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Best of San Diego: Hiking Point Loma at Cabrillo National Monument

Perhaps one of the biggest advantages of living in the San Diego area is that we have access to numerous hiking trails and gorgeous outdoor scenery. While there are plenty of options if you want to step outside and get a bit of exercise, Point Loma is one of our favorites. Here’s why.

About Cabrillo National Monument

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As you may know, Cabrillo National Monument is the sole such National Park-designated property in San Diego. It was created to memorialize Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo’s original West Coast landing back in 1542. This National Monument includes several key features: tide pools, the Point Loma Lighthouse, an information center with gift shop, several hiking trails, guided tours and a majestic statue of the explorer. You can drive into Cabrillo National Monument, then decide which areas you’d like to visit and which trails you’d prefer to hike. It is located just beyond the naval base and Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery.

What We Love Best About Point Loma

If breathtaking scenery is what you are seeking, it’s hard to beat the hiking trails to Point Loma, which follow a brief portion of the Pacific Ocean coastline. A trip to Point Loma can easily encompass an entire day’s worth of activities, starting with a lovely hike and ending with a trip to the sea caves to explore tide pools. Weekdays are obviously less busy, but if your only chance to visit is on a weekend, arrive as early as possible.

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As far as accessing a beach for swimming or sunbathing, Point Loma is not it. Instead, you will find tide pools that reveal their unique collection of near shore creatures at low tide, lit by the golden and russet hues of a San Diego sunset. If large mammals are more your thing, be sure to view the Whale Watch Overlook.

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Head for one or all of the walking trails that follow the bluffs on the monument’s west side. That is also where you will find the historic and now defunct Point Loma Lighthouse, a well-preserved 1855 building which includes the keeper’s residence. The culmination of the trail ends at the big stone statue dedicated to Cabrillo. Along the way, gorgeous and long-ranging views of Coronado Island, the navy base, San Diego’s skyline and downtown and even old Mexico inspire moments to stop and take in the scope of varied scenery. The Bayside Trail is your best chance for spotting wildlife – an anomaly in a large urban area such as San Diego – and an expansive view of San Diego Bay.

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An additional bonus is that if you are a history buff, you can tour an authentic WWII bunker every second and fourth Saturday of the month and a military history exhibit that covers the role played by Point Loma in both World Wars.

Cabrillo National Monument/Point Loma is representative of some of the best places locally to find gorgeous scenery, history, native wildlife and get in a healthy hike or two – and that’s why we count it as one of our personal favorites.

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