Hike Date: July 20, 2009
Distance: ~ 3 miles
Trail(s): Año Nuevo Point Trail, Cove Beach Trail, New Years Creek Trail
Where’s it at? Off Hwy 1 on the Pacific Coast south of Half Moon Bay


Año Nuevo is a State Park located south of Half Moon Bay in San Mateo County. It is also a great place to look at earthquake activities and a faultline. This is a great place to view wildlife including the elephant seal and sea lion. In fact Año Nuevo is the world’s largest breeding area for elephant seals and it is probably the reason that most visitors journey to this park.

The elephant seal breeding season is December through March, and during these months you usually have to make reservations and are not allowed to take guided tours. Definitely check in on the official sites for the park before visiting during this time of year. I tried to visit during breeding season in 2011 but by early February every single date I could go was already fully booked, so plan ahead!

I believe you will still see elephant seals here year-round. This adventure was in July and there were plenty of them there. A docent told me that this was just after the mulching time, where they shed their old coats, and this was clear in the smell and amount of hair located around the trails as I approached the beaches.

The park is small so it’s a good idea to just explore the whole thing. There’s a visitor center, trails along Sand Dunes that get you closest to the island (which is cool!), and a couple good overlooks for the elephant seals. There’s also along the southern end a beach that you can walk down to and relax on which also offers excellent vantage points for viewing the thrust fault activity.

Photos from Año Nuevo (click to enlarge)

Hiking with Elephant seals at Ano Nuevo Hiking with Elephant seals at Ano Nuevo Hiking with Elephant seals at Ano Nuevo
Hiking with Elephant seals at Ano Nuevo Hiking with Elephant seals at Ano Nuevo Hiking with Elephant seals at Ano Nuevo
Hiking with Elephant seals at Ano Nuevo Hiking with Elephant seals at Ano Nuevo Hiking with Elephant seals at Ano Nuevo
Hiking with Elephant seals at Ano Nuevo Hiking with Elephant seals at Ano Nuevo Hiking with Elephant seals at Ano Nuevo
Hiking with Elephant seals at Ano Nuevo Hiking with Elephant seals at Ano Nuevo Hiking with Elephant seals at Ano Nuevo
Hiking with Elephant seals at Ano Nuevo Hiking with Elephant seals at Ano Nuevo Hiking with Elephant seals at Ano Nuevo

Directions to Año Nuevo State Reserve


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