How to Hike the Pinnacles Trail in Valley of Fire

Valley of Fire

I absolutely adore Valley of Fire – it’s one of the first places I explored in the southwest, and even after multiple trips to Utah, Arizona, and Nevada and visiting dozens of locations, it remains at the top of my list. There are just so many jaw-dropping things to do and see in Valley of Fire!

The way that the scraggly red-orange rocks tower over the the road, the striations in the rocks through the park, and of course, the jaw-dropping Fire Wave make this a top destination to visit near Las Vegas, southern Utah, or the Grand Canyon.

On my most recent trip to Valley of Fire, I decided to venture off the beaten path quite a bit and hike the Pinnacles Trail. It ended up being a great hike, but it’s not an official trail and there’s not a lot of information available about it.

So, in this guide, I’m sharing exactly what you need to know about this hike, how to access it, where the best parts are, and other helpful tips.

How to Hike the Pinnacles Trail in Valley of Fire

Trail Stats

  • Distance: 4.8 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 429 feet
  • Difficulty: Moderate

Trail Maps

The Pinnacles Trail doesn’t appear on any park maps, but it is on AllTrails. When I talked to a ranger about the hike, she told me it is an unofficial trail and not maintained by the park, but that it is a legitimate trail that anyone can do.

For this trail, I would recommend having offline Google Maps downloaded. This will allow you to look up directions and navigate, even when you don’t have cell service (which you often will not have in Valley of Fire).

I would also recommend having the Pinnacles Trail map on All Trails Pro downloaded for offline use. If you start live navigation on your hike, you will be able to compare your progress and location to the trail map. This will be very helpful on the second half of the trail, which is much harder to follow.

Yes, All Trails Pro costs $35, but if you do even a moderate amount of hiking, I think it’s worth it. We use the app quite a bit throughout the year and on practically every hike we do.

Parking + Accessing the Trailhead

Parking to access the Pinnacles trailhead is at the Atlatl Rock parking lot. This is a large lot with a lot of spaces and high turnover – you shouldn’t have a problem getting parking here. You can find this lot here.

To get to the trailhead, walk back out of the parking lot and cross the street towards the scrubby desert land. Just past the sign for the Atlatl parking lot, you’ll see a little trail starting with a sign that says Pinnacles.

This is standing essentially right on the side of the road. You can see there’s a little trail that goes into the scrub and the small sign that says Pinnacles.

The First Half of the Trail

Just a little bit past the Pinnacles sign, you’ll end up in a gravelly wash – this is the trail. The hike is a loop and you’ll definitely want to follow the trail markers clockwise. So, once you hit the gravelly wash, turn left.

This is the trail in the sandy wash – you can’t miss it.

You’ll be walking towards and then around that mountain straight ahead. Keep an eye out for these red trail marker posts:

You’ll hike for about 2 miles through this scrubby and barren desert landscape, swinging behind the gray mountain (in the picture above), until you see some of Valley of Fire’s characteristic round orange boulders rising up in the distance. That’s the Pinnacles section!

This entire section is made up of an obvious path and is very easy to follow.

The Pinnacles Section

Finally, after two miles of hiking, you’ll reach your destination: the Pinnacles rock formations. This area is absolutely gorgeous, with tall, spire-like rocks and plenty of places to scramble around and play. If you hike straight through, this section is just 0.5 miles long, but it’s a stunner.

I’d recommend taking time to wander and explore the different rock formations once you finally arrive.

Enjoy these photos of the Pinnacles of Valley of Fire!

Hiking Back

Because the Pinnacles Trail is a loop, you’ll walk through the Pinnacles section and then continue forward to hike another 2 miles through the desert landscape to the parking lot.

While initially the 2nd half is through a similar type of sandy wash as the first half of the trail, you will eventually make a sharp right turn and cut through the scrubby brush. The turnoff is not well-marked at all and it is incredibly easy to miss it, so having the AllTrails map downloaded becomes very useful here.

While there technically are the same red marker poles indicating the way, they are very few and far between and quite difficult to follow and there is virtually no true path to follow.

I actually had quite a hard time staying on the right path on the way back and relied heavily on the AllTrails app to navigate.

For this reason, I would highly recommend you download and use AllTrails Pro, which will track your location relative to the trail, and alert you if you go off-path.

While you can technically just walk towards this orange rock formation (this is where the Atlatl parking lot is), in actuality, it’s very easy to start wandering off path, add a lot of distance, and not end up where you need to go.

The Wrap Up – Is the Pinnacles Trail Worth It?

I won’t lie, Pinnacles Trail is a long walk for just a short cool section, but dang the Pinnacles section is pretty. If you want to see some stunning rocks with no one else around, and don’t mind a bit of a hike, this is a great trail for you.

I legitimately had a great time on this hike. It was fun to feel like I was the only person in the park and those orange rocks were goorrggeeeous.

The hike itself is honestly pretty easy – it’s mostly level ground with a very slight inclination gain. It’s rated as moderate just because it’s almost 5 miles long.

I wouldn’t say this is the first hike you should do in Valley of Fire (I would do the Fire Wave + Seven Wonders Loop, White Domes, and either the Petroglyph Canyon or Rainbow Vista trails first), but this is an excellent option if you have a little extra time and want to venture deep into the park.

Where Are You Headed After Valley of Fire?

Consider exploring Cathedral Gorge State Park, a serious hidden gem in Nevada, or heading into southern Utah to visit St. George, Snow Canyon State Park, or Bryce Canyon National Park.

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