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What you need to know

Location Activities

  • Hiking
  • Dogs
  • Horses
  • Fishing
  • Biking
  • Camping
  • Handicap Accessibility
  • Swimming
  • Beach
  • Photo Op
  • Redwood
  • Waterfall
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Trail Information

This is by far one of POST’s staffs' most cherished trails. The views of the Pacific, pastoral settings and gentle grades make it one of the most enjoyable experiences on the entire California coast. Part of the California Coastal Trail and permanently protected by POST in 1988, it will forever remain a public asset.

You'll find this coastal gem just a short drive south of Half Moon Bay. The trail is mostly flat and almost entirely wheelchair accessible, making it ideal for everyone.

Watch for:

Wildflowers, pelicans, hawks, migrating whales and harbor seals on the rocks below.

Explore the Trail

Distance: 7.2 miles round trip

Elevation change: Flat

Hiking time: 2 hours

Trail surface: Gravel, fully exposed

Best season: All year

Managing agency: San Mateo County Parks

Parking lot location: Click here for directions

This trail is approximately 3.6 miles from one end to the other, winding along the bluffs with views of the ocean. There is parking available at both the northern and southern ends, and the difficulty of the trail from either end is roughly the same.

Take a detour to Cowell Ranch Beach, a beautiful spot accessible by a short side trail close to the northern trailhead. The beach’s remoteness keeps it free of large crowds even in the summer months.


Wheelchair accessibility:
Most of this trail is wheelchair accessible with the exception of some steep terrain in the middle where the trail crosses Purisima Creek. It’s a short section of trail, but the grade there is steep and not suitable for wheelchairs. We recommend that those in wheelchairs pick an end of the trail (north or south) and make an out-and-back trip to this point, unless assistance is available to safely make it up and down this grade. Note that the southern trailhead has a wheelchair accessible bathroom and a space for a full-sized van.

The Backstory

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, but POST stepped up and protected this land in 1988. Since that time, POST has partnered with the California State Coastal Conservancy, landowners, farmers and others to build this trail. Today, the trail and spectacular beaches are part of the California State Parks system for all to enjoy.

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