When you drive in the Reserve, please remember that the 15 MPH speed limit is necessary for the safety of other visitors and of resident animals.
If you have one hour to spend…
Drive straight down the road from the entrance to the Sea Lion Point parking lot. If parking is available there, park and take the Cypress Grove Trail. You may pick up a free trail guide at the Information Station.
This walk covers 0.8 mile on mostly easy terrain with short sections of irregular surfaces. Sturdy shoes suggested.
You will get excellent views of the rocky shoreline and may see large waves crashing on the rocks, sea lions barking on offshore rocks, sea otters floating in near shore, a grove of ancient Monterey Cypress trees, and deer. In season you can see wildflowers or whales.
If the Sea Lion Point parking lot is full, drive a short distance down the road from Sea Lion Point and park in the Piney Woods picnic area. Walk back down the access road and across south shore road. Take the trail to the left and walk on the relatively level South Shore Trail as far as you would like, then retrace your steps back to Piney Woods.
If you have two hours to spend…
Park in Piney Woods and walk back down the access road and across south shore road. Veer to the right and walk up the trail to Sand Hill and Sea Lion Point and climb the stairs. Go left at top of stairs and loop around past the overlook to the offshore sea lion rocks. You can often also see sea otters in the water or harbor seals on rocks. If you are lucky, a docent will be there and let you share a spotting scope for close-up views of these animals. Depending on how fast you move, you may also have time to walk the Cypress Grove loop trail. A docent at the Information Station at the trailhead can answer your questions and loan you binoculars. To return to your car, you can take the Lace Lichen Trail, turn right at the Pine Ridge Trail, then go right at the fork.
You will be on ocean’s edge during most of this walk, where you may see sea otters, harbor seals, sea lions, whales (in season), pelicans and other shorebirds, and deer on the Cypress Grove loop. And stunning rocky shores, of course, as well as our gnarly Monterey cypress trees.