Point Lobos State Reserve
2 miles South of Rio Road
$8 Park entrance fee per car
Free to Guests of Big Sur Lodge 

Point Lobos is the product of complex geology. Blocks of earth from three miles deep, and parts of the Sierra Nevada mountains and some Pacific islands off southern Mexico collided here. The sparkling granite cliffs that came from deep beneath the sea, emerged as molten lava and cooled very slowly. Here the unique geology cleanses the sea. A great progression of change is evident in the meadows and coves throughout Point Lobos.

This is another world, and it seems that each step brings a hiker to yet another visual wonder.

In the more than 750 acres of Point Lobos State Reserve, there are 14 trails covering 6 miles.

The hikes along the coast are stunningly beautiful...along ledges through ancient cypress overlooking storybook coves...

unto headlands lavished in rare flora and staged with great birds.

The hikes inland into meadows and forests are more subtle and yet filled with intense nature.

An excellent trail map and description is available at the Ranger Station at the entrance to the Reserve. There's a fee for vehicles - but no fee to bicycle or to walk in.

Cars cannot enter if 110 are already in the reserve, but more will be let in as those earlier cars leave. That situation can often happen early when the weather is nice.

Point Lobos State Reserve opens at 9:00 am and closes at sunset. Bring binoculars and a camera. Whatever number of rolls of film or digital memory cards that you plan to bring, you should at least double that number, as there are far more photography opportunities than you can imagine.


North Shore Trail
Along the Carmel Bay, starting at Whaler's Cove, this trail quickly ascends to great views of isolated beaches filled with steller seals (Lobos marinos - the name given to the sea lions by the Spanish). On this very gratifying 1.5-mile hike, you'll see tantalizing sights of offshore rock islands, ancient trees, nesting sea birds. Note: Be sure to visit the Whaling Museum at Whaler's Cove - it includes a lot of movie memorabilia from films made here.

Sea Lion Point Trail
A half-mile trail to incredible ocean views and a good look at the reserve's plant communities and geology. Wheelchair accessible.


South Shore Trail - 3 mile easy loop trail
crosses a rocky area to a bluff where you can see Bird Island. It passes two idyllic, sandy beaches accessed by wooden stairs.
Bird Island Trail
A 3.5-mile loop trail to sea otters and birds. It includes a loop trail down to Gibson Beach and back.

Cypress Grove Trail
1 mile easy loop trail
On this trail, you can hike to the Allan Memorial Grove. This magnificent grove of Monterey Cypress -- one of only two natural groves remaining in the world -- is a tribute to the Allan family which worked diligently to buy lots of the proposed subdivision so the grove could be saved.