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Coastal Hike At Point Lobos State Beach

Updated: Feb 15, 2022

Location : Point Lobos Natural Preserve, Carmel-By-The-Sea, CA.

Parking : $10 (free roadside available)

Trail type : Loop

Trail Length : 6.7 miles

Elevation Gain : 714 ft

Difficulty : Easy

Trails traversed : South Plateau Trail > Sand Hill Trail > Cypress Grove Trail > North Shore Trail > Cabin Trail > Granite Point Trail > Carmel Meadow Trail

Post-hike pit stop suggestion : Allegro Pizzeria, Carmel-By-The-Sea, CA.

This is yet another premium hike close to the Bay Area along the Carmel coast. With lush flora and fauna all along the trail, and dramatic cypress trees bordering the rugged cliffs, the views on this hike are some of the most breathtaking ones you will see in all of California.

If you arrive early in the day (before 9am), free parking is also available alongside the highway. Parking within the park costs $10. There is ample parking within the park, at various vista points. Restrooms are available near the park entrance as well as at various parking lots.

The Point Lobo loop trail can start and end at any one of these parking lots, or from the park entrance. The network of trails listed above starts at the park entrance, gradually climbs upwards for the first half a mile, after which it is almost flat in its entirety. It does get rocky in a few areas with exposed roots along the trail which can cause one to trip easily. Due to this, sturdy hiking boots are highly recommended.

The first vista point you will come across is beautiful and serene Hidden Beach. Although you will pass a few other beaches along the loop, this beach is the easiest to access and the least rocky.

Hidden Beach

The most famous vista in this park is the emerald water of China Cove. If starting your hike from the park entrance, you will reach this point within the first two miles of the hike. The color of the water depends on the angle of the suns rays, with the water being most vibrant mid morning to noon. This is also the time you are most likely to see elephant seals lazing on the beach in the cove.

Emerald waters of China Cove

Seals sunbathing at China Cove

The route takes you to some of the other highlights of the park, including Bird Island, cypress grove and Whaler beach. The views are stunning at every bend, be it of wildflowers covered in early morning dew, or seals sunbathing on the beach, or waves crashing against the rugged cliffs, or divers practicing their skill around a kelp forest at Whaler Beach.

When you reach Whalers Cove, turn right on Carmel Meadow Trail which will take you back to the park entrance.

Below are some vistas captured during this hike:

A quick family click at Cypress Grove

Bird island

Wildflower bathed in early morning dew.


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