Balconies Caves Trail

Pinnacles National Park, California 93928

Distance1.1mi
Elevation Gain640ft
Trailhead Elevation1,399ft
Top1,399ft
Elevation Min/Max1204/1399ft
Elevation Start/End1399/1399ft

Balconies Caves Trail

Balconies Caves Trail is a hiking trail in San Benito County, California. It is within Pinnacles National Park and Hain Wilderness. It is 1.1 miles long and begins at 1,399 feet altitude. Traveling the entire trail is 2.2 miles with a total elevation gain of 640 feet. The Chaparral Picnic Area camp site is near the trailhead. There are also drinking water, a picnic site, parking, and restrooms. The Balconies Caves and Balconies Caves entrances can be seen along the trail. Near the end of the trail is an information guidepost. This trail connects with the following: Balconies Cliffs Trail, North Wilderness Trail, Juniper Canyon Trail and Old Pinnacles Trail.

Balconies Caves Trail Professional Reviews and Guides

"Balconies Cave can be accessed from either the west or the east sides of Pinnacles National Monument. This hike accesses the cave from the east entrance via the Old Pinnacles Trail, which is the easiest route between the east and west sections of the park. The scenic route follows the West Fork of Chalone Creek up the canyon on a gentle grade. En route, the footpath crosses several bridges over the drainage while traveling through an open forest of gray pines, live oaks, willows, buckeye, and streamside veg- etation. The trail ends at Balconies Cave. Balconies Cave is not a typical subterranean cave. It is actu- ally a talus cave. The tunnel-like cavern was formed when mas- sive rocks fell into a narrow, stream-cut canyon. The boulders, loosened by erosion and earthquakes, formed a ceiling over the canyon. The passageway can be walked from one end to the other. Weaving through the cave includes climbing, ducking, squeezing, and scrambling in a dark and narrow passage with low ceilings. (A flashlight is required as you work your way through the pitch-black cave.) After climbing through the cave, the trail makes a return loop on the Balconies Cliffs Trail, clambering up and over the cave below while traversing the mountainside."

"If you could do only one hike in Pinnacles National Park, this would be the one—as long as you are not anxious about small dark spaces and do not have issues with high places. This hike offers a close-up view of Pinnacles National Park from the bottom to the top.

The trail begins in exposed chaparral before entering a cool canyon and portal to the boulder-tumble tunnel passage known as Balconies Cave. You will need a flashlight in the talus “cave.” You emerge at the junction for the climb up the lofty panoramic trail at the base of the Balconies Cliffs, where raptors roost, before dropping back down to the canyon floor."

"This less-than-2-mile route is an easy introductory hike to the chaparral- and rock-dominated Pinnacles realm. The trail is mostly flat, crossing a few seasonal creeks in the open before entering a shadier canyon to the base of Machete Ridge and a climber access trail junction.

This hike is a good option for families with young children who cannot get a morning start for longer hikes in the spring, summer, and early fall when temperatures can rise quickly from warm to hot by midday."

"This less-than-2-mile route is an easy introductory hike to the chaparral- and rockdominated Pinnacles realm. The trail is mostly flat, crossing a few seasonal creeks in the open before entering a shadier canyon to the base of Machete Ridge and a climber access trail junction. This hike is a good option for families with young children who cannot get a morning start for longer hikes in the spring, summer, and early fall when temperatures can rise quickly from warm to hot by midday."

"This mostly flat trail follows a shady canyon through a narrow, formidable tumble of gargantuan boulder tunnels forming the Balconies Cave on the way to the West Fork Chalone Creek floodplain and Old Pinnacles trailhead. The 0.1-mile talus “cave” section requires a flashlight and is very challenging with some crawl spaces and handover- hand climbs. This spectacular “cave” route to the Old Pinnacles trailhead from the west to the east side of the park is not recommended for anyone with claustrophobia issues or for corpulent individuals."

"If you could do only one hike in Pinnacles National Park, this would be the one—as long as you are not anxious about small dark spaces and do not have issues with high places. This hike offers a close-up view of Pinnacles National Park from the bottom to the top. The trail begins in exposed chaparral before entering a cool canyon and portal to the boulder-tumble tunnel passage known as Balconies Cave. You will need a flashlight in the talus “cave.” You emerge at the junction for the climb up the lofty panoramic trail at the base of the Balconies Cliffs, where raptors roost, before dropping back down to the canyon floor."

"Balconies Cave is not a typical subterranean cavern but rather a talus cave created from a rock-roofed passage. The tunnel-like cavern was formed from a jumble of huge boulders that toppled into the narrow stream-fed canyon, creating a cave-like ceiling with a dark passage below. The passageway can be walked from one end to the other. Balconies Cave can be accessed from either the west or east ends of Pinnacles National Monument. This hike follows the Balconies Trail from the end of the west entrance road, paral- leling the seasonal West Fork of Chalone Creek to the mouth of the cave. Weaving through the maze-like cave includes climbing, ducking, squeezing, and scrambling in a dark and narrow pas- sage with low ceilings. (A flashlight is required as you work your"

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Trail Information

Pinnacles National Park
Nearby City
Pinnacles National Park
Parks
Pinnacles National Monument
Local Contacts
USGS North Chalone Peak; Pinnacles National Park map; Tom Harrison map of Pinnacles National Park
Local Maps

Activity Feed

Jul 2018