Hours will be extended for the Cowell-Purisima Trail just south of Half Moon Bay on the San Mateo Coast beginning this Saturday, according to Peninsula Open Space Trust (POST). Through Jan. 5, 2014, the trail will be open daily from 8 a.m. to sunset.
POST and the Coastal Conservancy opened this 3.6-mile section of the California Coastal Trail for public use in July 2011. Since then, it has become a popular destination for outdoor recreation on the San Mateo Coast.
The Conservancy funded the trail’s construction as well as the first three years of operation, monitoring and maintenance, all of which have been managed by POST. Due to dwindling public funds, operating hours were scaled back in fall 2012 to weekends and federal holidays to make the most efficient use of remaining monies and to prevent the trail from closing entirely.
“In recognizing the incredible recreational resource this trail provides to the community, we seized upon an opportunity to provide additional hours this winter while we continue to seek funding sources to maintain public access to the trail and our incredible San Mateo Coastside," said POST President Walter T. Moore.
The northern end of the trail begins at Cowell State Beach, originally protected by POST in 1987 through a partnership with the Conservancy and State Parks. The trail continues southward across three bridges and past rich, productive farmland to a bluff-top overlook. Parking and restroom facilities are located at both ends of the trail, and interpretive signs provide visitors with information about surrounding natural and cultural resources and the adjacent farming operation. The trail offers spectacular views of the ocean and the gently sloping foothills of the Santa Cruz Mountains. Visible from the trail are offshore rocks, inaccessible pocket beaches, and a harbor seal haul-out area.
The trail is open to hikers and cyclers. With the exception of a section that passes through the steep banks of Purisima Creek, the trail is also wheelchair-accessible. Under the terms of county and state permit approvals, horses and dogs are not allowed because of food-safety concerns related to adjacent farm fields.