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Hain Wilderness

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A small bowl with low brush and a handful of tall evergreen trees, surrounded by high rock pinnacles.
Library image #813: View of rock formations and gray pines in the Pinnacles Wilderness.


The United States Congress designated the Hain Wilderness (map) in 1976 and it now has a total of 15,985 acres. All of this wilderness is located in California and is managed by the National Park Service.


Eons of wind and water, heat and frost produced the starkly angular crags and spires of today's Hain Wilderness. Situated within Pinnacles National Park, Hain Wilderness, previously called the Pinnacles Wilderness, was renamed in January, 2013 in honor of Schuyler Hain. Hain was a homesteader who led tours to Bear Valley and through the caves, advocating for preservation of the region. Hain's efforts moved Theodore Roosevelt to establish Pinnacles National Monument in 1908, which formally became a national park the same year the Wilderness was renamed.

About 23 million years ago, molten lava poured through the rift where the Pacific and North American tectonic plates collide, giving birth to a vast volcanic field. Then the Pacific Plate began creeping along the San Andreas Fault, carrying the Pinnacles to its current location 195 miles to the north. Along the way, forces of uplift and erosion shaped the rocks into the spectacular forms we see today.

Although Pinnacles was originally set aside to protect the unique rocks and caves, it is now also celebrated for its healthy native ecosystems. Vast expanses of chaparral, pocketed with woodlands and outcroppings of rocks and scree, support an impressive diversity of native plants and animals. Among these species are greasewood, manzanita, gray pine, canyon live oak and blue oak. Cooler areas have higher proportions of pines and oaks, together with California buckeye, hollyleaf cherry and coffeeberry. Willows and elderberries are found along the intermittent streams. More than 500 native flowering plant species share the landscape with 400 species of bees, beneath the gaze of soaring falcons and California condors.

The climate in Hain Wilderness includes hot, dry summers and cool winters with moderate rainfall. Temperature can swing from 50 degrees at night to 100 degrees during the day. Average rainfall is 16 inches per year, falling mostly from January to March. Snow occurs in small amounts at higher elevation most years from mid-December to January. Winter temperatures often drop below freezing.

Planning to Visit the Hain Wilderness?

Leave No Trace

How to follow the seven standard Leave No Trace principles differs in different parts of the country (desert vs. Rocky Mountains). Click on any of the principles listed below to learn more about how they apply in the Hain Wilderness.
  1. Plan Ahead and Prepare
  2. Travel and Camp on Durable Surfaces
  3. Dispose of Waste Properly
  4. Leave What You Find
  5. Minimize Campfire Impacts
  6. Respect Wildlife
  7. Be Considerate of Other Visitors
For more information on Leave No Trace, Visit the Leave No Trace, Inc. website.

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