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New Year Point Trail

EASY 100 reviews
#1 of 6 trails in

Ano Nuevo Point Trail is a 4.2 mile moderately trafficked loop trail located near Pescadero, California that features beautiful wild flowers and is good for all skill levels. The trail is primarily used for hiking, walking, nature trips, and birding and is accessible year-round.

4.2 miles
170 feet

kid friendly


nature trips


bird watching



wild flowers


no dogs

A hike out along ocean bluffs brings visitors to Año Nuevo Point, a major bird migratory route and fantastic birding location. Just offshore sits Año Nuevo Island and the remains of a 19th century lighthouse and fog signal station. The elephant seals at Año Nuevo State Reserve are not pretty, but they live pretty well. In fact, they're living out one of the world's greatest escapes from extinction. Things have been getting better for the elephant seals of the Pacific Coast in the century since humans stopped slaughtering them: Their population has recovered from hundreds to over a hundred thousand. Now thousands of northern elephant seals come to Año Nuevo and a few other beaches in California and Mexico to breed. Watching their reproductive antics is one of the best wildlife experiences available in California -- the closest you're likely to come to any large mammals as they go about their business of making babies. You'll be amazed at how many of elephant seals fill Año Nuevo at the height of the season. It'll look like a seal civilization, and you can learn all their laws on the guided tours. Breeding Season The cycle starts around Dec. 1 with open warfare between bulls to determine who wins the right to reproduce (Año Nuevo's beaches are closed to the public for the first two weeks of December to keep people out of the crossfire). After the bulls settle who's going to rule the beach for the next few months, the females show up in late December and gravitate to the alpha males, forming harems the dominant bulls will spend the next few months defending. Smaller bulls will hang around the edges of the harems, obliging the big guys to run them off -- watching two-ton beasts with no legs chase try to chase each other on land is one of nature's great comedy sketches. The females arrive ashore pregnant from last season's amorous adventures and mate after giving birth to their pups, which, fortunately, are about a thousand times cuter than their nose-dangling fathers. By the end of March most of the elephant seals have returned to sea, fattening themselves up to do it all again next winter. (Weather note: veteran elephant seal watchers advise that cool, cloudy days promise the best seal action -- they try to preserve energy on hot days but they're much more mobile on chilly ones). Molting Season In the summertime, elephant seals show up (in much smaller numbers) to shed their tough hide. You can find little bits of it along the sandy paths to the main viewing areas along the beach. Summer can be a much more pleasant time to visit Año Nuevo: no reservations required, no schedules to keep, warmer weather (providing the coast is not fogged in). The seals are much fewer in number but if you have binoculars or a camera with a good zoom lens, you can see them in isolation rather than in a massive colony. Most of the action is young males rehearsing for adult battles (think high school for behemoths).

4 days ago

We loved this trail. We hiked from the barn/information center on a very well maintained compacted sand trail with magnificent views of the cliffs and Pacific Ocean. A the Ranger's station about half way out (1 mile or so) a huge storm loomed off shore, we paused briefly and marched on. We were rewarded at the beach heads with about one hundred elephant seals resting, sunning, fighting and generally enjoying the day while they molted their winter coat. It was a bit wet on the dune portion of the trail because of big rainstorms the day before. But otherwise, this is a highly recommend!

12 days ago

Beautiful plants and scenery! Toward the north point it gets to be quite sandy.

26 days ago

The trail was well maintained, wide, and flat until you get to the sand part (about a mile I’d guess). This could be a great hike for those with limited mobility, in a chair, with walker or crutches. While not a long hike, the entire thing offers beautiful views of the ocean, great birdwatching, and during certain seasons, a chance to see elephant seals! A couple warnings: during the Elephant Seal mating season (January? To mid March), most of the trail is only accessible by guided tour. The tour is very informative but slowly paced— about three hours to cover two miles. Also, the sides of the trail have a lot of poison oak, so if you have a child who has a hard time not picking up sticks or who likes to walk on the fringes of the trail, you’ll want to consider if this trail is worth the risk.

3 months ago

Very friendly volunteers who provide info on the sea elephants! Nice views

5 months ago

We visited in July. It was an easy hike until the sand portion. I wasn’t prepared to walk in sand and didn’t wear appropriate shoes. It was hot and the sand was difficult to walk in. It was worth it when we were able to see and hear the elephant seals! It was near to learn about the house on the island, too!

6 months ago

Beautiful views

10 months ago

So beautiful. The docents are very nice and helpful. The elephant seals were fun snd we even saw whales the day we went. The trails are very well laid out. Just a joy.

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Really cool hike Dec-March you can’t do the whole hike unless you do the tour as it’s National season and males are aggressive. There are limited spots. I almost didn’t go but it was awesome! $7 for the tour and $10 for parking

Sunday, March 04, 2018

Amazing place. Gorgeous trail and views. If you go during Dec-March you will also enjoy views of elephant seals. Remarkable animals. Trail is easy, with some walks on sand dunes. My 6 year old had no issues

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Amazing area when the Elephant Seals are there...

Friday, October 06, 2017

My favorite place! December-March you need reservations, but it is well worth it seeing the nature channel IRL. other times of the year you can get a permit and do a self guided hike. Apart from the elephant seals, there is a lot of cultural, geological and other things to learn. A definite must if you live local or are visiting.

Friday, September 08, 2017

Really cool experience... at one point on the trail we look to our right and see elephant seals sleeping on the beach, and to our left toward the valley a deer...meanwhile snakes are slithering away through the dunes..very cool/beautiful/special place!!! Authentic California

Monday, August 28, 2017

beautiful morning stroll. fabulous, engaged docents out at the viewing platform. but brace yourself (and prep your boots) for that chunk of sand dune).

Monday, August 07, 2017

Was able To do this hike with my 18 month old son. We saw some elephant seals, which was the highlight of this hike

nature trips
Thursday, July 20, 2017

Great you see the elephant seals up close!

Saturday, July 08, 2017

This was a lot of fun. Be sure to get a Viewing Pass from the field house first before you go onto the trail. The first mile you will be in direct sun and wind. Be sure to wear sunscreen and have a jacket. After the "Boardwalk" area you'll have to navigate about .5 (round trip) of sand dunes to make it to the Bight Beach overlook (which is recommended over South Point. If you want to push forward to North Point it's about an extra mile round trip. Overall a very easy excursion. Bring water and prepare for sun and sand.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Perfect view, but part of the trail is sandy! So, be prepared to have full shoes of sand!

Wednesday, February 01, 2017

Was lucky enough to be here on New Years Day. It was surprisingly deserted as I arrived just at sunset. Beautiful walk. You can hear the sea lions as you near the cliffs. Definitely not strenuous. Potential to see wildlife (I had a few snakes slither out of my path)

Friday, December 30, 2016

Easy walk with great views, wildlife, and a nice beach. Great place to take visitors.

Friday, September 16, 2016

Awesome views on the stroll even without seeing the Elephant Seals. Doing the tour of the seals with a ranger is well worth it during the season as well.

Friday, September 19, 2014

awesome place.. great trip it was... love it

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Amazing place, fantastic experience

Monday, September 09, 2013

Nice beach. Gorgeous trail. Get there early and get your permit from the white building. Quite a way to go see the elephant seals they close the path a little after three.

Wednesday, July 04, 2012

This is by far one of the most beautiful trails I have ever crossed. The beach is amazing and the views are spectacular. My fianc and I got to see and hear the elephant seals. They are fun to watch and it's a real treat once you get to their mating grounds. We took really pretty pictures and the view of the coast is one you won't forget. My only warning is there are ticks out there, we found some on our clothes.

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Really nice hike, we did not run into anyone along this trail, we had it all to our selfs,the hike its self was fast & easy. next time we go back to this area i will take this trail again

Saturday, July 30, 2011

I hiked this trail last summer with my girlfriend, we spent the hole summer hiking up the coast of California and back down the central vally. This was one of the best trails we hit that summer. There was really no one on the trail, and a lot too see and take in in the peace full area that this trail goes threw

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

gud place for roaming

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

If everybody had an ocean, like Cali-four-ny-a... That's a great looking hike. I bet it's fun year round. Ahh to have a beach to walk beside. Consider yourself lucky. Excellent guide!!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

This is the place to see Elephant Seals; during the breeding season, December 15 through March 31, daily access to the park is available only via guided walks. You can also see rabbits, coyotes and deer in the park. The hike is through loose sand with views of the ocean. Its very scenic and a great place for a hike and picnic.

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

virtually....want to visit this spot :)

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