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Point Loma Tidepools and Bluff Trail

Cabrillo National Monument, California

The bluffs and tidepools of California’s southern coast combine to create a spectacular landscape, and one of the easiest places to access this scenery is along the 1.2 mile Point Loma Tidepools and Bluff Trail at Cabrillo National Monument. The hike explores the western shore of the promontory—passing rock outcrops, crashing waves, rocky bluffs, and tidepools. From the parking area at the end of Cabrillo Road, follow the signed path along the upper route—skirting the edge of the 400-foot cliffs. As you make your way down towards the seashore, enjoy the plant communities of Point Loma—coastal sage succulent scrub, southern coastal bluff scrub, southern maritime chaparral, and southern foredune scrub are al represented—some of the few remaining protected stands of this ecotype. Descending from the bluffs, take note of the scalloped coastline—a marvel of erosion—that creates a beautiful backdrop to the abundant stands of sea purslane and sea figs. After viewing the wildflower blooms, we made our way to the terraced rock shelves that provide access to the tidepools at low tide—do not attempt to explore the pools at any time other than low tide. Trails descend from the wave-carved cliffs to the rocky intertidal zone, where you can investigate the coves, inlets, and tidepool inhabitants—look for sea anemone, bat stars, limpets, barnacles, shore crabs, and sea hares. Remember, the survival of this rare community depends on you—do not disturb or remove any plants or animals. As you retrace your steps back to your car, watch for gray whales—their spouts are often spotted offshore as they migrate to their Arctic summer feeding grounds during January and February.

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