Caves, Condors, Camping

Hike to Bear Gulch Cave in Pinnacles National Park

Hike Bear Gulch Cave Pinnacles

You’re gonna need a flashlight for this hike, and not because it’s happening at night. Check out a truly dark part of the park by visiting Bear Gulch Cave in Pinnacles National Park. It’s home to a colony of Townsend’s big-eared bats, and the lower part of the cave can be explored with relative ease.

Gallery image 1 of 3
Gallery image 2 of 3
Gallery image 3 of 3

From the Bear Gulch Nature Center, start on the Moses Spring Trail and within a mile reach the caves. The first section is a deep, narrow gorge suitable for most explorers.

True spelunkers can continue into the upper half of the cave (sometimes closed due to bat activity), where crouching and negotiating tight squeezes is part of the fun.

Hike Bear Gulch Cave Pinnacles

Or just skip that section by taking the marked lead-out path. Either way, you’ll pop out at Bear Gulch Reservoir.

Turn around and return the way you came (through the cave again) for a short 2-mile adventure, or do a 5.5-mile tour and keep going to the iconic High Peaks—massive golden-orange rock monoliths rising from the foothills, and home to the endangered California condor.

Hike Bear Gulch Cave Pinnacles

Scout Peak is one of their most popular hangouts, and the bench near the top of the climb is a great place for spotting one.

Gallery image 1 of 3
Gallery image 2 of 3
Gallery image 3 of 3

Continue through the heart of Pinnacles to the exciting “steep and narrow” section. Hold on to the handrails! The next few minutes are spent climbing up and down steps carved into the rocks, with rewarding views of the park. Descend via Condor Gulch Trail.

CAMP: The eastern side of Pinnacles National Park offers some of the best access to the highlights. The only option for accommodation in this neck of the woods is Pinnacles Campground, nestled in the foothills. Campsites are basic and do the trick. Rangers sometimes lead weekend night programs at the amphitheater.

Trending Stories SoCal

View all Stories
  1. Image that represents the story

    Pinnacles of Spring

    Why hike at Pinnacles National Park? The wildflowers are in overdrive during spring. And you might spy the magnificent California condor soaring while you gain soaring views from the High Peaks Trail.

    View
  2. Image that represents the story

    Do it Yourself Walking Tour of Solvang

    Solvang has long been described as a “little slice of Denmark in Southern California." Experience the historic village on a 3-mile walk that explores the architecture, food, wine, and green space.

    View
  3. Image that represents the story

    Truly Grand Day Hike

    One of the best spring day hikes in the Grand Canyon? See layer upon layer of the park’s grandeur—including the river—on this 3-mile (one-way) journey to Skeleton Point via the South Kaibab Trail.

    View
  4. Image that represents the story

    Garden of the Gods

    A 1-mile out-and-back trail in 23-acre Garden of the Gods threads through sandstone boulders that were natural icons of Hollywood’s Golden Age, back when this site was known as the Iverson Movie Ranch.

    View

Trending Stories Northern CA

View all Stories
  1. Image that represents the story
    Sponsored

    Wildflower Hiking Guide

    California’s wildflowers will be lovely this spring! So how do you find the best in bloom? Check out POST’s complimentary Wildflower Guide to find the best hiking trails with wildflowers.

    View
  2. Image that represents the story

    Moore Wildflowers!

    Napa's got poppies on parade! Hike the 4.3-mile Valentine Vista Trail at Moore Creek Park. It's spectacular for views, and the spring wildflowers are a colorful bonus!

    View
  3. Image that represents the story

    Tam It All

    The hills have gone green just in time for St. Patrick’s Day, and this 7.5-mile lollipop loop hike passes through some of Mount Tam’s lushest spots, with bridges, creeks, a waterfall, and big views.

    View
  4. Image that represents the story

    Footloose in the Foothills

    In spring, Diablo Foothills Regional Park bursts with green rolling hills, wildflowers, and some of the lushest views of Mount Diablo itself. Go on an 8-mile loop among this verdant scenery.

    View