Point Lobos Hikes

In the more than 750 acres of Point Lobos State Reserve, there are 14 trails covering 6 miles. This is another world, and it seems that each step brings a hiker to yet another visual wonder.

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…And the hikes inland into meadows and forests are more subtle and 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. No fee to bicycle or to walk in. And cars cannot enter after 110 of them come in. That can happen early when the weather is nice.

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

The Sea Lion Point Trail is a certified wheelchair accessible trail. It starts at the Cypress Grove parking lot.

“When I first became a docent in 1981, I’d see people in wheelchairs come to the park, and I wanted to tell them, ‘This is the most beautiful place on Earth, but you won’t be able to see it,” docent Reid Woodward said at the dedication of the trail. “Now I won’t have to wince when I see a wheelchair user in the park.”

According to a recent story in the Carmel Pine Cone, State Park District Director Lynn Rhodes credited Woodward with the idea for the trail. In 1997, Senior Resource Ecologist Tom Moss started turning Woodward’s idea into reality.

Popular Trails

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 – what the Spanish named the sea lions). Wondrous sights of offshore rock islands, ancient trees, nesting sea birds. Very gratifying one-and-a-half mile hike.

At the Cypress Grove 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.

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

Photo by Jenni Grant

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.

The South Shore Trail crosses a rocky area to a bluff where you can see Bird Island. Passes two idyllic sandy beaches accessed by wood stairs.

Bring binoculars. Watching the life on Bird Island can be enthralling.


How to get to Point Lobos by driving a car

Where to stay, Big Sur Lodge

Also, you can walk from the Carmel River, or, take bus number 22 from Monterey and Carmel. This bus runs twice a day (final destination is Nepenthe), Memorial Day to Labor Day. Cost is $3 each way.

Back to Point Lobos, or, Central Coastal California