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Bluffs, Dunes & Elephant Seals

Misty Walk through the Dunes

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Rating: 5 out of 5 by EveryTrail members
Difficulty: Easy
Length: 4 miles
Duration: Half day
Family Friendly

Overview:  Año Nuevo State Park was established as a Natural Reserve and Wildlife Protection Area in 1958. It protects a section of truly... more »

Tips:  During the prime seasons one could easily spend a large portion of the day here.

For a quick trail walk, expect 1-2 hours. Most of... more »

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Points of Interest

1. Trailhead

2. Intersection

Intersection to Trails, Barn, and Visitors Center

3. Intersection

Intersection. Head Left to Pond Loop, continuing through to North Point.

4. Seal Watch Staging Area

Ano Nuevo Point Trail staging area for seal walks. There’s a small building with displays regarding the seal species here. In a pinch it provides handy rain shelter. Signs posted suggest that during the seal season, further travel towards the points may require staff guidance and/or a permit.

5. Intersection to viewing area

Intersection and scenic vista point. Informational signage on local seismic activity and a nice view over the bluff to the beach below.

6. Intersection

Intersection. Vista point overlooking the beach below.

7. Interpretive Signage

Whale watching signage and end of boardwalk.

8. Trail Junction

Trail Intersection in the dunes. Bight Beach is to the left, North Point straight ahead. Each location provides wildlife viewing from above over the low bluffs. Continue through the dunes. Note: the walkable area is roped off from the surrounding dunes to aid in protecting the vegetation and wildlife.

9. Trail Junction

Intersection with a Boardwalk and Sand Dunes. The boardwalk takes one to additional seal viewing areas along the beaches. Continue through the dunes to North Point. In this area the vegetation has gotten quite thick on the dunes. There are periodic runoff creeks scattered throughout.

10. Trail Intersection

Intersection. Continue straight to North Point. Go left to a vista point on top of the low bluffs overlooking the beaches.

11. Vista Point

Vista Point on bluff about 25 feet over the beach. Seals sunning on the beach. There may be adolescent males play fighting in the surf.

12. Junction

Backtracking we return to the intersection and boardwalk. Follow the boardwalk towards the coast, and take the right hand trail to a junction.

13. Vista Point

Vista Point on bluff over beach at North Point. Today there’s an Alpha male, a number of females, and some adolescent males playing. The bluff is less than 20 feet high providing a great view of the seals below.

14. Viewpoint

This could be a fantastic location to see young seals between January and June at near eye level.

Return and backtrack towards the trail head.

15. Junction

After backtracking to this intersection, take the right hand fork to the Pond Loop, Cove Beach, and parking lot.

16. junction and POI

Trail to Cove Beach access. POI informational display on pond life and the large pond.

17. Junction

Return to the shipwreck display. Continue through to the trail head.

18. End

Trailhead. From here visit the barn and Visitor's Center for more information on the park and its cultural and natural history.

19. Junction

The right leg will take to an overlook at point where a runoff creek reaches the beach.

20. Ano Nuevo Point Trail Intersection

Ano Nuevo Point Trail Intersection. Go left to Pond Loop and Cove Beach, following the trail to North Point. At this point there is a section of an old wooden ship hull and information commemorating ships lost off Ano Nuevo and why the lighthouse station was established offshore in the second half of the 1800’s.

21. Interpretive Point

Info display on raptors, local fauna. Scenic overlook of pond area.

22. Vista

Vista Point with a great view of the abandoned lighthouse on the island offshore. Start of boardwalk to the sand dunes. The light station on the island operated between 1872 and 1948. It formed an important part of the navigation aids along the coast south of San Francisco. It was installed as a result of several catastrophic shipwrecks along the... More