PHOTOS: Virtual Tour of New Cowell-Purisima Trail

25 years in the making, the Cowell-Purisima Trail opened on Thursday, and Half Moon Bay Patch was there.

Three miles of new hiking trails were along the coastal bluffs south of Half Moon Bay.

The Peninsula Open Space Trust (POST) President Walter T. Moore, Coastal Conservancy Executive Director Sam Schuchat and representatives for Assemblyman Rich Gordon and Supervisor Don Horsley thanked the efforts of many volunteers, agencies and landowners that contributed to this long-awaited project's completion.

The project began 25 years ago with the purchase of a portion of the land.

"It wasn't until the late '90s that we had the whole stretch of trail to work with," said Moore. "Then there was funding challenges in the 2000s, then a freeze."

"Planning involves permits and placing easements on the surrounding lands to preserve the pastoral setting," Moore added. "An enormous amount of public input goes into these projects."

When asked about the possiblity of connecting the trail to the Coastal Trail at the north end, Moore was optimistic. "Long term, you can always hope," he said. "You put in segments and it gives you opportunity for the next segment."

A ribbon-cutting ceremony followed the scheduled remarks.

The trail will be maintained and monitored by Go Native Inc, a Bay Area habitat restoration company.

"We will monitor the trail, open and close the gates and do the maintenance for three years," said company owner Dave Sands. "Because this is ag land, there are no pets or horses permitted and we will monitor to prevent that."

There is no beach access south of Cowell Ranch Beach because of the protected harbor seal area.

Interpretive signs created by Wildways Illustrated are found along the path. The signs provide information about wildlife in the area and nearby agricultural activities.

The trail is open on a restricted schedule for the summer.

  • The north end from Cowell Beach to the second bridge is open on weekends but closed during the week from June to September due to agriculture operations.
  • The south end from the Purisma parking lot will be open to the south end of Purisma Creek. Work continues on the creek trail.
  • When complete, the entire trail will be open every day during the winter.

The photographs in the gallery to the right capture the ribbon-cutting ceremony and then follow the entire trail from north to south.

Richard Whitmarsh July 26, 2011 at 04:06 AM
Attempted to ride the trail today; MOST OF THROUGH TRAIL CLOSED; Trailhead gated off at the north end of the bluff, and access at the south end is limited to the stretch south of Purisima Creek.
Richard Whitmarsh July 26, 2011 at 11:03 PM
>>"The north end from Cowell Beach to the second bridge is open on weekends but closed during the week from June to September due to agriculture operations." Agricultural operations? Is anyone else curious about why this is? I mean...are we talking about A.) crossing paths with a tractor, or B.) being exposed to chemical fertilizer and pesti/herbi/fungicides?
Stuart Nafey July 27, 2011 at 04:43 AM
Thanks for the comments Richard. I didn't ask that detail, but I did walk the trail and saw active tractors, farm workers and irrigation equipment working in the fields. There are a few places where the farm roads intersect the trail. The Purisma Creek area still needs some work. I was told that the entire trail should be open everyday after September.
Richard Fox October 16, 2011 at 05:41 AM
I cycled most of the trail on a rainy October day which was my only opportunity to be in the area. It was very beautiful and I was thrilled that the trail was not too muddy, but when I returned to my vehicle I realized my bike, my pants, and the entire back of my jacket were coated with a concrete-like substance thrown up from the trail materials that took several soakings to get out. So... beware! I look forward to returning to the trail on a sunny, dry day!


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