Self-Guided Tour of Point Lobos National Reserve in Carmel, California
We have four spectacular hikes planned for Point Lobos, though you don't need to take the hikes to enjoy the beauty of this park. So if the parking lot is still open turn right into Point Lobos and stop at the Ranger Booth to pay your entrance fee to this park. You may also purchase a map if you like. Keep your parking receipt as it is valid for parking at other State Parks you might visit today (Pfeiffer Big Sur and Julia Pfeiffer).
Point Lobos was one of the major shore whaling stations along the coast of California from 1862 to 1879. The Whalers Cabin Museum, which opens at 9 am when staffing is available, is worth a visit.
Whalers Cove is the entrance for the Point Lobos Underwater Reserve and is a popular scuba diving location. In the area around the parking lot you will find a number of informational plaques about exploring this underwater reserve.
marked North Shore Trail.
further up the hill to Whalers Knoll.
feasting on a sanddab in Whalers Cove.
This loop may be explored starting from the right or the left.
Today we chose to start our loop from the right.
This airborne algae produces its own food and is not parasitic or harmful to the trees. It requires extremely pure moist air, which it finds in abundance here at Point Lobos. You will find it growing largely on the trunks of older Monterey cypress but it is also known to grow on rocks as well.
Continue straight, this road will dead end in the Bird Rock parking lot, which is our next stop.
hike back to the parking area.
While you drive we will tell you about the trees and plants of Point Lobos, most of which remain green all year long. The one major exception is poison oak which drops its red fall leaves and becomes a bare stem in the winter.
The Monterey pines found on the reserve are one of only three native stands of this tree species in the world. The Monterey cypress as we mentioned before is native to only two areas. Though the pine and cypress thrive in the cool climate and frequent fog, they both require the heat of fire to release seeds from their cones.
Between the trees of the forest and the ocean, evergreen shrubs create a variety of textures, colors and fragrances here in Point Lobos. For much of the year the slender stems of silvery light gray California sagebrush and bushes of Carmel creeper with tiny blue flowers add color to the ground cover. Then, during the spring wildflower season, the meadows here come alive, bursting forth with a rainbow of colors: golden yarrow, orange seaside painted cup, deep blue sky lupine and purple lavender just to name a few.
Point Lobos State Natural Reserve is considered the crown jewel of California’s State Park system and attracts over 600,000 visitors a year. Believe it or not, you have just visited a small portion of this natural wonderland.
Label Point Lobos Canning Company in 1905 (public domain)
Carmelito plot map 1890 (public domain)
Brandt's cormorant (Wikipedia - public domain)
Sea otter (Wikipedia - public domain)