There are many hiking options available at Pinnacles, including the High Peaks and Balconies trail, the much shorter Bear Gulch trail, and The Old Pinnacles trail which leads to the Balconies. We took the Old Pinnacles route which is close to the Campground.
We stayed one night in Pinnacles Campground, you can read my review here, and took a sunset hike.
Getting there: To access the eastern side, from I-5 take an exit for Coalinga. Gas up here. Take 198 west to 25 and head north to 146. OR for the western side, take 101 to 146.
Be advised: Some maps show that 146 connects 25 and 101, but this is NOT the case. It takes a couple hours to drive from one side of 146, all the way around to the other. There is trail access on both sides, but if you want to camp, you need to end up on the eastern side. The western access is called Chapparal.
The Old Pinnacles trail was beautiful, but be aware of Poison Oak! I spotted plenty of it and wondered if this was why it’s called the “Old” route. There is an interesting mix of trees and scrub here, but the real draw is for the rock formations. There is no better place to view the formations than from the Balconies. The Old Pinnacles trail will get you there but it’s not the only way. We made a 9 mile roundtrip, but there are shorter or longer routes depending on your skill level.