Caves and Friends Among the Pinnacles

May 2018 Hiking


The tale

I was invited to join coworkers to visit this park, which I’d never seen, about a week before we left. The more I read, the more I realized this wasn’t just another walkabout. So my preparation included buying a few items I’d been pondering, like a new Daylite Plus Daypack, two-liter reservoir, and a buff.

Half of us had a belated start in San Jose due to some missing keys, but we met up at the visitor’s center as the overcast skies cleared. I was surprised that the park wasn’t more crowded.

Starting at the park’s east entrance, six of us hiked along the flat Balconies Cave Loop trail, ending up at the Charparral Picnic Area. Along the way we scrambled through the eponymous cave, which took about 10 minutes to scramble through. Water flowed through parts of the pitch-black cave, but never close enough to cause a problem. I was glad for fresh batteries in my headlamp.

West of the caves was more scenic. The north trail was mostly level, except when we went around the caves coming back. Switchbacks took us high for some great views of the granite outcrops.

It was a long, dusty day — but a successful outing with my coworkers. Any my new gear? So far, so great.


Pinnacles NP trail
Pinnacles NP trail.
Balconies Cave at Pinnacles NP
Balconies Cave at Pinnacles NP.
Hiker among bounders at Pinnacles National Park.
Hiker among bounders at Pinnacles National Park.
Lizard at Pinnacles National Park.
Lizard at Pinnacles National Park.
TCS hiking crew at Pinnacles NP
TCS hiking crew.

For next time

  • Traffic coming back to San Jose was bad, even on a Sunday. Allow extra time to get home around dinnertime. (Hint: Gilroy has a few places to eat and recover, especially if you’re in to garlic.)
  • Looks like the west side of the park is more rugged and scenic. Try that on the next venture.
  • Normally I bring sandals for the trip home to give my feet a break from boots. This time they especially appreciated the respite.