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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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Park Information

The steep coastal bluffs of Pillar Point just north of Half Moon Bay offer some of the best views on the entire coastline. This public treasure was nearly lost to development before POST stepped in to preserve the land in 2004. Explore this iconic destination by taking a walk on the Jean Lauer Trail, named in memory of a former POST staffer who deeply loved this stretch of the coast.

Watch for:

Soaring pelicans, cormorants, gulls and hawks. If you're lucky, you might spot migrating gray, minke, humpback or blue whales just off the coast.

Our Favorite Walk at Pillar Point

Distance: 1.4-mile loop

Elevation change: Flat

Hiking time: 1 hour

Trail surface: Packed dirt, fully exposed

Best season: All year

Parking lot location: Click here for directions

San Mateo County Parks logo.Though we try to keep this page accurate, please see the County of San Mateo website before visiting for the latest information.


The Jean Lauer Trail winds through the windswept bluffs of Pillar Point, just north of Half Moon Bay. As part of the California Coastal Trail, it’s an important link in a trail system that will one day extend the length of state’s entire coastline. It also provides one of the best vantage points for the world-famous Mavericks surf break, where winter swells create some of the largest rideable waves on the planet.

This dog-friendly (on-leash) trail is ADA-compliant with a hard, dirt-packed surface. We recommend parking at the Pillar Point Bluff parking area where there is ample parking and a wheelchair accessible restroom.

From there, the trail crosses a seasonal wetland before ascending to the top of the bluffs. Stay right (north) to stay on the ADA-compliant part of the trail, which continues along the service road until intersecting with Bernal Road. Retrace your steps or follow one of the many additional trails (not ADA-compliant) on foot to complete a loop before returning to the parking area.

The Backstory

POST first began our work at Pillar Point Bluff with the purchase of 119 acres in 2004. Then, in 2007 and 2008, we bought two more parcels that totaled 21 acres. All three were purchased from absentee landowners who planned to develop the bluff into luxury hotels, homes, or golf courses.

Pillar Point Bluff exemplifies the multi-dimensional work that POST does to protect and care for our beloved local landscapes. As a result, we have learned a lot about three P’s: public input, partnerships, and patience. These properties have since been transferred to San Mateo County Parks for permanent management and protection as public assets.

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