Cowell-Purisima Coastal Trail Hike Information

The Cowell-Purisima Coastal Trail offers spectacular views of the ocean and nearby farmland. The northern end of the trail begins above the state-managed Cowell Ranch Beach (where there is public access to the beach) and continues south across three bridges, 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.


  • Hiking
  • No Dogs
  • No Horses
  • No Fishing
  • Biking
  • No Camping
  • Handicap Accessible
  • No Swimming

Hike map

Download the map here

About the Cowell-Purisima Coastal Trail

This trail is best done as a 7.2-mile out-and-back hike, starting from either trailhead — marked as points A and B on the map below. Please note: there is only beach access at the northern trailhead.

The trail is open to hikers and cyclists; wheelchairs may access the trail except along a section that passes through the steep banks of Purisima Creek. 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 Coastal Trail Hike

Point A - North Trailhead (shown on this map): 
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 yellow gates and a sign for Cowell Ranch Beach on the right. Turn in to park in the lot. There are restrooms available at the parking lot. Hike on the Cowell Ranch Access route for about .5 mile, and you'll see the north trailhead of the Cowell-Purisima Coastal Trail.
Point B - South Trailhead: 
From the intersection of Highway 1 and Route 92 in Half Moon Bay, go south on Highway 1 for approximately five miles (past the North Trailhead) and you'll see a sign on the right for the Cowell-Purisima Coastal Trail. Turn in and park. There are also restrooms available at the parking lot. After you park, follow the path leading from the lot to the south end of the trailhead. Turn left and check out the scenic lookout or head right to start the 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.

Scroll to top