Balconies Trail is a 8.7 mile moderately trafficked loop trail located near Paicines, CA that features a cave and is rated as moderate. The trail is primarily used for hiking and is accessible year-round.
Directions from Soledad: Follow Highway 146 12 miles to the Chaparral Ranger Station. The trail begins from the northern end of the parking area.
Great hike with the kids. They had so much fun climbing through the caves with their flashlights and seeing the boulders strewn throughout the canyon. They also enjoyed the climbing under the wedged boulders. Good fun. Not too difficult (I.e. Not too much elevation gain) that it proved too tough for the kids (8,8, and 11). Beautiful views of geology. A cool wind rustled the leaves of the trees -- I haven't heard this sound since having led the east coast and it took me right back. Beautiful golden hues at this time of year. The caves do require you to get pretty low and also can be quite narrow in spots.
Hard! But fun.
Very nice hike in California's Pinnacles National Park. The cave was a little hard to find, but I wasn't sure what I was looking for. Also, take a head lamp or a good light. It will be more enjoyable.
Took the Balconies Cliffs to Old Pinnacles as part of a 10 Mile loop around the park. The Cave was closed, but there are great views from the cliff side of both Balconies and Machete ridge and others. For climbers there were lots of access trails for getting up on the rocks.
Great side-trip 2-hour hike as a stop off Hwy 101 heading up to San Francisco. But you absolutely need a flashlight to pass through the cave.
Hiked it counter clockwise and found it easier climbing up the cave! Kids loved it! Get the 50 cent guidebook at the ranger station and follow the signs. It explained everything. Great views from the balconies and tons of rocks to explore. New welcome center is fantastic!!
The caves are a must see! One of my favorite hikes.
This is a really fun hike. The trail is a loop. It starts with an easy one-half mile walk from the Chapparral Ranger Station. At that point the trail splits...one side is called Balconies Cave Trail and the other side of the loop is called Balconies Cliff Trail. We chose to take the Cave Trail first. You will need a flashlight to go through the Cave Trail as it does have a steep and slippery underground portion, but that was part of the fun. It requires dexterity to both descend and ascend, as there are many protruding rocks, as well as twists and turns. The trail drops about 240 feet during the underground portion. I wouldn't attempt to take small children on this part of the trail. Once out of the cave, there is a small stagnant pool of water (watch out for mosquitos)that seems to be fed from a small stream or spring (we couldn't determine the source). After crossing over the small stream the trail begins to ascend between two large rock formations. Shortly afterward the trail meets up with the end of The Old Pinnacles Trail (coming in from the east entrance to the park)which splits off to the right. Turning left will take you on to the Cliff Trail which immediately begins to ascend, winding through the cliffs with some really nice views of the rock formations. The highest point on the trail is about 450 feet, making the overall ascent about 320 feet.