Have you ever wanted to visit Point Lobos State Reserve? Point Lobos is one of the most beautiful places in California. It is a secluded cove on the Pacific Ocean that features dramatic cliffs, rocky inlets, and sandy beaches.
The area has been preserved as a state park since 1933 and is now home to more than 1,000 species of plants. You can explore trails along the coast or through forests filled with redwoods.
There are also plenty of opportunities for kayaking and hiking in this stunning nature reserve. If you love nature, this is definitely a place you should visit the next time you’re in California and we’re excited to share our visitor’s guide to Point Lobos State Reserve. Let’s get into it!
About the Punta Lobos State Natural Reserve
Point Lobos State Natural Reserve is located along the central coast of California, just two hours south of San Francisco. Point Lobos State Natural Reserve has been called “the crown jewel of the California state park system” for its spectacular scenery. Since it’s so close to San Francisco, if you’re visiting the city, Point Lobos State Natural Reserve makes a great day trip.
There are plenty of wildlife viewing opportunities available for hikers and photographers with animals such as otters, sea lions, seals and dolphins often seen playing in the surf. There are also over 1,000 species of plants that can be found within Point Lobos.
The reserve was established in 1933 and is currently home to 280 state parks around the world. The reserve covers more than 1,000 acres and protects the land around Point Lobos from any future development.
Top Things to Do in Point Lobos State Natural Reserve
If you like hiking, there are great trails to explore.
More than 16 miles of hiking trails with beautiful views can be found around Point Lobos State Natural Reserve. The following are some of the most popular trails:
The coastal trail is a 3.8 mile loop that is mostly level with great ocean views. A section of the coastal path is handicap accessible
The Cypress Grove Trail is 2.2 miles and also has great ocean views; this trail includes benches to stop and enjoy the scenery
The Lighthouse Trail is 1.5 miles long and ends at a lighthouse.
The Skyline-to-Sea Trail covers 3.2 miles from the cliffs above the Pacific Ocean to the sand dunes below them. There are some steep sections so this is not the best trail for kids.
Hike to the top of the Lime Point Lighthouse and get a panoramic view of the entire area. It’s an easy walk that only takes 45 minutes round trip.
Explore Natural Bridges Cove at low tide
Natural Bridges Cove is only accessible at low tide. This cove is tucked away at the end of a long stretch of sandy beach and is home to natural bridges that form from the rocks on the shoreline.
The three natural bridges are called sea caves, arches, and pipes. These natural bridges are formed from the erosion of waves, wind and tides that have worn away the rocks over millions of years.
The area looks very different when you explore it at low tide because the three bridges become visible as you walk along the beach. While there are no guarantees as to what animals you’ll see in this cove, otters and harbor seals can often be seen offshore!
Kayaking is a great way to explore the Point Lobos water’s edge. There are many kayak vendors near the parking lot that have kayaks available that you can rent for around $25-30 per day, which includes life jackets and paddles. You are allowed to kayak until sunset every day of the week.
Along the rocky shoreline of Point Lobos, there are many caves that can be explored with a kayak. Anacapa and Santa Cruz islands are also good places to explore with a kayak.
Take the Tide Pools Tour
For just $15, you can get a two-hour guided tour of the tide pools that Point Lobos State Natural Reserve is famous for. Guides provide wetsuits, booties, and snorkel gear upon request. It’s a great way to explore the area and learn about all the marine life that lives in this amazing place.
Many species of animals inhabit Point Lobos State Natural Reserve, including otters and harbor seals, which can often be seen offshore in the nearby inlet. Visitors to Point Lobos State Natural Reserve should also not miss out on seeing animals like otters, sea lions, seals, and dolphins playing in the surf.
How to get to Point Lobos Nature Reserve
The closest airport to Point Lobos State Natural Reserve is the Monterey Airport. Visitors heading to Point Lobos State Natural Reserve should take Highway 1 South from the airport, then take Highway 101 just after leaving Monterey. There are local buses that can help visitors get to Point Lobos State Natural Reserve, but they only run on weekends and holidays during the summer, so plan ahead.
Getting there is easy as there are road signs directing you to Point Lobos State Natural Reserve throughout Pacific Grove, California (the closest town). If you are driving from San Francisco, take Highway One/US-101 South for 118 miles to Highway 68 West toward Pacific Grove/Carmel-by-the-Sea. Then turn left onto Lighthouse Avenue and drive 0.7 miles before parking in one of the six lots on the reservation.
Point Lobos State Natural Reserve is open from 8 am to sunset every day of the week. There are two main parking lots: one at Whalers Cove and one at Cypress Grove Beach.
Best time of year to visit Point Lobos Nature Reserve
The best time to visit Point Lobos is between the months of January and June. The weather during these months averages around 50 degrees Fahrenheit.
Visiting in the summer, even though it will be hot, means you get to enjoy both the wildlife and the natural beauty of Point Lobos State Nature Reserve. You can also enjoy kayaking and snorkeling during the summer, making for a fun adventure.
What to Know Before Visiting Point Lobos State Natural Reserve
- Be sure to pack sunscreen, hats, sunglasses, and water for this state park visit, as there isn’t much shade along the trails. If you plan on taking a lot of photos, be sure to bring extra memory cards or film because there are many beautiful sights around Point Lobos State Natural Reserve.
- There are plenty of restaurants near the Point Lobos State Natural Reserve, making it an ideal spot for lunch after your hike, but be sure to visit during the day as the gates to Point Lobos are locked at night.
- The reserve is pet-friendly, so feel free to bring your furry friends.
- Camping is not permitted at Point Lobos State Natural Reserve as it is a protected area and has been designated for day use only.
- Point Lobos State Natural Reserve is two hours south of San Francisco and is one of the best day trips from San Francisco you can take.
- There are many incredible views along the trails and several species of wildlife can be seen on a visit to Point Lobos State Natural Reserve. The area is also home to numerous plant species that cannot be found anywhere else in the world!
Point Lobos State Reserve is a hidden gem found on the central coast of California. If you’re looking for an easy day trip from San Francisco, this should be your destination. The preserve has often been called “the jewel in the crown” of California’s 280 state parks and continues to attract people interested in seeing beautiful views. We hope you enjoyed your Point Lobos State Nature Reserve visitor guide, happy traveling!
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