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