Cowell-Purisima Trail

Cowell Ranch© William Matthias

Cowell RanchClick on the map to download
the trail PDF

Managed by: POST

Location: Just south of Half Moon Bay; northern trailhead is approximately 3 miles south of the intersection of Highway 1 and Route 92.

Hours: 8 a.m. to sunset, weekends and holidays.

Fees: None

Trail Difficulty: Easy with one steep section

Things to See and Do: POST and the State Coastal Conservancy opened this 3.6 mile section of the California Coastal Trail on July 21, 2011. The trail offers spectacular views of the ocean and the gently sloping foothills of the Santa Cruz Mountains.

The northern end of the trail begins above a small state-managed pocket beach at Cowell State Beach and continues southward across three bridges and past rich, productive farm fields to a bluff-top overlook. The trail is open to hikers and cyclists and, with the exception of a section that passes through the steep banks of Purisima Creek, is accessible to wheelchairs.

Under the terms of county and state permit approvals, horses and dogs are not allowed because of food-safety concerns related to the adjacent farm fields. Parking and restroom facilities are located at both ends of the trail, and interpretive signs provide visitors with information about surrounding natural and cultural resources and the adjacent farming operation.

Keep Your Eyes Open For: Harbor seals, pelicans, hawks and wildflowers.

Directions: From the intersection of Highway 1 and Route 92 in Half Moon Bay, go south on Highway 1 for approximately 3 miles until you see the Cowell Ranch Beach parking lot on your right. This parking lot at the north end of the trail. To reach the parking lot at the south end of the trail, continue a little more than 3 miles and turn in to the right.