Pinnacles Hike in Valley of Fire

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(Fig. 01)
Pinnacles Trail-2
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(Fig. 03)
Hike Description: The Pinnacles trail, in yellow on (Fig. 02), approximately 5 miles round-trip, is an easy to moderate unmaintained trail accessible from a trailhead that starts at Atlatl Rock and proceeds toward a distant outcrop of white sandstone(Fig. 03). This is one of the longer hikes in the park and there are only a few trail markers to help you find your way through the dry washes and around the ridge to the northwest and into view of the Pinnacles (Fig. 04).  A good portion of the hike takes you through loose sand and gravel and there is some minor scrambling through the formation itself in order to complete the middle part of the hike (Fig. 05). Once you reach this area, the views and scenery in every direction rewards the hiker for their efforts. The formations know as “The Pinnacles” are not visible from the road and only come into view as you round the southern edge of a ridge of darker gray green rock.  If you are lucky enough to start the hike in the morning with the sun roughly behind you, the Pinnacles will appear to be on fire.  This is an excellent hike to view many of the plants common to the park, especially along the return (Fig. 02), as it leads you back across the desert. You'll see an abundance of Red Barrel Cactus, Teddy Bear Cholla, and other cacti and, in spring, many wildflowers including primrose, dusty-maiden, desert larkspur, strawberry hedgehog, winterfat and many others. At one point during our hike, our guide pointed out what she called cryptobiotic soils, and the importance of not walking on them whenever possible while hiking in the desert. Click here for more information ... Cryptobiotic Soil
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(Fig. 05)

01/01/2014 Trip Notes: Today I hiked the Pinnacles Trail with two of my regular hiking partners, Harvey Smith and Robert Croke, and fifteen others in a guided hike Pinnacles that was offered as part of the Park’s First Day Hikes program. From the trailhead, across from the entrance to the Atlatl parking lot, the hike heads west, and north (Fig. 03), following a wash across open desert landscape which eventually leads to an isolated outcropping of impressive colorful red/orange hoodoos or “spires”, that sprout from the rocky hills (Fig. 04). Once we reached the center of the Pinnacles, we all stopped for a lunch break. See the middle of (Fig. 05). Below, (Fig. 06) is actually a view from the wash looking back over the area we hiked in order to reach the Pinnacles. The next two pictures, (Figs. 07 & 08) are looking back at the area that we had to scramble and climb up through to get out of the area. Once we reached the top of this area (Fig. 09), a sandy trail led down to a deep, wide wash (Fig. 10) that headed east, out to the desert ((Fig. 02) and (Fig. 11). After popping up out of the wash, we still had almost a two mile hike south east across the desert (Fig. 12), back to Atlatl Rock and the trailhead. All in all, there was a lot of desert hiking both going out and on the return, but as you can see, the scenery at the Pinnacles was worth the trip.
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(Fig. 09)
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(Fig. 11)
(Fig. 12)

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Slideshow Description:
The slideshow above contains 21 pictures that were taken on this hike.