One of the most popular hikes at Point Lobos and for good reason! This short, clifftop loop takes you through dense cypress groves like the Allan Memorial Grove and also near several coves with gorgeous coastal views. If you only had time a time for one or two hikes in the park, this would be my top pick, along with Bird Island in the China Cove area.
Elevation Change: 40 ft
Trail Type: Loop
Miles: 0.8 (roundtrip)
Trailhead: Google Maps
Point Lobos State Marine Reserve in general is a very small park with very tiny parking lots, so be sure to arrive early to snag a spot at the Sea Lion Point parking lot. If this lot is full, you can check the nearby picnic areas like Piney Woods or look for other dirt turnouts along the main road. If all else fails, you can park outside the entrance gate and walk in as many do (and not have to pay the $10 entrance fee)
The trail is a relatively flat, leisurely stroll under the thick canopy of Monterey Cypress. Point Lobos is one of only two places in the entire world that Monterey Cypress are natively found (the other being Pebble Beach, CA), as they prefer moist areas constantly surrounded by fog.
The trail splits at the start of the the Allan Memorial Cypress Grove and forms a loop around the main grove. We decided to take the left fork and hike clockwise along the coast.
Eventually the trees open up, and the trail makes its way along the coast with steps carved into the rock.
We saw that lots of the trees were covered in a bright orange, fuzzy moss. It turns out the growth is actually Trentepohlia, a harmless algae that gets its color due to the cartenoids in the algal cells.
There isn't one particular point of interest along the trail, but the entire area is so just so scenic and unique with the coastal cypress that you could take your time to enjoy each spot.
After passing Pinnacles Cove, Ttere will be a sidetrail to your left that leads to North Point and a view of Cypress Cove. We stopped here for a while to enjoy the incredible view before heading back to the car.
The Cypress Grove Trail was one of my favorites along the coast of Central CA, not only for the chance to hike among a rare Monterey Cypress grove, but also because of the beautiful coastline and chances to see plenty of marine wildlife.
Favorite gear for this hike: