Año Nuevo State Park is home to the largest mainland population of northern elephant seals in the world. There is also a great wheelchair accessible trail and a stunning beach.
Keep an eye out for migrating whales, sea lions, harbor seals, coyote, wildflowers and the endemic San Francisco garter snake.
Distance: 1.5 miles round trip
Elevation change: None
Hiking time: 1 hour
Trail surface: Gravel
Best Season: Fall, winter or early spring
Managing agency: California Department of Parks and Recreation
Parking lot location: Click here for directions
Overview: For an easy 1.5-mile stroll, follow the ADA-compliant Año Nuevo Point Trail along the coastal bluffs for roughly three quarters of a mile. Near the pond, a short spur trail descends to the surf at Cove Beach. Occasionally elephant seals are found here, but sightings are more seldom compared to the main colony on the western side of the park. Turn around when you reach the gated entrance of the Año Nuevo Coast Natural Preserve and retrace your steps back to the parking area.
The main elephant seal colony is within the Año Nuevo Coast Natural Preserve. You will need a permit to enter the preserve which are issued between 8:30 a.m. – 3:30 p.m. at the park entrance. Guided walks are also available during breeding season (December 15 to March 31), although reservations are encouraged for these tours as space is limited (call 1-800-444-4445).
POST assisted in the protection of much of the land with Año Nuevo State Park, from its coastal ranch land along Green Oaks Creek to its forest upland area. We have also protected much of the land in the surrounding area, including the 6,391-acre Cloverdale Coastal Ranch.