North Shore Trail
Between Whalers Cove and Sea Lion Point parking area; 1.4 miles. A challenging walk through pine forest with open views of coves below. Recommended only for strong walkers. Much of this trail requires walking over rocky ground, tree roots, or stairs. However, the trail from the Sea Lion Point parking lot to the Old Veteran Cypress is wheelchair accessible.
This trail is well worth the effort for hearty walkers with strong legs. Exposed to prevailing northwesterly winds and seas, this rugged headland of sheer-walled coves and changing plant communities offers surprises at every turn. Note the dramatic cliffs of granodiorite, slowly carved through the ages by the pummeling of the relentless surf. This trail affords several views into several coves including Bluefish Cove – often with seals, otters, and egrets.
At the eastern end, Cannery Point offers good views across Carmel Bay and Whalers Cove, as shown in the photo at right. In spring and summer, one can see nesting western gulls, pigeon guillemots, and both Brandt's and pelagic cormorants on Guillemot Island, which can best be seen from a side trail at about the midpoint of the trail. Up the next rock staircase (quite long and uneven) you can go straight for a short distance out to a couple of very fine view points. The North Shore Trail turns left at the top of the stairs. Soon you see a spectacular view from high above Whalers Cove.
If the stairs from the parking lot look too daunting, you can take the much easier (and less scenic) Cabin Trail, which starts behind Whalers Cabin and tees into the North Shore Trail after a very easy walk up the hill.
Two side trails lead up from the midsection of this trail to Whalers Knoll. See Whalers Knoll Trail.
Near the western end, a short side trail (Old Veteran Trail) leads to the best views of the much-photographed Old Veteran Cypress – alone, gnarled, and clinging to the rock wall of Cypress Cove. This trail also affords an excellent view of Cypress Cove.