Explore the most popular trails in Half Moon Bay State Beach with hand-curated trail maps and driving directions as well as detailed reviews and photos from hikers, campers and nature lovers like you.

walking

beach

kid friendly

views

Just off Highway One in Half Moon Bay, four small beaches stretching south from Montara Mountain form the gentle two-mile curve of fine, white sand that is Half Moon Bay State Beach. To the east the Santa Cruz Mountains frame a dramatic backdrop to this captivating north central coast region known to local residents as the “Coastside.” To the west the enduring Pacific rolls vigorously across the broad, flat beach. The breakwaters of Pillar Point to the north have a buffering effect on the surf, and the waters at this end of Half Moon Bay State Beach form a calm surf. This picturesque setting is ideal for sunbathing, fishing and picnicking. A campground provides accommodations for those who wish to visit longer. The Coastside weather pattern is typical of the north central coast, with cool morning fog and highs in the mid-60s during the summer. Spring and fall bring clear, crisp days, while wind and rain – broken by an occasional bright, sunny day - rule the winter months. Dressing in layers is recommended. Beach fires are not allowed, and dogs are prohibited on the beaches at all times. Dogs are permitted in the campground, in the day-use picnic areas, and on the Coastal Trail, provided they are controlled with a leash of no more than six feet at all times.

hiking
no shade
5 days ago

No shade but the weather is cool and foggy. Come early for parking or park at the street side.
Beach is scenic from the cliff. I didn’t go down to the beach.
Trail after the beach is not so exciting. Got lucky to see a rabbit on the trail though.

hiking
no shade
6 days ago

hiking
17 days ago

Easy trail for everyone of all ages. However, the trail was closed in the week day and open only during the weekends and holidays. We did see two groups of people on the closed trail. There were lots of flowers to be admire in the first days of Spring. We saw a couple of rabbits too. Overall, it’s a nice easy hike for everyone. Might need a hat when there is full sun. There isn’t much trees for shade.

hiking
no shade
18 days ago

Mostly paved, easy trail. Good views.

hiking
28 days ago

Super easy trail for a nice out and back. It wasn’t too crowded or heavily trafficked even though it was a Saturday afternoon during one of the first nice weekends in awhile. Views were gorgeous, trail was in pretty good condition, just a couple muddy spots that seemed to be still drying out-please stay on the trail even if you encounter mud!

hiking
no shade
1 month ago

hiking
1 month ago

Great strolling trail

From what I understand this is only open on the weekends and holidays. I got here super early and had the trails mostly to myself. Beautiful coastal views, saw sea lions out in the rocks in the water. Not too tough at all - quite leisurely, actually. Carved out enough time to enjoy myself and stop and take in the scenery. Would love to go again!

hiking
2 months ago

Easy and funny

hiking
2 months ago

Easy trail and good view. Sparse Pokémon stops and gym. Good way to relax yourself in the late afternoon.

2 months ago

We loved this trail! We were able to watch hawks and sea birds as well as seals.

on Poplar Beach Trail

3 months ago

Nice trail down cliffs to the beach at Poplar St end

Gorgeous views. Small parking, we came late afternoon on windy and cloudy day and parking was full.

hiking
3 months ago

Easy walk along the coastline. Stunning view. Highly recommended for those who want to relax and chill on the beach over the weekend. In addition, I found the asphalt trail boring so I took several small narrow trails close to the cliffs to enjoy the view and the breeze.

It’s a nice walk, but super flat and easy. If you’re looking for a nice stroll with a view this is fine, but if you’re looking for a challenging hike you’d be best to look elsewhere

Nice day trip for the dog and kids to run around! Had a wonderful time even with the overcast.

mountain biking
5 months ago

What seems to be missing in these reviews is that this section of the trail does, indeed, go through the Ritz Carlton and its golf course which is all paved, but also one can continue north and south. Going north from the Ritz Carlton, the official paved path goes across a bridge and heads north all the way through Half Moon Bay and above. The signage is scarce but the trail does go through. Heading south is a bit more interesting. Near the end of the golf course along the coast there is a sign that says "coastal trail ends" and immediately after that on the coast is the beginning of a well used flat and winding dirt trail (fine for hiking but best for mountain bikes) that runs along the bluffs (pretty close in places so not so great for young children) for a mile or so to the Cowell Ranch Beach and the start of the new Cowell -Purissima official trail which is only open on weekends and holidays under a deal reached with the local growers. This official trail continues south for miles and is great. The entrance is well gated closed on weekdays and not possible to go around. From the beach is a short road that leads to a good sized parking lot just off highway 1. So, going northwards from the parking lot one can go to the beach, head north on the unmarked dirt trail to the south end of the golf course, then onto the paved trail along the golf course and through the hotel property and continuing on the official trail to and past Half Moon Bay. My wife and I have ridden our mountain bikes and seen people hiking this way for years.

mountain biking
5 months ago

Ok, if you park in the parking lot just barely off Highway 1 a few miles south of Half Moon Bay, you can walk or bike this road to the beach overlook and go down to the beach . Nice views. From here you have 2 choices. On weekends and holidays you can head south for several miles on the cowell-purissima trail which is new and well constructed. The deal with the adjacent growers was to keep out the public on weekdays. The trail entrance is heavily gated here and not possible to go around. The second choice (not shown on maps and not signed) is to head north along the coast from where the trail starts just before the beach overlook all the way up to the Ritz Carlton golf course and Hotel where the trail continues (and is now official) through the Ritz Carlton and all the way through Half Moon Bay and above. This unmarked section of the trail is very heavily used, goes right along the bluffs (pretty close in places), is flat and beautiful, and takes you right to the beginning and into the official trail along the golf course.

hiking
6 months ago

very easy hike, beautiful location and views, some of the trail you can't see the beaches but most of the trail is right on the bluff, definitely recommend

Easy trail. Very calm and peaceful early in the am. Great views too.

road biking
6 months ago

The trail goes thru a golf course.... Ugghhhhh!

This is a great biking trail for a hot summer day.
The wild flowers are beautiful attracting multicolored butterflies and hummingbirds!

on Coastside Trail

road biking
7 months ago

I did single track biking and I had a great time but realized that it was a very short ride. Wish it would be longer.

trail running
7 months ago

Definitely allows dogs on leash the whole way. Great low grade and very well-managed trail if you want to clock some miles and be by the ocean pretty much the whole time. Can get pretty busy later in the day.

It is paved and goes mostly through a golf club. It was awful.

Fantastic trail, highly recommend as day getaway.

trail running
11 months ago

It was okay. Nice views but a paved and boring trail that goes through a golf course. Would probably go right at the parking lot instead of left if I come here again

hiking
11 months ago

From a hiking with children standpoint this is a fantastic trail. There are several parking lots in the area and each appears to have bathroom facilities. The trails are well maintained and a mix of dirt and pavement. The nice thing here is that you are never far from beach access or any of the smaller walking trails along the bluffs. This is great when the kids want to choose their own adventure. As of this writing the fee to enter and park is $10.00.

hiking
11 months ago

So beautiful

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Pretty little walk going past some lovely coastal views. Hang out by one of the beaches and watch the waves crashing onto boulders. Peaceful ♥️

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