Cabrillo National Monument was set up for two reasons - to preserve its historic lighthouse and associated structures, and protect some of the best tide pools in southern California. The Tide Pools Trail take you from a cliff top down to these pools.
High surf and rip tides can pose significant hazards. There is also no drinking water along this trail or at the trailhead. Although the trail is short, in summer it is easy to get dehydrated. Carry water. Jellyfish can be present in the pools - be cautious.
The trail starts in the parking lot behind the Coast Guard Installation. There is an interpretive kiosk at the trailhead that tells about some of the animals you can find in the tide pools, and how you can protect them. The trail is barked and continues across the cliff top for a short distance and then drops down to a sandy ledge above the beach. From there you need to find a route down to the beach itself. The routes down are not difficult but change depending on the tides so they are not described in detail. Check with the rangers about tides so you can figure out if there are likely to be lots of pools with animals, or very few. Once you are down on the beach, there are many pools that you can explore. Be very careful as you make your way to the different locations - some of the rocks will be wet and mossy. In addition the animals of the tide pools are fragile. Take care that you do not walk on the fragile organisms that are the reason for the trail in the first place! The organisms, like anemones, starfish, crabs, and fish, have been decreasing in numbers in recent years - your participation is important to the protection of this resource. Don't handle, disturb, or harass any of the creatures you encounter.
You are free to wander up and down the beach at will, though at the south end of the beach there is a section that is closed to the public to study how tide pools recover from visitation. Do not pass the fence line. When you have finished exploring, return to the trail and your car by the same route you came in.
None allowed. The tide pools close at 4:30pm daily.