Hike the High Peaks & Balconies Cave Loop

Paicines, California

5.0/5
based on 2 reviews

Details

Distance

8.4 miles

Elevation Gain

1540 ft

Route Type

Loop

Description

Added by laurie sleep

Hike past towering rock formations and caves while taking in sweeping views of Pinnacles National Park.

This hike can begin at Old Pinnacles Trailhead (East Entrance) or Chaparral Trailhead (West Entrance) and can be hiked in either direction. This description is from Old Pinnacles Trailhead, hiking clockwise, which gets the most demanding part of the hike done first.

From Old Pinnacles Trailhead walk 0.2 miles to get on the High Peaks Trail, which quickly starts switchbacking up to the High Peaks area with its spiky rock formations and sweeping views of the valleys below. Be on the lookout for condors and other raptors. This is the most challenging part of the hike and where you get all of your elevation gain.

Continue onto the Tunnel Trail and then to the Juniper Canyon Trail, which takes you downhill to the Chaparral Picnic Area. This is a great place to take a break and eat lunch, as there are picnic tables, restrooms, and water. From the picnic area, take the Balconies Trail 0.6 miles to Balconies Cave. The trail goes through the cave, which is narrow and low in some places, and requires a flashlight. After exiting the cave, the rest of the hike is an easy 1.5 miles along a creek back to the trailhead.

Other notes: The trails are well maintained with clear signage. There is limited parking at the trailhead. If the lot is full, you can take a free shuttle from the Visitor Center. There is a campground on the east side of the park, only 2 miles from the trailhead.

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Features

Hiking
Scenic
Wildflowers
Wildlife

Reviews

Great hike in pinnacles. It's an underrated nation park. Lots of cool rock formation and condors to see

The condors are huge! The rock formations along the trail are pretty neat, but the highlight for me was going through the cave. The top can be low in some places so you have to watch your head and wear a headlamp or be close to someone who has one.

Leave No Trace

Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures and follow local regulations. Please explore responsibly!

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