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Point Lobos - hiking, parking, general tips

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posts: 39
Point Lobos - hiking, parking, general tips

Hi All!

We are planning our visit to Point Lobos and we are actually going to be in/around Carmel on the Sunday of Memorial Day weekend. I really want to visit Point Lobos but I realize the parking will be a nightmare, if not impossible. Any tips? We will be driving in from San Francisco so arriving very early is not exactly possible because we have to wait on the rental car company to open on Sunday morning. Is it possible to park outside the park and walk in? How far of a walk is it from the entrance to Sea Lion Point parking lot?

Also, my top 2 hikes I want to do are Cypress Grove and Sea Lion Point. But I am open to any suggestions on hikes!

Also open to any general tips while visiting the park. It looks beautiful!

Oh if there are any other 'must sees' in Carmel, please let me know ... But we only have one day in Carmel.

Thank you very much for your insight and opinions!!

Grover Beach, Ca
Destination Expert
for Pismo Beach, Cambria, Big Sur
posts: 16,352
reviews: 9
1. Re: Point Lobos - hiking, parking, general tips

There is limited parking along Highway 1 outside of Point Lobos and everything close to the park entrance is a No Parking zone. It would mean parking at some distance away from the entrance and then having even more walking to reach the trails. The Cypress Grove Trail isn't far from the kiosk. Not sure about Sea Lion Point.

Parking will be just as hard to find in Carmel, as well. Will you be staying the night in Carmel? If so, I would check in to your hotel, leave the car and walk to town. If not, where are you headed after visiting Carmel?

Edited: 4:59 pm, April 24, 2014
Fremont, California
Destination Expert
for San Francisco
posts: 16,488
reviews: 2,745
2. Re: Point Lobos - hiking, parking, general tips

Yep its a nightmare but ways to help is get up early......and join in the line before the entrance station opens in the morning and wait to enter. They know how many cars can get in, and once they have the count to that level, the next car does not get in until a car leaves the park, One car exits, one car can get in.

If this does not work, there is some parking outside the park on highway 1 and then you can walk into the park, This too can get full so getting up early is advised here to. (of course later as one car leaves, you might be exceptionally lucky).

It sounds like you are a hiker, so check park maps

pointlobos.org/general-info/…coal-chute-cove

Camel - the beach and ocean front area, 17 mile drive is not necessary you can get as good of views for free in Pacific Grove area.....

and plan on seeing some of the shops and perhaps dinner in downtown Carmel.

posts: 39
3. Re: Point Lobos - hiking, parking, general tips

No we aren't staying in Carmel... Driving through that Sunday from San Francisco to our cabin at Ripplewood (which I think is an hour south of Carmel). We were planning to do Carmel that Sunday. I think the earliest we could make it to Point Lobos would be 10:30am. Do you recommend getting there at 10:30am or visiting carmel by the sea first then get to the park in the late afternoon, maybe 3:00 or 4:00? Thank you so much!!

San Francisco...
Destination Expert
for San Francisco
posts: 28,421
reviews: 136
4. Re: Point Lobos - hiking, parking, general tips

it is anyone's guess how crowded Memorial Day weekend will be. Everytime we go it is packed and we go early and when we pass that place in the evening we still see it is packed -- Perhaps our resident Expert Kibbles may have more info. Personally I would do it first thing and then do Carmel -- perhaps have lunch in carmel which will be a pain to park in as well on the long weekend

I would advice you to then drive during the daylight hours to your hotel and enjoy the rest of the big sur.

posts: 39
5. Re: Point Lobos - hiking, parking, general tips

Great thx!! I know it varies but what is the typical wait time to get in and park? Just wanting to plan accordingly (and have some realistic expectations!). Think we should skip Monterrey and just do Point lobos and Carmel Beach? I'm thinking with the wait time we may not have time to see Monterrey that same day. Never been to this part of the country... I'm excited even though it's going to be crowded! Thx again!!

San Francisco...
Destination Expert
for San Francisco
posts: 28,421
reviews: 136
6. Re: Point Lobos - hiking, parking, general tips

YOu have to at least drive through Monterey and check out Pacific grove -- the drive along the waterfront is amazing and perhaps by that time plenty of flowers blooming and it will be very pretty. It won't take you more than 15-20 mins to drive there with perhaps a photo or two. Is there a reason you cannot leave early from SF ? Rental car pick up ? I presume you are taking 280S and 17S to 85S to 101S to 152W to Monterey --

Grover Beach, Ca
Destination Expert
for Pismo Beach, Cambria, Big Sur
posts: 16,352
reviews: 9
7. Re: Point Lobos - hiking, parking, general tips

I have no personal observatory experience when it comes to Point Lobos over a holiday weekend, but I can tell you what it's like where I live further down the coast. It's C-R-A-Z-Y packed with people here! I can only imagine what it's like trying to access a state park with limited interior parking. I imagine it's a nightmare. Does that mean you shouldn't at least try? Of course not! I don't think time of day will matter, either, given it being a holiday weekend. But I would make Point Lobos the priority and get there first.

Carmel might end up just being a drive through, but even that will have you oohing and aaahing.

Monterey Peninsula...
posts: 1,998
8. Re: Point Lobos - hiking, parking, general tips

Be prepared to wait at the Point Lobos gate. They limit the number of cars that can be in the park at a given time. After that, one car has to leave before another car can enter. On a holiday weekend this procedure is pretty likely to be implemented.

If you want to walk in, and avoid the wait, I suggest you take the North Shore trail from Whalers Cove and that will take you to Cypress Grove and Sea Lion Point.

The park is fairly compact, so distances aren't great, but if you walk in be sure to carry snacks and water to sustain your walk. There are no food vendors in the park, and only a handful of water fountains near the parking areas.

-Mr. Toy

www.montereypeninsula.info

San Francisco
Destination Expert
for Borrego Springs, San Francisco, Solana Beach
posts: 32,638
reviews: 26
9. Re: Point Lobos - hiking, parking, general tips

<<Yep its a nightmare but ways to help is get up early>> It's too bad people don't read the OP -- which clearly states that they are leaving from SF that morning.

I have no specific reference regarding Point Lobos but perhaps later in the afternoon the crowds will ebb (say 3:00-3:30 or maybe even 4PM). It happens at Muir Woods and other places that get crowded early. Perhaps Mr. Toy or Kibbles could comment on that.

San Jose, California
posts: 1,223
reviews: 8
10. Re: Point Lobos - hiking, parking, general tips

I don't know if this is possible for you but I'll throw it out there. Rents bikes. Even if you have to park a mile or 2 away, it's a pretty short bike ride. Plus you can bypass the line of cars and just ride on in for free. I've done this and it's pretty fun to pass all those cars, ride right up to any trail head, lock up you bikes and hike the trail.