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North Shore Trail + Whaler's Knoll

Point Lobos State Natural Reserve

Big Sur Coastline, California

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North Shore Trail + Whaler's Knoll

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  • Guillemot Island populated with cormorants.- North Shore Trail + Whaler's Knoll
  • Long exposure of the ocean at Cannery Point.- North Shore Trail + Whaler's Knoll
  • Walking through the forested North Shore Trail.- North Shore Trail + Whaler's Knoll
  • Looking into Bluefish Cove from the trail.- North Shore Trail + Whaler's Knoll
  • Three harbor seals relax on a rock.- North Shore Trail + Whaler's Knoll
  • One harbor seal peaks around. - North Shore Trail + Whaler's Knoll
  • Great Egret waiting for its next meal.- North Shore Trail + Whaler's Knoll
  • Another view of Bluefish Cove.- North Shore Trail + Whaler's Knoll
  • An orange fungi gathers on the cypress trees.- North Shore Trail + Whaler's Knoll
  • Brandt's cormorant resting on a rock.- North Shore Trail + Whaler's Knoll
  • A pelican grooms itself.- North Shore Trail + Whaler's Knoll
  • The cypress trees have an eerie feeling about them.- North Shore Trail + Whaler's Knoll
  • Walking up to Whaler's Knoll.- North Shore Trail + Whaler's Knoll
  • Looking out toward Big Dome and the ocean from Whaler's Knoll.- North Shore Trail + Whaler's Knoll
  • A path leading to another parking area passes through poison oak.- North Shore Trail + Whaler's Knoll
Overview + Weather
Pros: 
Excellent bird and seal watching. Beautiful views. Coastal trail.
Cons: 
Poison oak.
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Region:
Big Sur Coastline, CA
Congestion: 
Moderate
Pets allowed: 
No
Net Elevation Gain: 
150.00 ft (45.72 m)
Parking Pass: 
State Park Fee
Preferable Season(s):
Winter, Spring, Summer, Fall
Total Distance: 
2.00 mi (3.22 km)
Trail type: 
There-and-back
Trailhead Elevation: 
31.00 ft (9.45 m)
Current Local Weather:
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Hike Description

Hike Description

Contributor

Point Lobos State Natural Reserve is a bastion for marine wildlife along the California Coast, and the North Shore Trail is a perfect route to view much of what Point Lobos has to offer. Starting along the trail, the first stop is Cannery Point, where excellent views of Carmel-by-the-Sea and Pebble Beach can be enjoyed on a sunny day. The trail then sweeps in a loop, giving a wide view of the ocean and surrounding rocks. From here you will hike into the trees around Bluefish Cove. Passing close to the cliff sides provides complete views into the cove where harbor seals and many sea birds can be observed, especially the great egret and cormorants. One of the most common birds in the park is the Brandt's cormorant. This particular sea bird dives underwater when feeding and swims after fish, catching them it its bill. They are also known to catch squid in this way.

After passing around Bluefish Cove the trail takes a slight detour through an eerie cypress grove out to Guillemot Island, where many cormorants and pelicans can be seen hanging out. The brown pelican is the most commonly seen pelican in the park, and it has an interesting history in the environmental movement. A pesticide called DDT made brown pelicans lay thinner eggs that then cracked when adults tried to warm their eggs by standing on them. This decline helped lead to stricter pesticide regulations, and the brown pelican populations rebounded. 

After leaving the bird haven of Guillemot Island the trail leads further along the coast past Big Dome, a granite peak huddled between cypress trees. For a better view, take the very short trail up to Whaler's Knoll, rest on the bench, and take in the surrounding ocean, trees, and cliffs. Once back onto North Shore Trail, follow it to the parking area where the Sea Lion Point Trail and Cypress Grove Trail begin.

This trail can be completed as a there-and-back trail or combined with other trails, such as the Lace Lichen Trail to make a giant loop through the reserve.

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(3 within a 30 mile radius)

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(51 within a 30 mile radius)

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