» Official Trail Map: Nice map showing all hiking trails.
» Old trailmap preserved by U Texas Library: Good map, very similar to the official trail map. This one shows creeks more prominently.
This hike starts right at the Pinnacles Visitor Center at the eastern entrance. In peak season, the small sized parking lot close to Bear Gulch Day Use Area becomes full. However, the parking lot next to the Visitor Center at the eastern entrance is quite large. The park provides shuttle service between these two points. If you do not wish to wait for the shuttle, it is possible to start the hike right at the Pinnacles Visitor Center.
Route in brief: From Pinnacles Visitor Center, follow Bench Trail (1.3 miles) → left on Bear Gulch Trail (1.0 miles) to reach Bear Gulch Day Use Area. Follow Bear Gulch Trail (0.5 miles) → Moses Spring Trail (0.7 miles) to reach Bear Gulch Reservoir. When Bear Gulch Cave is open, one may go through the cave via Bear Gulch Cave Trail instead of Moses Spring Trail. Return by following Rim Trail (0.7 miles) → left on Bear Gulch Trail (0.5 miles) to reach Bear Gulch Day Use Area. Then follow Bear Gulch Trail (1.0 miles) → right on Bench Trail (1.3 miles).
Hiking through Caves: At Pinnacles, there are two 'cave trails' (Balconies Cave Trail and Bear Gulch Cave Trail) that require flashlight. This hike goes through only one of these saves: Bear Gulch Cave. The caves are open only in select months, so check Cave Status. Caves are closed for the protection of Townsend's big ear bats that reside in them. Caves are open for a limited period: twice an year for at least one week and up to four weeks each March and October, depending on the presence of the colony of bats.
I visited both caves in March 2010 — there was about 5 to 12 inches of water in some section of Bear Gulch Cave. I was able to hop on stones most of the time but there were some portions where my feet got wet. Rubber slippers would be handy. The park website warns that sometimes there is knee-deep water inside the caves. So be prepared.
Best time to visit: Most of the trails are in the open. So avoid summers — it's quite hot. Also check out Cave Status.