King City. Exit at 1st Street. Turn right toward King City. Continue straight until 1st St turns into Bitterwater Rd (Monterey County G13). Follow Bitterwater Rd until it intersects Hwy 25. Turn left on Hwy 25 (North) and follow for ~15 miles. Turn left onto Hwy 146 to enter the monument. Turn left into the Pinnacles Campground and check in at Pinnacles Visitor Center. The Bear Gulch Area is 3.5 miles further into the park along Hwy. 146.