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Scouting Old Pinnacles Trl to Balconies Cave : 5.3 Miles (0 feet elevation gain)

This 5.3-mile hike is the Old Pinnacles trail to Balconies Cave loop in Pinnacles National Park. We will do an out and back hike to the opposite side of the caves.

Meeting Place:  The Visitor Center at the East Entrance

Important Note: We will not be going into the Balconies Cave

Using a GPS Device For Navigation

When entering the park address or name in a GPS device, motorists can be routed to a side of the park which they did not intent to visit. When using GPS, verify your route using a map or the driving directions listed below.

For devices which coordinates may be manually entered, use the above coordinates to aid in your navigation to the intended side of the park.

Directions from the North:

From the San Francisco Bay Area to the East Entrance:

Take Hwy 101 south through the city of Gilroy to Hwy 25 south. On Hwy 25, go through the town of Hollister and continue about 30 miles to Hwy 146. Turn right on Hwy 146, then turn left into the Pinnacles Campground to check in at Pinnacles Visitor Center. From the campground, the Bear Gulch Area is 3.5 miles further into the park along Hwy 146.

Distance: 5.3 miles round trip 

Duration: 3  hours

Difficulty (without caves): Easy

 


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  • Sheshagirisha D.

    Hi all, I am eagerly waiting for someone to take me from my place of stay ie 1235, wildwood Av #194. I am interested to come for after noon hiking ie after 1PM. You can mail me at what time I should be ready. For me 7 eleven shop near wildwood Av will be convenient to wait for you. If any one want to take me from there, can send email. I love hiking after 1PM.

    March 17, 2014

  • A former member
    A former member

    Thanks Steve! I know I messed up when the ranger told me that a group had embarked on the shuttle. I got worried that I'd missed the group and got on the next one, in the back of my mind thinking I should hang out at the visitors center first. The thing that confused me was that I thought I saw a reference to Bear Gulch on the initial map/directions. So, NEXT time I WILL follow directions and be where I'm supposed to be! And a little sign that says, "MEETUP" would have been great!

    March 17, 2014

  • Steve

    Marti and Lisa, It's unfortunate we missed you a the visitor center. I went around to each of the groups of people I saw standing around and asked if they were with our meetup group. After I found people attending the hike, we waited as a group on the porch of the visitor center. The ranger came by at 1:20 to escort us to the trailhead to help us with parking. The bus to Bear Gulch took you in the opposite direction of the Old Pinnacles trail. I think your suggestions to have a marker for the group of some kind are good - I've thought about ideas like that myself.

    March 17, 2014

  • A former member
    A former member

    Hi, just saw Christy's comment... and that there were only a group of 5. I thought there were about 30 YES responses. My mistake I guess. I was looking for a large group!! I agree with Lisa Paul, that there could be some kind of identifying thing for those of us who don't know anyone. Maybe a flag or something that the leader wears?

    March 16, 2014

  • A former member
    A former member

    I got there about 12:30 and went in to pay the fee. Going back to my car I saw a big group of hikers and wondered if it was my group, but had to put the ticket on my car. Got back and the nice ranger asked how many in my group to get on the shuttle. I said I was looking for a group, he said oh they just all got on. I took the next shuttle to Bear Gulch and waited. No one. So I took the shuttle back to the visitors center and found no other group. Disappointed. My first MeetUp. I ended up hiking by myself which was okay but was really looking forward to meeting some new friends. Plus, since I'm new to MeetUp, I couldn't figure out how to reply to the conversation about carpooling, every time I wrote something, I couldn't see where to press Send. Anyway, I'll keep trying...

    March 16, 2014

  • Christy

    Had a great day!

    March 16, 2014

  • lisa p.

    Well, this was a big fail for me. I showed up at the Visitor's Center at 1PM and only saw one clump of people. So asked one of them if this was the Meetup group. He said yes, so I got on the bus with the group. Which ended up being just a collection of people waiting for that shuttle bus. When I double checked with the guy I'd asked he said, "Oh I just thought you meant is this the bus stop." So I ended up being shuttled somewhere else and just going on my own hike. For the future, and for the newbies who don't recognize anyone, can we all wear a carnation in our lapels or have some way to find this group?

    March 16, 2014

    • Christy

      That's a bummer. We waited at the visitor center till 1:20. We ended up being a group of 5. Hopefully you enjoyed the day anyway!

      March 16, 2014

  • A former member
    A former member

    when i saw palo alto I thought it was close but checked and it is a 2 hr drive didn't realize so i did not factor in driving time. hopefully next time. have fun

    March 16, 2014

  • Anton

    Looking forward

    March 16, 2014

  • Steve

    National Weather Service forecast for the Pinnacles area: 86F and sunny. See you at the visitor center.

    1 · March 16, 2014

  • A former member
    A former member

    I am new to the state & will be coming from San Jose/Campbell area. I am interested in carpooling with anyone interested. I don't mind driving my jeep just would be nice to have someone local along for the ride if anyone is interested!!

    March 4, 2014

    • A former member
      A former member

      Janetta, I honestly don't know. If it appears that there might be we do have time in the morning to move it. My apartment complex is 3 miles away from there & we can always move it there & have you park in my carport.

      March 15, 2014

    • Susanne M.

      see you at 9:00! Thanks. I am in a white van. I will find your jeep in the lot at leBoulangers!

      1 · March 15, 2014

  • Beth

    Have a fantastic hike...Pinnacles is so beautiful. Bring lots of water.

    March 15, 2014

  • A former member
    A former member

    Unfortunately don't think i will be able to make it :-( Work...

    March 15, 2014

  • A former member
    A former member

    So sorry to miss it!

    March 15, 2014

  • Theresa

    Anyone driving from Mountain View that I can carpool with? I can kick in some cash for gas.

    February 25, 2014

    • Theresa

      yes!

      February 25, 2014

    • Pamela A.

      sorry, I have had to change my RSVP to NO for this sunday.

      March 14, 2014

  • A former member
    A former member

    Oh and just an fyi, it's hard to get parking in the afternoon. Especially at old pinn. U guys may have to carpool from the vc and drop people off. Hope not but just wanted to help. Happy trails

    1 · March 13, 2014

  • Steve

    Natasha, I'm wondering why, as an event organizer and a park ranger at Pinnacles, you aren't leading this hike?

    March 13, 2014

    • A former member
      A former member

      Natasha, meet us at the VC so we can say hello to you before we head out on our hike! Thanks for your contribution to the National Park Service and hike guidance herein, much appreciated!

      1 · March 13, 2014

    • A former member
      A former member

      I will try and stop by svaha! Dean it would be great to meet you

      March 13, 2014

  • Marty

    I would like to carpool if anyone has room for one more. I can meet anywhere in the south bay or San Jose area. My normal way there is 880 to 101 to 25, so points along the way are good for meeting that are not too far out of the way.
    [masked]

    March 13, 2014

  • Steve

    Hi Everyone,

    If, for some reason, you didn’t receive my email today, I’m posting this capsulized version of it:
    I’m re-designating the Pinnacles hike as a scouting hike. We’ll be taking the bypass around the cave, not going through it, as it requires rock scrambling in darkness. I haven’t hiked it and don’t want to risk people being injured. If you think you must go through the cave, then please hike on a different day than our scheduled group hike. In the interest of everyone’s safety, I have to insist on this requirement. We will meet on the east side of the park at the Pinnacles Visitor Center and shuttle ourselves to the Old Pinnacles Trailhead parking. We’ll start the hike from the Old Pinnacles trailhead there. There is no cell phone service there, so we won’t be able to communicate by phone or email.

    Weather predicted: Sunny, high temp 89 F (bring plenty of water, wear a hat)
    See you all at Pinnacles NP at 1 pm on the 16th! Steve (Hike leader)

    March 11, 2014

    • Steve

      I think Kal was referring you to that map to show info on the Balconies Cave loop. We will hike the Old Pinnacles Trail to the Balconies Cave, 5.3 miles, listed on this link page http://www.nps.gov/pi...­ Kyra hiked it in about 3-4 hours.

      March 11, 2014

    • A former member
      A former member

      Hey guys I'm a ranger an pinnacles, if you have any questions about this hike or the difficulty level please ask. If you go up the balconies cliff trail to avoid the cave it is beautiful, but does add an elevation change. The cave itself is very simple to traverse if you bring your flashlight and take your time. It is easy to avoid the cave or add it to the trip before or after the cliff trail.

      2 · March 13, 2014

  • Tatsiana P.

    I am leaving from San Francisco and would love to give someone a ride :)

    February 28, 2014

    • Celia

      hi, I like to get a ride. What time do you plan to leave?

      March 11, 2014

    • Susanne M.

      are you still looking for a rider? we can figure out a meeting spot as you travel south. i am in san jose

      March 12, 2014

  • Sheshagirisha D.

    I am from INDIA on vacation to Sunnyvale ca up to 14th April'2014. I have done many hiking trips during my college days. Hence want to have hiking experience.

    March 12, 2014

  • Susanne M.

    does anyone want to carpool from the santa clara/cupertino area?

    March 11, 2014

  • Kal A.

    Here a map of the route:
    http://www.everytrail.com/guide/high-peaks-amp-balconies-cave-pinnacles-nm/map#poi-8
    Zoom in to see the cave bypass between way point 9 and 11. The path on the left.

    March 10, 2014

    • Kal A.

      March 11, 2014

    • Kal A.

      I just could not find a map that starts on the east side.

      March 11, 2014

  • Christy

    Will this be a guided hike?

    March 10, 2014

    • Kal A.

      Steve is the Event Organizer for this hike

      1 · March 10, 2014

  • Celia

    Hi, Although I grow up in SF Bay Area but didn't explore much outside of the city. I will be coming from San Francisco and want to see if anyone want to carpool. I can drive or get a ride. I just don't want to drive all the way alone.

    March 10, 2014

  • Steve

    I'm leaving from the Union City/ Fremont area. Anyone interested in carpooling?

    February 26, 2014

    • A former member
      A former member

      Hi, any room left? I'm in Hayward.

      March 9, 2014

    • A former member
      A former member

      Shiela that would be great--what city are you?

      March 9, 2014

  • A former member
    A former member

    Hi, I am sorry I can't make this new date. I will be out of town. It sounds like an awesome day! =)

    March 6, 2014

  • barbara n.

    i am leaving from redwood city - anyone need a ride?

    1 · February 28, 2014

    • Andrew

      I'm in RWC. I would appreciate a ride if my friend doesn't join. Won't know until the morning of. I will private message you.

      February 28, 2014

    • Andrew

      I might not be able to make the new date. I'll connect later.

      March 2, 2014

  • Gareth

    Zeta, are you planning a replacement hike for Sun 2nd? If not then I (or someone else) can organize one for the people that still want to get their exercise.

    February 28, 2014

  • Sherry X.

    I am leaving from Cupertino/Sunnyvale area. Anyone wants to carpool?

    February 25, 2014

    • Susanne M.

      Hi Sherry,

      February 28, 2014

    • Susanne M.

      Sherry I am in Santa Clara. I would like to carpool

      February 28, 2014

  • Pam

    Is anyone interested in doing the easier route described?
    Have been spelunking in the past but not interedted this time.

    February 27, 2014

  • Andrew

    Anyone leaving from Redwood City area? Or any of the Caltrain stations south of RWC?

    February 26, 2014

  • Auda

    Still recovering from a leg injury. Sorry to miss out. I love the Pinnacles.

    February 24, 2014

  • stephanie a.

    I live in Salinas and would love to carpool with someone(s)
    Are you heading south on 101?
    Where are we meeting?

    February 23, 2014

  • Robert

    Can we bring kids?

    February 23, 2014

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