Arrowhead Pinnacles Hike

Lake Arrowhead Pinnacles Trail Hike

In This Guide
  • Turn by Turn Hike Directions & Hike Video
  • Arrowhead Pinnacles Trail Maps
  • How to Get to the Arrowhead Pinnacles Trail
Distance4 miles (6.4 km)
Hike Time2:30 Hours (Total)
DifficultyModerate
Total Ascent (?)1,000 feet (305m)
Highest Elevation5,737 feet (1749m)
Fees & PermitsParking Pass
Dog FriendlyLeashed
Park WebsiteSan Bernardino National Forest
Park Phone909-382-2600

Feeling more like Joshua Tree than Lake Arrowhead, this short but tough hike to the summit of The Pinnacles rewards you with a stone perch where you can soak in 360-degree views from the mountains to the Mojave. The hike ascends through a granite boulder field to a small plateau, then after a last mild scramble to the boulder-pile summit, you reach The Pinnacles peak. It’s a fun hike that’s a bit off the beaten path; don’t be surprised if you have the whole place to yourself.

As a bonus, the Pinnacles peak is part of the Sierra Club 100 Peaks (SoCal) list.

How To Get to the Lake Arrowhead Pinnacles Trail

The trailhead is in the Lake Arrowhead area, on the east side where the mountains transition to the desert. Getting to the trailhead is kind of tricky on paper but easy when you get there. The official trailhead is right by the Arrowhead Fish & Game Conservation Club (a gun club and shooting range). But the parking area is a minute or two before you reach the official trailhead on your left. When you’re about 3-4 minutes out from the destination on your GPS, keep an eye open on the left for the trail sign and parking area.

Arrowhead Pinnacles Hike Directions 3

Use this address in Google Maps to get to the official start:

Pinnacles Trail 3W16, CA-173, Hesperia, CA 92345

The address for the parking area isn’t on Google Maps, but you can use the geo coordinates:

34°17’39.3″N 117°12’47.6″W
34.294244, -117.213207

There are no bathrooms at the trailhead.

Since you’re in San Bernardino National Forest, you need a parks pass or Adventure Pass in your window when you park.

CA-173 can close when there’s a lot of snow and ice, check the conditions here if in doubt.

Deciding Where To Start the Hike

Why do I have two trailheads? Well, if you use the official trailhead, you need to walk down the road from the parking area. It’s a short walk and not a big deal. Here’s what the official trailhead looks, which is next to the fence of the gun club.

Arrowhead Pinnacles Hike Directions 4
The official start of the trail is by the gun club fence.

I choose to start the hike in the parking area, which is the way I’ve listed in the directions that follow. I like it better because I avoid the walk along the road and avoid getting closer to any shooting that could be happening on the gun club range. The gun range can get loud and is not my cup of tea when hiking.

You can certainly walk to the official trailhead and do the hike. I’ll show you where you join the hike in the directions below.

Gear For the Hike

There is almost no shade on this hike, so plenty of water is a must. Otherwise you can probably get away with fitness gear, but I opt for my regular hiking kit here. There is a bit of boulder scrambling, so if you hike with trekking poles, make sure you can attach them to your pack when you need both hands to climb.

Here’s the gear that I personally use, have tested, and recommend for this hike.See All of My Best Gear Picks Here

Osprey Talon

Osprey Talon 33

My best lightweight pack for hikes between 3-10+ hours. I use mine with the 3L water bladder from Osprey.

Women’s Reviews

Men’s Reviews

Garmin Inreach Mini Beacon

Garmin InReach Mini

You can text, SOS, and get weather in the backcountry where your cell phone doesn’t work. Literally a life-saver.

Lowest Prices

My In-Depth Review

La Sportiva Spire

La Sportiva Spire GTX

Modern materials mean you get the protection of a traditional hiking boot (waterproof, etc.) with feel of a sneaker.

Women’s Reviews

Men’s Reviews

Black Diamond Trekking Poles

Flash Carbon Trekking Poles

If you’re not using poles yet, you should be. This model takes a beating, is light, and is super comfortable.

See The Reviews

Socks Sock Liners

2-Layer Sock System

I use a light inner toe sock and then a top-quality outer sock to prevent blisters.

Injinji Sock Liners

Darn Tough Socks

Joby On Triee

Best Tripod For the Outdoors

Joby tripods attach to anything. The legs are adjustable and grippy, so you can put them on trees, packs, rocks, whatever. And they work like regular tripods too. Works with everything from smartphones to DSLRs.

Checkout Joby Tripods

No company pays me to promote or push a product, all the gear you see here is gear I use and recommend. If you click an REI link and buy gear, I get a small commission that helps offset website expenses. There is no cost to you.

HikingGuy Store

Hiking T Shirt Store Gifts

Website visitors get 20% off orders over $30 with the coupon code WEBFAN

Browse the HikingGuy Store

Lake Arrowhead Pinnacles Trail Maps

As I mention in my directions below, there are a lot of side trails and splits. The area is popular with rock climbers and there are trails to various climbing spots. In fact, it’s supposed to be one of the best climbing spots in the LA area, similar to Joshua Tree. So if that’s your bag, you can climb too. But for the hike, I’d recommend referring to the GPX file if you come to a split and you’re in doubt.

Click To View Map

Lake Arrowhead Pinnacles Trail Hike Map Downloads

Download the Hike GPX File

View a Printable PDF Hike Map

Here’s How I Navigate The Hike

People ask me all the time, so here you go. I have a few backups that you can see on my gear page, but generally I use a combination of these tools.

Fenix 5x Hiking Nav

Garmin Fenix Map Watch

This thing does everything: maps, GPX tracks, compass, barometer, altitude, heart rate, blood oxygen, fitness tracking, sleep tracking, and the list goes on. I keep a GPX route on the watch so I can quickly glance down and make sure I’m in the right place.

Fenix Prices & Reviews

My In-Depth Review

Gaia Gps

Gaia GPS

I load a few types of offline maps onto my smartphone when I need to interact with the map in detail. I also use it before my hikes as a planning tool for all kinds of things, including finding free government land to camp on. The benefits are many, I highly recommend it.

Gaia GPS Benefits

HikingGuy Discount

Paper Nav

Topo Maps & Guide Books

Don’t be caught out if your batteries die. Take a topo map with you on the trail and learn how to read it. Some people also print my guides out for use on the hike. I’m a map geek and I love to pour over maps and guide books when planning my next adventure.

Browse Topo Maps

Great Hiking Guide Books

Don’t just rely on a cell phone, especially if you are hiking in the backcountry.

Arrowhead Pinnacles Elevation Profile

Arrowhead Pinnacles Hike Elevation

Arrowhead Pinnacles 3D Map

Arrowhead Pinnacles Hike 3d Map

Lake Arrowhead Pinnacles Hike Directions

Video Directions

View This Video in 360

Get notified when new guides come out with the links below.

Subscribe to HikingGuy on YouTube

Get My Quarterly Newsletter

Turn by Turn Directions

Arrowhead Pinnacles Hike Directions 2
There’s limited parking at the trailhead but it’s usually pretty empty. Look for the big forest service sign. This is the “unofficial trailhead” that I mentioned earlier.
Arrowhead Pinnacles Hike Directions 5
Head through the gate at the parking area and follow the trail through the meadow.
Arrowhead Pinnacles Hike Directions 6
The peak you see in the distance isn’t the Pinnacles, but rather an unnamed 5078 ft peak before it. You have another 700 feet to climb past the peak to get to the summit.
Arrowhead Pinnacles Hike Directions 7
The beginning of the unofficial trail can be confusing. There are a lot of trails that cut across this little hill to get to the main trail. Most of the trails you see will bring you to the main trail. But follow these directions and you’ll be golden.
Arrowhead Pinnacles Hike Directions 8
Head over the wash and up the trail. You can also follow the wash up and over but it can get overgrown.
Arrowhead Pinnacles Hike Directions 9
Head around the boulders to the ridge.
Arrowhead Pinnacles Hike Directions 10
As you crest the east side of the hill, the main trail will be visible ahead. Head towards it on the narrower trail.
Arrowhead Pinnacles Hike Directions 11
Head left on the Pinnacles Trail.If you came from the gun club trailhead, you’ll be on that trail already.
Arrowhead Pinnacles Hike Directions 12
There are some small stream crossings. Keep straight on the trail.
Arrowhead Pinnacles Hike Directions 13
The trail starts to slope upwards.
Arrowhead Pinnacles Hike Directions 14
Some sections become steep as you keep hiking.
Arrowhead Pinnacles Hike Directions 15
Keep hiking uphill.
Arrowhead Pinnacles Hike Directions 16
After you crest the last ridge, make the hard right down the steep hill. The post marks the spot.
Arrowhead Pinnacles Hike Directions 17
Head up the hill after the short descent.
Arrowhead Pinnacles Hike Directions 18
The trail mellows out before going up again, approaching the unnamed peak that’s been looming in front of you from the start.
Arrowhead Pinnacles Hike Directions 19
This next section makes its way through the boulders and can get tricky. Look for cairns to mark the way.
Arrowhead Pinnacles Hike Directions 20
Where there are no cairns, you can always look for well-worn dirt after you cross rocks and boulders.
Arrowhead Pinnacles Hike Directions 21
Keep picking your way upwards through the boulders and manzanita.
Arrowhead Pinnacles Hike Directions 22
After you gain a small ridge, you’ll see a trail marker confirming that you’re in the right place.
Arrowhead Pinnacles Hike Directions 23
The next stretch heads through a boulder field. There’s some light scrambling as the trail goes up and over boulders.
Arrowhead Pinnacles Hike Directions 25
Look for the cairns to confirm you’re in the right place.
Arrowhead Pinnacles Hike Directions 27
After the boulder section, the trail becomes a trail again. You’re rewarded with a trail marker.
Arrowhead Pinnacles Hike Directions 28
This part can get tricky. Shortly after the last trail marker you’ll round a bend and hit an intersection. Make the counter-intuitive hard right down the steep hill.
Arrowhead Pinnacles Hike Directions 29
Climb up from the last turn to the trail marker.
Arrowhead Pinnacles Hike Directions 31
When you reach the marker, head straight.
Arrowhead Pinnacles Hike Directions 30
Don’t forget to turn around and soak in the views. The fire damage you see on the upper slopes is from the 2016 Pilot fire which didn’t get too big but did close the PCT for a while.
Arrowhead Pinnacles Hike Directions 32
The trail mellows out and is relatively easy to follow with cairns confirming you’re in the right place.
Arrowhead Pinnacles Hike Directions 33
Head up to the plateau near the summit.
Arrowhead Pinnacles Hike Directions 34
Getting close! Ahead of you is The Pinnacles. You’ll be climbing to the top of that hill of boulders soon.
Arrowhead Pinnacles Hike Directions 35
Follow the markers for the trail. There are a ton of side trail splits to rock climbing spots. In general you’re heading toward the huge pile of rocks ahead of you.
Arrowhead Pinnacles Hike Directions 36
This section of the trail also has cairns marking the way (like in the lower right-hand corner of this shot).
Arrowhead Pinnacles Hike Directions 37
A marker shows you the start of the last stretch to the summit, which involves a bit of scrambling. Follow the trail and cairns.
Arrowhead Pinnacles Hike Directions 38
There are a decent amount of cairns on this stretch. If you don’t see any, try looking around for other routes. If you think you’re in the wrong spot, go down and go back up.
Arrowhead Pinnacles Hike Directions 46
This was the steepest section that you have to pull yourself up on. I needed both hands but it’s doable. Nothing over 3 or 4 feet.
Arrowhead Pinnacles Hike Directions 39
Eventually you get to this little nest at the summit. You made it!
Arrowhead Pinnacles Hike Directions 44
Ignore the graffiti and climb up on the rocks around the edge for the views.
Arrowhead Pinnacles Hike Directions 40
There are great views east into the Mojave.
Arrowhead Pinnacles Hike Directions 42
And west to Silverwood Lake and Mt Baldy.
Arrowhead Pinnacles Hike Directions 43
There’s also a register in a can floating around in the flat area.
Arrowhead Pinnacles Hike Directions 41
That’s the hike! From here just head back down the way you came.
Arrowhead Pinnacles Hike Directions 45
A top on descending: look for the cairns on the boulder section to lead the way.
Arrowhead Pinnacles Hike Directions 47
The views on the descent aren’t too shabby either.

Did something change on this hike? If so, please contact me and let me know. I'll update the guide.

If you see trash on the trail, please pick it up and carry it out. Be a good egg and practice no trace principles.