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Balconies Cave Loop

  4.5 ( 13 ) Favorite


2.6 mile 4.3 kilometer loop


Ascent: 400' 122 m
Descent: -399' -122 m
High: 1,462' 446 m
Low: 1,199' 365 m


Avg Grade: 6% (3°)
Max Grade: 30% (17°)


No Dogs
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Trail shared by Kristen Arendt

A short, scenic hike to explore Balconies Cave.

Kristen Arendt

Features Birding · Cave · Views · Wildlife

Family Friendly A short hike with climbing, scrambling, and a dark cave.


This hike is a great opportunity to explore one of the natural talus caves of Pinnacles National Park. Be sure to bring a flashlight which is required if you want to explore the cave!

Need to Know

The caves can be closed suddenly due to storms and high water. Please check before your visit to get the most current cave status. A flashlight is required to enter the cave. Also, check for raptor closures before attempting any off-trail activities.


Parking for this hike is located at the Chaparral Picnic Area parking lot. From here, start out on the Balconies Trail. This is an easy, flat trail leading to the Balconies area of the park. The trail is at first open and airy, offering views of two of Pinnacles most imposing rock formations, Machete Ridge to the east and the Balconies to the west.

At the third small bridge crossing, however, the trail enters the Balconies area and gets close to the rock formations. The trail passes formations called the Shepherd, Hummingbird Spire, the Gameshow, and the obviously looming large, Machete Ridge. The trail ends at a junction with the Balconies Cliffs Trails and the Balconies Cave Trail after a small bridge crossing.

Take a right onto the Balconies Cave Trail. The trail begins by climbing over a large rock formation next to Machete Ridge, which sits to the east, and beneath another rock formation called Chockstone Dome. Continue through a metal gate and pass beneath a series of smaller chockstones inside of a gravel-filled cleft.

From here, continue climbing and scrambling through the cave, using your flashlight or headlamp to reveal the path. Eventually, the cave opens up near another metal gate. Pass through the metal gate and follow the small stream by scrambling over some more rocks until the trail opens up a bit before coming to a junction with Old Pinnacles Trail and the Balconies Cliffs Trails.

Take a left onto Balconies Cliffs Trails. For much of this trail, the Balconies' water streaked face looms over the trail. Other rock formations along this route include Osiris, Smiling Simian, and Toogs. Eventually, the trail will connect back to the Balconies Trail which you'll follow back to the parking lot to finish out the hike.

Flora & Fauna

Keep an eye open for California condors, prairie falcons, golden eagles, and other birds.

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Jul 16, 2019
Claudette Perez
Julio's and I 1st park — 11h 06m
Jun 1, 2019
John DuVall
Dec 30, 2018
David Conlon
Dec 26, 2018
Lisa Incata
Nov 12, 2018
John Yeh
Nov 11, 2018
Amy Lawrence
Sep 11, 2018
Scott Campbell
Part of a hike from old pinnacles trailhead. A fantastic cave experience. 2.6mi
Jun 15, 2018
Joshua Lanam
Short hike with temps ranging from mid 60s at the park visitor’s center to the 90s on the loop. Park at Charrapal Picnic Area. Bring a flashlight. 2.6mi

Trail Ratings

  4.5 from 13 votes


  4.5 from 13 votes
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in California


107 Views Last Month
3,926 Since Feb 1, 2016



Pinnacles National Park on the Balconies trail.
Feb 2, 2016 near Soledad, CA
You can best see the impressive rock formations from Balconies Cliffs Trail
Aug 6, 2017 near Soledad, CA
Looking towards Machete Ridge from the Balconies Trail.
Feb 27, 2016 near Soledad, CA
The Balconies Trail is stunning.
May 26, 2015 near Soledad, CA
Some rocks along Balconies Trail.
May 26, 2015 near Soledad, CA
Tight spaces through the Balconies Cave - flashlight required! We hiked the Balconies Cave Loop trail on September 11, 2017. Very nice!
Aug 27, 2019 near Soledad, CA


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