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Cowell-Purisima Trail

EASY 159 reviews

Cowell-Purisima Trail is a 7 mile heavily trafficked out and back trail located near Half Moon Bay, California that features beautiful wild flowers and is good for all skill levels. The trail is primarily used for walking, trail running, nature trips, and fishing and is accessible year-round.

Distance: 7.0 miles Elevation Gain: 400 feet Route Type: Out & Back

wheelchair friendly

kid friendly

stroller friendly


nature trips






wild flowers


no dogs

The southern portion of this country road trail is only open on the weekends and Federal holidays.

2 months ago

No shade, but the weather the many times I have been here has been mild and there’s always that ocean breeze. This is one of my favorite things to do on my yearly trip to this area.

no shade
3 months ago

Nice easy trail, great views of ocean, no shade, bring hat and lots of water on sunny day

5 months ago

Well marked, easy out and back. Amazing scenery, mostly level along farmlands and coastal cliffs

5 months ago

Biking & hiking allowed. No dogs or horses. Wide gravel path. Lots of wildflowers and bunnies. Pretty farmlands on east side of path; intermittent views of ocean and its cliffs on west side. Lots of wildflowers. Did not see any poison oak.

5 months ago

Easy bike, beautiful coastal views. Packed a lunch and ate it at the beach before returning back down the same trail.

no shade
8 months 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.

8 months 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.

8 months 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!

9 months ago

Great strolling trail

9 months ago

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!

This is a fun, easy trail along the coast, with great views of the Pacific Ocean. After a straightaway that leads toward the coast, the trail turns toward the right (northward) and follows the coast the rest of the way. There are no obstacles, and the trail is wide for most of the way, making the route a good option for hikers of all skill levels and ages.

11 months ago

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

Sat Nov 24 2018

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

mountain biking
Thu Nov 01 2018

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.

Tue Oct 09 2018

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

Sat Oct 06 2018

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

Sun Apr 29 2018

So beautiful

Mon Feb 19 2018

Trail is easy! Beautiful views of the ocean!

road biking
Sun Feb 04 2018

Awesome! Nice view!

Sun Jan 21 2018

Beautiful views of the coastline!

Mon Dec 11 2017

Beautiful views of the cliffs

Thu Oct 12 2017

Beautiful view

Wed Oct 11 2017

Note that the southern portion of this country road trail is only open on the weekends and Federal holidays. We started at the southern entrance of the trail by "Bob's" farm stand. As you proceed north toward Cowell Beach (one the best looking beaches in Northern California), you find yourself on a high bluff. To the left (west) you hear the waves breaking on the rocks below. You only have a peek-a-boo view of the ocean and steep cliffs due to the brush and weeds. Be extremely careful if you try to obtain better views of the Pacific as it is long way down if you should slip. To the right (east) of the country road trail is the agricultural side that is bordered by a wire fence. You have peaceful views of beef cattle, rusty vintage farm equipment, pumpkin patches, and the costal crops of Brussels sprouts, and artichokes. You will also walk past large hedges of poison oak. Overhead look for brown pelicans as they seem to fly at eye level due to the updrafts of the cliffs. This mostly level trail of slightly more than six miles round trip provides an adequate work out. You walk on three newly built bridges over steep gullies. The day of our hike (Sunday, October 8, 2017) the trail was lightly traveled, but there were many large events occurring in the Bay Area that weekend. Because you are walking on a high bluff by the ocean be aware that there is a constant breeze here even when the "coast is clear". Excellent signage on the trail concerning Native Americans, farming, wildlife, and history are to be found. At the end of the trail you are rewarded with spectacular views of Cowell Beach. For those with energy one can climb down a wooden staircase to this wide open wonderful beach. The San Mateo coast is breathtaking in its beauty. Maybe we should keep it a secret?

Sat Oct 07 2017

Trail was closed today. The only sign posted was at the north parking lot along the trail to the bluff overlook. The sign said due to funding that the trail will not be consistently open. Wish that was on the website as well. the North parking lot was open and you can hike out to the bluff then down to the ocean and beach. The north gate for the trail was locked. The parking lot for the south gate was locked. The hike out to the bluff and down to the ocean and beach was beautiful. Not many people present but definitely a well used trail. Would do that hike again.

Tue Aug 29 2017

Beautiful, relaxing, easy walking

Tue Aug 15 2017

No dogs and the trail is closed.

Sun Aug 06 2017

If you are looking for an easy trail, with ocean views & light traffic, this is a good option. Did it with a 4-months pregnant friend and she was fine. The only downside is a lack of available parking at the North end of the trail. We had to park on the street 1/2 mile up on Miramontes Point Rd and walk back down to the parking lot/trail head on the shoulder of a busy road. Though when we left, I also saw that people parked just outside the lot on the shoulder of Hwy 1.

Tue Dec 27 2016

Great trail, beautiful views, wonderful beach at the turnaround.

Tue Oct 25 2016

Nice little trail that was built about 5-6 years ago when I lived very close to the northern end of the trail. I don't remember if dogs are allowed or not even though I did ti with mine regularly. I lived on the other side of the golf course and walked through from the house and into private land that hooked up to the trail. There is another path thats hooks up on the north end as well. Incredible views of the ocean and stairs down to the beach on the north. The beach is decent for perch, stripers in season and smelt, all of which I did there at times.

7 hours ago

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