Trail of the Gargoyles

This easy, moderately level hiking trail leads to oddly shaped volcanic rocks that are said to resemble ‘gargoyles.’ The bands of rocks around the rim of the canyon that contain the gargoyle-like formations were originally formed by several volcanic events, including lava flows, lahars (volcanic mud flows), and ash deposits. The route also offers spectacular mountain views, and an abundance of wildflowers in early to mid-summer.  Wildflower species that may be seen include mule’s ears, paintbrush, penny royal, lupines, Marisa lilies, phlox, and many more. A brochure describing the natural features in more detail at numbered posts along the trail may be picked up at the trailhead or at the Summit Ranger Station along Highway 108 near Pinecrest.

Directions:  Take Highway 108 east of Pinecrest for about 3 miles to Herring Creek Road.  Turn right and drive about 6 miles.  Turn left at the Gargoyles sign to park and reach the trailhead.

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Latitude: 38.2492 Longitude: -119.943182 Elevation: 7436 ft
the best travel advice comes from the people who live here
Heather Campbell

Vertical Gain or Loss

100 feet

Trail Distance

1.5 miles (one-way)

ADA Accessibility Notes

Not accessible

Pet Friendly Notes

Dogs are welcome


Beautiful, wild trail of geologic wonders.The rough dirt and rock road for over a mile was worth it , but I recommend a Jeep for more fun and less stress. There is no parking fee and few people which is great. I thought that it was dangerous for dogs and small children though because the trail follows a potentially slippery ridge crest. At one point on the South trail there was a hole in the lava called "devil’s slide ", but there is no danger sign and it is a dead-fall drop-off! Be vigilant, and respect nature, take many photos and share nature's beauty .

Beth Sands, 10/26/2014

Been going to this breath taking place for years. Don't let the dirt road scare you, we've done it in cars, and an SUV with no peril to either. Do watch your children, and wildlife abounds including bears and large cats, so use your back country knowledge. Make sure to stop at the Trail of Ancient Dwarfs while in the area.

Tristan Norris, 10/14/2016

We are going this weekend with 2 small children. This is our 1st camping experience. Is this probably not recommended? Thank you.

Melinda H., 7/9/2017

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