Point Lobos State Natural Reserve

California, United States
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 (13 votes, 13 reviews)
Deriving its name from the offshore rocks at Punta de los Lobos Marinos, Point of the Sea Wolves, where the sound of the sea lions carries inland, the reserve has often been called "the crown jewel of the State Park System." Point Lobos has offered many things to millions of people who have visited it over the years.

Point Lobos State Natural Reserve is outstanding for sightseeing, photography, painting, nature study, picnicking, SCUBA diving, and jogging. In addition to the spectacular beauty, nearly every aspect of its resources is of scientific interest. There are rare plant communities, endangered archeological sites, unique geological formations, and incredibly rich flora and fauna of both land and sea.

Respect the power of the ocean. Help avoid a disaster and keep at a safe distance. Remain on the designated trails within the wire guides, and stay away from the rocky cliffs. Rock climbing is absolutely prohibited.

Point Lobos State Natural Reserve contains headlands, coves and rolling meadows. The offshore area forms one of the richest underwater habitats in the world popular with divers. Wildlife includes seals, sea lions, sea otters and migrating gray whales (from December to May). Thousands of seabirds also make the reserve their home. Hiking trails follow the shoreline and lead to hidden coves. The area used to be the home of a turn-of -the-century whaling and abalone industry. A small cabin built by Chinese fishermen from that era still remains at Whalers Cove and is now a cultural history museum.
Getting There
Located on the central coast of California in Monterey County. The entrance is located three miles south of Carmel on Highway 1.

The Day Use Annual Pass is accepted at this park.
Seasons/Climate/Recommended Clothing
Fair sunny days, occasional winter rains, and dry summers, moderated by fog from July through September, characterize central California's climate.
Operating Hours & Contact
Reserve is open from 8am to 1/2 hour after sunset.

Information Station is open from 9am to 5pm, as staffing permits.

Whalers Cabin Museum is open from 9am to 5pm, as staffing permits.

Telephone: 831-624-4909
Diving Information: 831-624-8413
Guided Walks and Whalers Cabin Museum
A schedule of guided walks for the month is posted at the entrance station. The museums are open as staffing permits, generally from 9am until 5pm. Requests for nature walks, cabin tours, and slide programs led by rangers or docents for schools and private groups require advance written application.

Diving (SCUBA and free)
Diving is permitted only at Whalers and Bluefish Coves. Proof of certification is required. Permission to dive is given when entering the reserve. Reservations are recommended and a must for weekends and holidays.

Half of the reserve is all you see unless you're a diver and visit the underwater world just offshore. This is one of the richest marine habitats in California. Its animals and plants are fully protected by state law from any disturbance.

Divers explore a realm of beauty that until this century was inaccessible except to a handful of pioneers. In the subdued light of the 70 foot-high kelp forests, animals without backbones and plants without roots create a world of vibrant color. Lingcod, cabezone and rockfish swim in and out of view. The unexpected appearance of a seal, a sea otter, or whale quickens the heart.
Accessible Features
Picnic Area
Whaler’s Cove: The picnic area has one accessible table on a new firm, stable surface. The parking lot and route of travel are generally accessible. Restrooms: A generally accessible comfort station is nearby. The path of travel is accessible.

The Piney Woods area has an accessible table on dirt surfaces that may be usable in dry weather. A new accessibly designed restroom is available in the parking area.

Cypress Grove Trail is accessible for 0.25 mile and offers excellent views of the cove. The trailhead, accessible parking and a new accessible comfort station are located in the Cypress Grove parking area.

Sand Hill Trail, also called Sea Lion Point Trail, is a paved accessible loop trail about 0.40 mile long leading to great views of the cove (see photo below) and perhaps the occasional otter and/or sea lion. Parking in Sea Lion Point lot. Trailhead is 200 feet beyond lot on road.
Carmelo Meadow Trail, Begins at the entry station and provides accessible trail linkage to the Granite Point Trail (also accessible). The trail winds through native Monterey Pine forest and terminates at Whalers Cove. Accessible parking is available at the park entrance. The trail is .3 miles in length and is surfaced with compacted soil.

Granite Point Trail: The trail is accessed by way of the Carmelo Meadow Trail. The route hugs the Whalers Cove bluff offering spectacular views of the coastline and its abundant wildlife. Accessible parking is available at the park entrance. The trail is .36 miles in length and is surfaced with compacted soil.

Other Information
The Cypress Grove area has an information kiosk with park-related publications and other small items of interest. Accessible parking and restroom are nearby.


Wonders of Wildlife at Point Lobos State Reserve
Sea lions, shore birds and more share this gorgeous chunk of Pacific Coast south of Carmel, California
Cypress Grove Trail
A nice loop through the cypress trees to many great views of coves below.
1.0 mi/
1.6 km
A Birders Guide to Point Lobos
The diverse habitats at Point Lobos provide a wonderful birding opportunity.
5.0 mi/
8.0 km
A Birders Guide to Point Lobos
A Birders Guide to Point Lobos
California, United States
Easy: 5.0 miles, Half day
The diverse habitats at Point Lobos provide a wonderful birding opportunity.
Cypress Grove Trail
Cypress Grove Trail
Point Lobos State Natural Reserve, California, United States
Easy: 1.0 miles, 1 hour or less
A nice loop through the cypress trees to many great views of coves below.
Wonders of Wildlife at Point Lobos State Reserve
Easy: Half day
Sea lions, shore birds and more share this gorgeous chunk of Pacific Coast south of Carmel, California
Community Trips
Sand Hill Cove Photo
Sand Hill Cove Photo
Sand Hill Cove Photo
Sand Hill Cove Photo
Point Lobos Grand Loop
by chris on Nov 12, 2010
Point Lobos State Natural Reserve, California, United States
5.6 miles
As part of our effort to create guides for all California State Parks, Joost and I set out for Point Lobos.  It was a beautiful November day so we parked the car and set out with our cameras over our shoulders and our iPhone apps set to tracking mode.  The sea lions were out in full force around Sea Lion Cove.  We parted ways around the north end of Cypress Cove and...
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Point Lobos State Reserve
by sea2sky on Oct 31, 2009
Carmel Highlands, California, United States
7.6 miles
Point Lobos State Reserve Hwy 1 & Riley Ranch RdCarmel, CA 93923http://www.parks.ca.gov/?page_id=571
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Point Lobos State Reserve - Perimeter trail
by zeebodaman on Apr 27, 2008
Carmel Highlands, California, United States
4.9 miles
Gorgeous sunny day at Point Lobos. We took a nice easy fun hike today (still trying to break in my new hiking shoes). We saw 2 bunnies, a deer that let us walk very close, a millipede, seals, sea lions, and many birds. There was also a multitude of wild flowers in bloom, especially the wild iris' and sticky monkeys.
Wildflowers Photo
Wildflowers Photo
Robin Photo
Gray Squirrel Photo
Point Lobos - Interior Trails
by tclifton on Jun 22, 2010
Carmel Highlands, California, United States
4.7 miles
For this hike, I wanted to focus on the interior trails at Point Lobos and pick up a few places that I haven't covered so far. I define the interior trails as those that cut across the Reserve in contrast to the main trails that go around its perimiter. There are four main interior trails at Point Lobos, the Mound Meadows trail, the Pine Ridge trail, the Lace Lichen trail and the...
Sick Sea Lion? Photo
Harbor Seals Photo
Brandt's Cormorants Photo
Black-crowned Night Heron Photo
Point Lobos Birding
by tclifton on Apr 28, 2010
Carmel Highlands, California, United States
4.5 miles
Point Lobos has been called the greatest meeting of land and sea in the world. I won't argue that here. It is also a nice place to do some easy hikes and if you like viewing birds and marine mammals it is well suited for that too.For this trip, I chose the main perimeter trails. They give you a good sense of what the reserve has to offer in a 4.5 mile...
Snowy Egret Photo
Snowy Egret Photo
Black Phoebe Photo
Loose Kelp Photo
Fall Birding at Point Lobos
by tclifton on Oct 18, 2010
Carmel Highlands, California, United States
4.7 miles
Another jaunt at Point Lobos to check out the fall sights, birds, late flowers, and termites. I actually didn't plan on the termites, but should have because it was the first clear day after the first rain of the season. Termite hatches seem far less threatening when they aren't happening in your neighborhood. The birds also seemed to like the event.
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Point Lobos Walk
by scheeniyil on Aug 22, 2010
California, United States
3.6 miles
This is one of our favorite places to walk. Cool ocean breeze, scenic trails... Relaxing!
Great Egret Photo
Canada Goose Photo
Wild Turkeys Photo
Song Sparrow Photo
Point Lobos - Granite Point trail
by tclifton on Apr 13, 2010
Carmel Highlands, California, United States
2.2 miles
This out and back hike is just over two miles (if you add in the loops) along the northeast shore at Point Lobos State Reserve.Bear with me as I try to upload photos for a guide. I will get back to finish this shortly because it was a nice little hike.
Wild rose and ferns Photo
Bewick's Wren Photo
Hairy Woodpecker Photo
Chestnut-backed Chickadee Photo
Point Lobos - Whalers Knoll
by tclifton on Jun 04, 2010
Carmel Highlands, California, United States
4.0 miles
This was another birding hike, but then all of my hikes these days focus on birding. I also wanted to cover two trails that I had not hiked before, the Whaler's Knoll trail and the Lace Lichen trail. I started at the Sea Lion Point parking lot and headed north on the North Shore trail. At a little over a quarter of a mile, the Whaler's Knoll trial heads off to the...
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Point Lobos
by whiteeagles on Sep 19, 2010
Carmel, California, United States
6.5 miles

Terrific trails, great ocean views. Hilly but that gives you those excellent views. Bring water and a snack because a complete walk around take 3-4 hours. Lots of natural history too.
Visited on Sep 07, 2013

by dhinchcliffe on Sep 08, 2013
Point Lobos State Natural Reserve rocks
Visited on Apr 02, 2013

by Nyloncoretransmissionbelting on Mar 27, 2014
Amazing place all around.
Visited on Jan 31, 2012

by karina.quintans on Mar 26, 2013
amazing place loved it
Visited on Jul 08, 2011

by gymequipment on May 20, 2014
amazing views, if you're in Monterey area, don't miss this
Visited on Jan 22, 2011

by shadster on Feb 04, 2011
I was here just last week for the first time and it made quite the impression. Even though it was the middle of November I was comfortable walking around in shorts and a t-shirt, and the place was almost to capacity--on a friday! There were plenty of sea lions on sea lion rock and the trails were very scenic.

I hiked along the perimeter trail which let me see almost the entire park and it was all great. Listening to the sounds of the waves and watching them as they crashed on the cliffs was just great.

Visited on Nov 12, 2010

by chris on Nov 19, 2010
Visited Point Lobos on a beautiful November Friday. This was my second visit to Point Lobos and it certainly lived up to my expectations again. This is one of these little gems that make California such a special place. The main attractions are its stunning Ocean vistas and the see lions just off the coast.

It was quite busy (first parking lot was filled up, next one had some spaces). We encountered lots of groups of school kids and other hikers on the trail. But since the park is surprisingly expansive (esp if you venture beyond Allan Memorial Grove and Sea Lion Point) it wasn't too crowded at all. Actually, it's nice to see so many people enjoying this spectacular park.

The rocks of sea lion point were covered with hundreds of sea lions. We hiked around the entire park, and made stops in the Allan Memorial Grove (great views of the ocean) and at Gibson beach with its steep stairs down to this small beach.

Visited on Nov 12, 2010

by joost on Nov 19, 2010
PT LOBOS State Reserve is a perfect stop while driving the Pacific Coast to view wildlife, hike and enjoy the outdoors. Visit the old whaling station and enjoy the friendly docents.
Highly recommended.

Visited on May 18, 2010

by SLEDAWG on Apr 17, 2011
It's a short but interesting ride around the park.
Visited on Mar 26, 2010

by videodiver on Mar 22, 2011
the station and people are awsome
Visited on Mar 04, 2010

by Nylonsandwichbelts on Mar 27, 2014
One of my favorites. Beautiful scenery and great hiking possibilities.
Visited on Nov 24, 2009

by Touchstone on Dec 27, 2011
this is heavenly location
Visited on Apr 05, 2009

by fitnessequipments on May 20, 2014
I would like to visit here once more
Visited on Jun 05, 2006

by multigymequip on May 20, 2014

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Hatch, Field Trip, Band-tailed Pigeon, carmel, raptor, marine mammals, Point Lobos, Seals, Big Sur, seal, Sea Otter, Invasive, Hiking, california, weed, humpback whale, birding, monterey, sea lion, Bird Watching

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