Sunday, February 8, 2015

Staircase hiking to Gibson Beach, surrounded by granite cliffs in Point Lobos State Park, California

California Central Coast: Gibson Beach in Point Lobos State Park
Gibson Beach below the Carmel Highlands

Gibson Beach in the Point Lobos State Natural Reserve is accessible via long staircases descending from granite cliffs downhill to a crescent-shaped beach. This “hidden” stretch of pure sand compliments the list of soft-sand beaches along the California Central Coast such as Asilomar State Beach and Carmel Beach, with sand derived by the erosion of Santa Lucia Granodiorite rocks.

Gibson Beach is reached from the Bird Rock parking area by hiking on Bird Island Trail along the granite cliffs for about a quarter of a mile to its T-junction with South Plateau Trail. From there, follow the direction given by the signpost (shown above) until you get to the posted beach access after a few yards. A long set of wooden stairs on the east side descend from the cliff edge to the sandy beach. Be aware that strong waves, especially during high tides, can sneak up on beachcombers and may briefly flood the whole beach. The long steep staircase is your only reasonable escape route towards higher grounds.

When a low surf line and a mild shorebreak promise a safe stay, Gibson Beach reveals itself as a peaceful place with a beautiful scenery. The pure sand, clear water and tall rocks turn this south-facing cove into a world of its own.

Getting to the Bird Rock parking area and trail
The signed Point Lobos State Reserve entrance next to Highway 1 is about two miles south of Carmel and 24 miles north from the Big Sur Ranger Station. From Highway 1 turn west to the entrance kiosk. Currently, the entrance fee is $10.00 per vehicle. Continue on the park road from the entrance station past the Sea Lion Point and Weston Beach parking lots to the road's dead-end, which is the Bird Rock parking area. The Bird Island Trail begins at the southeast end of the parking and picnic area.

More to explore:
Point Lobos State Natural Reserve: Bird Island Trail [].

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