Cowell-Purisima Trail Cowell-Purisima Trail Cowell-Purisima Trail Several seals laying on the beach

Cowell-Purisima Trail, just south of Half Moon Bay, is a 3.6-mile gently graded path that winds along bluffs where farmland meets the Pacific Ocean. It’s a part of the California Coastal Trail, which will one day span the entire length of the state. This area contains both beach and coastal scrub ecosystems. Keep your eyes open for harbor seals, pelicans, hawks and wildflowers along your way. Learn more about the natural features of the area.

Parking is available at both the northern and southern trailheads. Cowell Ranch Beach may be accessed from a stairway located a half mile from the northern parking lot—the beach and northern parking lot are managed by California State Parks. All other beach access from Cowell-Purisima Trail is prohibited to protect sensitive marine mammals, including harbor seals. Poison oak, ticks, and other hazards are common in off-trail areas.

Most of this trail is double-wide with a compacted granite surface with the exception of some steep terrain in the middle where the trail crosses Purisima Creek. View accessibility details.

Park Information
18501 S. Cabrillo Hwy
Half Moon Bay, CA 94019Get Directions
Hours Trail Map


Cowell-Purisima Trail Nature Hike
August 14, 2024


  • No dogs
  • No drones
  • The trail borders a protected agricultural area. No trespassing is allowed.

View all regulations


The trail will be periodically closed for weather conditions, maintenance, and agricultural purposes. Please check this page or San Mateo County Parks social media for trail advisories.