Pets allowed
Not Allowed
Elevation Gain
150.00 ft (45.72 m)
Trail type
2.00 mi (3.22 km)
Please respect the outdoors by practicing Leave No Trace. Learn more about how to apply the principles of Leave No Trace on your next outdoor adventure here.

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.

Logistics + Planning

Preferable season(s)




Parking Pass

State Park Fee


Excellent bird and seal watching. Beautiful views. Coastal trail.


Poison oak.

Trailhead Elevation

31.00 ft (9.45 m)


Bird watching
Big vistas


Nearby Adventures

Nearby Lodging + Camping


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