Sea Lion Point + Sand Hill Trails

Point Lobos State Natural Reserve

Big Sur Coastline, California

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Sea Lion Point + Sand Hill Trails


  • Trail leading from the parking area.- Sea Lion Point + Sand Hill Trails
  • Looking out into Headland Cove over some wildflowers.- Sea Lion Point + Sand Hill Trails
  • A white-crowned sparrow pauses for a picture.- Sea Lion Point + Sand Hill Trails
  • Visitors walking along the trail.- Sea Lion Point + Sand Hill Trails
  • Panoramic view of Sea Lion Point.- Sea Lion Point + Sand Hill Trails
  • Sea Lion Point on a beautiful January day.- Sea Lion Point + Sand Hill Trails
  • Sea lions packed onto the beach.- Sea Lion Point + Sand Hill Trails
  • Winter seems to be the best time to see sea lions.- Sea Lion Point + Sand Hill Trails
  • California Sea Lions bask in the sun.- Sea Lion Point + Sand Hill Trails
  • Visitors look for sea lions during the summer.- Sea Lion Point + Sand Hill Trails
  • A pelican glides over the ocean.- Sea Lion Point + Sand Hill Trails
  • Sand Hill Trail leads along the coast.- Sea Lion Point + Sand Hill Trails
  • Sand Hill Cove and the south shore of Point Lobos.- Sea Lion Point + Sand Hill Trails
  • A western scrub jay sits on a sign at the trail's end.- Sea Lion Point + Sand Hill Trails
Overview + Weather
Seasonal seals. Short walk. Binoculars are available to borrow.
Lower point trail closed often to protect wildlife.
Big Sur Coastline, CA
Pets allowed: 
Net Elevation Gain: 
70.00 ft (21.34 m)
Parking Pass: 
State Park Fee
Preferable Season(s):
Winter, Spring, Summer, Fall
Total Distance: 
0.90 mi (1.45 km)
Trail type: 
Trailhead Elevation: 
74.00 ft (22.56 m)
Current Local Weather:
Hike Description

Hike Description


When hiking along the trail to Sea Lion Point, visitors will witness many sources of the California Coast's beauty. Shrubs surrounding the trail come to life during the spring and summer and offer dazzling wildflowers of all colors, from purple and blue to pink and orange. These shrubs also are homes for many birds, rabbits, and reptiles. Three coves are passed along this trail, each lending its own uniqueness to the hike. Headland Cove is where a pristine and inaccessible beach entices visitors as calm waves lap against the shore.

Sea Lion Cove is next on the list of sights and where the main attraction lies. During most months sea lions and harbor seals can be observed in this area, although sometimes they lie far out of sight. Fortunately, visitors can borrow binoculars at the information booth at the parking lot. Don't forget to pick yours up! There are some months when hundreds of sea lions and seals hangout on the beach and rocks of Sea Lion Cove. The best time seems to be winter months, but it is always a good idea to call the park and ask before making the trip to see these magnificent animals. Because sea lions are wild animals, maintaining a respectful distance is imperative to avoid disturbing them. The lower trail out to Sea Lion Point is often closed to protect the wildlife. Typically the sea lions can still easily be observed from the remainder of the trail along the cliffs.

The last cove on this hike is Sand Hill Cove, a great spot to observe the geography of the area. Here layers and layers of rock can be seen on the cliffs. The thickness of each layer is indicative of the conditions of the deposit when it was formed. Lower layers are presumed to be older, and naturally the uppermost would be the most recently created. Black strata at the top may once have been the bottom of the ocean floor many years ago.

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Field Guide + Trail Map

Field Guide + Trail Map

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Location + Directions

Nearby Camping + Lodging

(3 within a 30 mile radius)

Nearby Adventures

(51 within a 30 mile radius)

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