Cowell-Purisima Trail Hike Information

The Cowell-Purisima 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 beach and continues south across three bridges and past rich, productive farm fields to a bluff-top overlook.

Watch for:

Keep your eyes open for harbor seals, pelicans, hawks and wildflowers along the way.

Activities

  • Hiking
  • No Dogs
  • No Horses
  • No Fishing
  • Biking
  • No Camping
  • Not Handicap Accessible
  • No Swimming

Hike map

Download the map here

About the Cowell-Purisima Trail

This trail is best done as a 7.2-mile out-and-back hike, starting from either trailhead. There is beach access only at the Northern beach.

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. 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. This trail is currently open on weekends and holidays.

Directions to the Cowell-Purisima Trail Hike

From the intersection of Highway 1 and Route 92 in Half Moon Bay, go south on Highway 1 for approximately two miles until you see the Cowell Ranch Beach parking lot on your right. This parking lot is 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. At the south end of the trailhead straight down the path leading from the parking lot; turn left, and check out the scenic lookout or head right to start the trail. There are also restrooms available at the parking lot.

More about the Cowell-Purisima Trail

More about the Cowell-Purisima Trail POST partnered with the California State Coastal Conservancy, landowners, farmers and others to build this trail. The Cowell Ranch, once owned by the Cowell Family, was put on the market in 1985 to raise funds for the Cowell Family Foundation. Developers were eager to acquire it – as was POST. POST completed the purchase in 1988. Today, the trail and spectacular beaches here are part of the California State Parks system.

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