Point Lobos State Natural Reserve 3 mi. S of town off Hwy. 1, (831) 624-4909. Hours vary, but usually 9am-5pm. $10/vehicle. No pets.
Described by Robert Louis Stevenson as "the greatest meeting of land and water in the world," Point Lobos provides the opportunity to explore the rustic, undeveloped beauty of the Monterey Peninsula. Flat-topped, gnarled-limbed Monterey cypress trees are native to just the 4-mile stretch between here and Pebble Beach, and sea otters are often spotted in the 1,250-acre reserve's protected waters.
Many trails are available—the self-guiding .08-mile Cypress Grove Trail loop is choice, but the .08-mile round trip Bird Island Trail through pine woods is also popular. Guided ranger walks are scheduled daily in summer. On my most recent visit, we hiked the 0.7 mile South Plateau Trail which begins at the entrance station and leads to Bird Island. The trail is well described as “through pine and live oak woodland . . . somewhat hilly and has uneven surfaces.” Be aware that trail signage is poor and very few maps are posted on site, so in advance of your visit take advantage of the printable brochures that include trail maps and animal descriptions.
Dress warmly and in layers, and bring binoculars, a camera, and maybe a picnic, too. Note that Pacific grey whales are seen from December through April, and also that this is considered the best spot on the peninsula for scuba diving.
The Whalers Cabin and the Whaling Station Museum interpretive center is inside a restored whaler’s cabin built in 1851 by a Chinese fisherman. Artifacts and photographs tell about the area’s history, and one display highlights the location’s various incarnations in movies. Don’t miss the collection of etched abalone shells from the 1860s. This venue offers a good orientation to the area and makes a choice first stop.
|entrance station to Point Lobos State Natural Reserve in Carmel, California|
|trail through pine forest at Point Lobos State Natural Reserve in Carmel, California|
|view of Gibson Beach at Point Lobos State Natural Reserve in Carmel, California|
|Point Lobos State Natural Reserve in Carmel, California|
|pelican enjoys Point Lobos State Natural Reserve in Carmel, California|
|South Shore Trail at Point Lobos State Natural Reserve in Carmel, California|
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images ©2018 Carole Terwilliger Meyers