More Cowell Bell!

Hike or Bike Cowell-Purisma Trail near Half Moon Bay

Crashing waves, salty air, greenery, and enormous coastal views: Biking or hiking the 6.6-miles of the Cowell-Purisima bluffs will leave you feeling spring fresh! Just a few miles south of Half Moon Bay, the Cowell-Purisma Trail stretches for 3 sea-breezy miles along high coastal bluffs. You can thank the Peninsula Open Space Trust (POST) and State Coastal Conservancy for securing this open space.

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.

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The trail is mostly flat, with only one real up-and-down at Purisima Creek as you near Purisma Farms. The trail ends at Cowell Ranch State Beach—a fantastic crescent hike-in (or bike-in) haven. It’s the only place on the trail where you’ll get beach access, via a wooden staircase. Enjoy this respite tucked away from the rest of the world by hulking cliffs. Cowellbunga!

The trail is only open on weekends and holidays due to limited public funding, and parking is free, so the lot fills quickly (there’s street parking northbound on Hwy. 1). 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 State Beach. We recommend continuing south on Hwy. 1 for 3 miles and starting at the southern parking area. Park, and then ride the trail for 3.5 miles to Cowell Ranch Beach. No dogs.

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