Walk the Whale Trail Saturdays at Point Cabrillo

March 12th, 19th, 26th, April 2nd, 9th, 2022

One of the best whale-watching spots on the Mendocino Coast is the Point Cabrillo Light Station State Historic Park, just north of the village of Mendocino. The Lighthouse is situated on the furthest west bluff along Highway 1 in Mendocino County, making it an excellent location to spot the Gray Whales that swim past every year.

Synopsis: Every Saturday from March 12 – April 9 at Point Cabrillo Light Station, there will be volunteers along the bluffs to loan out binoculars and help point out the migrating Gray Whales passing by. These Whale Celebration Saturdays are from 11am – 3pm, and there will also be three walking tours to choose from on those Saturdays too.

Photo from Sarah Flaim

These magnificent creatures start their northern migration from the lagoons of Baja, Mexico to their summer feeding grounds in the Arctic Ocean. Every spring, they migrate over 6,000 miles with their newly born calves in order to feed all summer in the nutrient-rich waters of the Arctic.

If you find yourselves on the Mendocino Coast, come down and walk the Whale Trail at Point Cabrillo Light Station State Historic Park. This half-mile paved walk is lined with interesting questions about Eastern Pacific Gray Whale that are answered once you arrive at your destination, the Point Cabrillo Lighthouse. You can walk this trail alone, or join us for one of our guided walks on Saturdays. (see below)

Check out the Whale Trail at the Point Cabrillo Lighthouse.

Once you arrive at the headlands, there will be volunteers available from 11am – 3pm to help you spot the migrating whales, as well as answer your questions about the marine mammals we see offshore in Northern California. Bring a picnic, bring the family, bring your binoculars, and spend the day watching the whales!

Bird Walks Every Saturday at 9am

March 12, 19, 26, April 2, 9, 2022

For early risers, each Saturday will begin with a 9am birding walk, led by members of the local Mendocino Coast Audubon Society. Bring your own binoculars or borrow a pair from Point Cabrillo so you can spot the hawks and herons, swallows and sparrows that make Point Cabrillo Light Station State Historic Park their home.

Meet at the parking lot on Point Cabrillo Drive at 9am for the bird walks, and don’t forget to wear layers and walking shoes!
Plan for a 1/2 mile to 1 mile long walk for about 1 hour.

Walking Tours Every Saturday at 11am

March 12, 19, 26, April 2, 9, 2022

Point Cabrillo will be hosting a walking tour each Saturday at 11am. These walking tours can cover everything from Gray Whales to Mendocino history to the ghost town of Pine Grove, so be sure to let the volunteer docent know what you and your family are interested in learning more about.

Meet at the parking lot on Point Cabrillo Drive at 11am.
Plan for a 1/2 mile to 1 mile long walk for 30-45 minutes.

History Walking Tours Every Saturday at 1pm

March 12, 19, 26, April 2, 9, 2022

For those of you planning an afternoon visit to Point Cabrillo Light Station State Historic Park, you won’t want to miss our history tours starting at 1pm! These tours will start from the Lighthouse itself, and cover Mendocino Coast history with a focus on the 1850 wreck of the Frolic clipper ship, the story that marks a huge turning point in Northern California history.

Meet at the Point Cabrillo Lighthouse at 1pm.
Plan for a 1/2 mile to 1 mile long walk for 30-60 minutes.

Photo from Sarah Flaim

Saturdays at Point Cabrillo

Every Saturday from March 12 – April 9, Point Cabrillo Light Station docents will be stationed along the bluffs, pointing out the Gray Whales that pass our coastline, and answering questions from our visitors. These knowledgeable volunteers will be outside the lighthouse from 11am – 3pm every Saturday, loaning out binoculars and connecting with visitors.

Our gift shop and museums are open every day of the year from 11am – 4pm, and our docents are just as happy to talk about lighthouse history as they are to talk about marine mammals.

Point Cabrillo Lighthouse on a blue sky day.

About Gray Whales

The whales migrating past Point Cabrillo belong to the Eastern Pacific Gray Whale population. While the population has recovered in numbers since hunting was banned by international agreements in 1937, a continuing unusual mortality event in the last three years has caused a reduction in the population from approximately 25,000 individuals to roughly 20,000, with fewer calves being seen in the Baja lagoons.

Most members of the Eastern Pacific Gray Whales pass by Point Cabrillo twice: once on their southward journey from November to March, and again northward as early as February and as late as May. Newly pregnant females lead the northward migration, followed by males, and the last to leave Baja are usually females with newborn calves.

Directions to the Light Station

The Point Cabrillo Light Station State Historic Park is two miles north of Mendocino and six miles south of Fort Bragg on the Northern California coast. Take the Point Cabrillo Drive exit from Hwy 1 and follow the signs. The Lighthouse is an easy half-mile walk from the parking area. Handicapped parking is available near the lighthouse. Bring warm, windproof clothing and your own binoculars.

The Point Cabrillo Light Station State Historic Park is a unit of the California Department of Parks and Recreation. The light station is managed by the Point Cabrillo Lightkeepers Association, in cooperation with California State Parks. For additional information, please call the Point Cabrillo Light Station offices at 707-937-6123.