Pinnacles Bear Gulch Caves, CA

• 5-star hike
• 1.8 mile loop
• Easy difficulty | Gain 466 feet
• Paicines, CA | Pinnacles National Park
• Driving Directions: Shuttlebus parking

Cooling off at Bear Gulch Reservoir.

Pinnacles National Park is a celebration of geology and nature in a way that is very different from other parks around the San Francisco Bay Area, and is not to be missed.

The Rim Trail and Bear Gulch Caves Trail route is a short looping trail that when taken in a counter-clockwise direction climbs gently into the foothills of the Pinnacles landscape offering excellent park views, includes a visit to the shores of the small Bear Gulch Reservoir, before descending into a chasm and talus caves where the trail snakes around voids in an ancient rockfall.

This is a perfect trail for kids and those interested in a short and varied hike. Handrails are present in caves and in stepped areas, but are most safely negotiated with a flashlight inside the caves.

Rim & Bear Gulch Caves Trail, Shuttlebus route.

Rim & Bear Gulch Caves Trail 5★
1.8 mi, Loop, Easy, Gain 466ft
Trailspotting Map at AllTrails

The trailhead for our trail is Bear Gulch Day-Use Area which is accessed from the East park entrance and at most times can be reached only by shuttle bus from the visitors’ center 2.6 miles away. There is no road connection between the East and West park entrances. Pinnacles experiences high attendance, so plan on arriving early to avoid a queue of cars at the park entrance and the subsequent line of people for the shuttle bus. Bring plenty of water and clothing appropriate to hot weather - aside from the caves, there isn’t much shade in the park.

Entry fee to Pinnacles National Park is on the high side but that does cover seven consecutive days of park use. The East entrance also has camping facilities.

Others may prefer to combine this short loop with the spectacular High Peaks & Condor Gulch loop for a 5.5 mile & 1,630 foot hike to the highest spires of the Pinnacles rock formations, as shown on this AllTrails public link. We cover the High Peaks in more detail in our review of a trail from the West park entrance here - Trailspotting: High Peaks and Balconies Cave (8.5 mi & 1,895ft).

Descending into the Bear Gulch Caves Trail.

Admiring the expansive views along the Rim Trail.

• Trail Links: Official, Public Map at AllTrails
• Facebook Group: Comment on this article

Yosemite's Best Hikes
Epic scenery and adventures await. Trailspotting's Best Hikes of Yosemite National Park is a great place to start.

Lake Tahoe's Best Hikes
All-year-round fun at this Northern California landmark. Trailspotting's Best Hikes of Lake Tahoe has hikes for everyone.

San Francisco's Best Hikes
For great Bay Area trails check out Trailspotting's Best Hikes of the San Francisco Bay.
Bluesky Icon   Facebook Icon    Flipboard Icon   Instagram Icon   Mastadon Icon   RSS Feed Icon   Threads Icon
Subscribe for new trail reviews weekly

Trailspotting is non-commercial, ad-free and for the public good.
Content provided without warranty of accuracy. Copyright © 2005-2024 Stuart Green all rights reserved. Reproduction requires explicit consent.
About Trailspotting.