Half Moon Highroller

Cowell-Purisima Trail in Half Moon Bay

For an easy bike ride with enormous coastal views, head a few miles south of Half Moon Bay. The Cowell-Purisima Trail stretches for 3 sea-breezy miles along high coastal bluffs. You can thank the Peninsula Open Space Trust and State Coastal Conservancy, who put in a 25-year effort to secure this open space for the public.

The wide gravel-and-dirt trail gently rolls along the edge of the continent: to the east is farmland and to the west is a 100-foot cliff dropping off to uninterrupted views of the roiling Pacific. Watch for harbor seals swimming or lounging on rocks, their only natural predator being the great white sharks that share these waters. Giant brown pelicans and red-tail hawks cruise overhead. The trail is mostly flat, with only one real up-and-down at Purisima Creek, which was home to an Ohlone village thousands of years ago.

Gallery image 1 of 2
Gallery image 2 of 2

The trail ends at Cowell Ranch Beach—a fantastic crescent hike-in (or bike-in) respite tucked away from the rest of the world by hulking cliffs. Enjoy the ocean air, keep on the lookout for passing gray whales, and return the way you came. Cowellbunga!

Drive south on Hwy. 1 passing the turn-off for the Ritz Carlton. In less than a mile you’ll see the parking area for Cowell Ranch Beach. We recommend continuing south on Hwy. 1 for 3 miles and starting at the southern parking area. Park and ride the trail for 3.5 miles to Cowell Ranch Beach. No dogs.

Trending Stories Northern CA

View all Stories
  1. Image that represents the story

    Tam Slam!

    This 8-mile (round-trip) hike is a pure classic, with redwoods, water-flows, and soaring views of the coastline. Oh yeah, and that ladder!

    View
  2. Image that represents the story

    Easiest Best Hike in the World

    Choose the easiest and most view-rewarding hike in Yosemite. Okay, we’ll go first: the combination of hiking to Sentinel Dome and Taft Point. Both of these lookouts are within a couple miles of each other on Glacier Point Road

    View
  3. Image that represents the story

    Nice Ring to It

    This tiny but mighty open space preserve on the Tiburon Peninsula can often exhibit a wide range of wildflowers late into the season, not to mention one of the most jaw-dropping views of the bay.

    View
  4. Image that represents the story
    Sponsored

    Road Trip Ahead: Oregon Outback

    Remote open spaces, camping under true Dark Skies, hiking and biking trails galore, wildlife refuges, and hot springs! Plan your road trip to the Oregon Outback this summer.

    View

Trending Stories SoCal

View all Stories
  1. Image that represents the story

    Bouquet of Waterfalls

    Like a good love letter, some of the best hiking trails are short and sweet. Cue the hike to Bouquet Falls in Santa Clarita Valley’s Bouquet Canyon.

    View
  2. Image that represents the story
    Sponsored

    Road Trip Ahead: Oregon Outback

    Remote open spaces, camping under true Dark Skies, hiking and biking trails galore, wildlife refuges, and hot springs! Plan your road trip to the Oregon Outback this summer.

    View
  3. Image that represents the story

    Dripping History

    Historical hideout, hidden hollow, rustlers’ retreat. Whatever you want to call Dripping Cave in Laguna Nigel, it is truly a cool, compelling cavern. To reach the grandiose grotto, take a 5-mile (round-trip) out-and-back hike in Aliso and Wood Canyons Wilderness Park, a 4,50…

    View
  4. Image that represents the story

    New Rules of the Trail

    As some parks around California begin to re-open, we came up with tips for being responsible on your outdoor adventures. Let’s do our part so we can all keep enjoying the parks.

    View