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About 35 miles south of San Francisco, the Cowell-Purisima Trail offers a beautiful escape into nature which can be enjoyed by both walkers and bicyclists. Travelers in wheelchairs can also access the northern 2 miles of the trail, but it becomes steep once it reaches Purisima Creek. Also, keep an eye out for occasional patches of deeper gravel that may be more difficult to navigate. Horses and dogs are not permitted on the trail.
Beginning from the Cowell Ranch Beach Access, the gravel trail runs just over 3 miles south along the coast, providing sweeping views of the Pacific Ocean and the the Santa Cruz Mountains. (If you want to head down to the beach, look for a steep wooden staircase near the northern end of the trail.) Be sure to look for wildlife, like harbor seals, whales, pelicans, hawks and cormorants. Interpretive panels along the way describe these animals, as well as the surrounding plantlife and local history.
At its southern end, the trail splits; continue along the coast to reach an overlook of Seal Rock, or turn away from the ocean to reach the parking lot at the end of the trail.
Parking and restrooms are available at both the northern and southern ends of the trail. On the northern end, look for the Cowell Ranch Beach parking area off Highway 1, just south of Dehoff Canyon Road. The southern parking lot is also off Highway 1, just south of Verde Road.
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