Hiking & Backpacking Big Sur

Point Lobos State Reserve
By Analise Elliot
  |  Gorp.com
big sur sunset
Enjoy a barefoot beach stroll at sunset at one of the most incredible wave-washed beaches of Big Sur (Photo © Analise Elliot)
Excerpted from Hiking & Backpacking Big Sur by Analise Elliot

This exceptional stretch of the Big Sur coast has been dubbed "the crown jewel of the California state park system." Seven hundred of the reserve's 1,250 acres lie underwater, encompassing rocky coves, shallow tide pools, and broad kelp beds. The remaining 550 acres take in 14 trails that crisscross through wind-sculpted pines, across jagged rocky headlands, and along white sand beaches beside cobalt waters. Strolling this dynamic, diverse landscape, you'll find plenty of opportunities to sightsee, take photos, paint, picnic, and study nature, while water lovers can scuba dive or snorkel.

In addition to harboring incredibly diverse flora and fauna, unique geology, rare plant life, and spectacular scenery, Point Lobos is also a place rich in human history. At one time or another over the past two hundred years, the point has been home to Native Americans, Chinese fishermen, Japanese abalone harvesters, and Portuguese whalers. Throughout the park, historic relics and endangered archaeological sites offer visitors insight into the varied occupations that once thrived here.

Whether you walk the windswept coastline or head inland through Monterey pine groves and meadows, you'll hear the raucous barking of sea lions from their nearshore colonies—an enduring reminder of the earlier Spanish name for the reserve: Punta de los Lobos Marinos (Point of the Sea Wolves).

Directions: The reserve entrance is off Highway 1, 2.2 miles south of the Rio Road intersection in Carmel and 1.2 miles north of the Highlands Inn entrance road (Highlands Drive) in Carmel Highlands.

Visitor Center: An information kiosk at the entrance offers books, maps, and interpretive displays about the zoology, geology, and botany of Point Lobos.

Nearest Campgrounds: Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park for coastal campgrounds or Bottchers Gap for inland options.

Information: Open daily 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. in summer, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. in winter. There's an $8-per-vehicle entrance fee (discounts offered to seniors and the disabled). Entry is limited to 450 visitors at any one time. Bicycles are restricted to paved roads. Fires and the use of stoves are prohibited. Fishing, Frisbee, kite flying, and other games are prohibited. Pets are not allowed in the reserve, though guide dogs for the blind and certified service dogs are permitted. Diving is restricted to Bluefish and Whalers Coves with advance permits and proof of dive certification.

Website: www.pointlobos.org

Phone: (831) 624-4909

Article © Analise Elliot. All rights reserved.

Published: 22 Feb 2005 | Last Updated: 24 May 2011
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication


Sign up to Away's Travel Insider

Preview newsletter »