Half Moon Bay Coastside Trail


11 Reviews

View Trail Map
View Map
Send to App

Register for free!

Register for free with TrailLink today!

We're a non-profit all about helping you enjoy the outdoors
  • View over 40,000 miles of trail maps
  • Share your trail photos
  • Save your own favorite trails
  • Learn about new trails near you
  • Leave reviews for trails
  • Add new and edit existing trails

Half Moon Bay Coastside Trail Facts

States: California
Counties: San Mateo
Length: 7.22 miles
Trail end points: 11820 Cabrillo Hwy N (Half Moon Bay) and 1001 Miramontes Point Rd. (Half Moon Bay)
Trail surfaces: Asphalt, Concrete, Dirt
Trail category: Rail-Trail
ID: 6132471

Half Moon Bay Coastside Trail Description


Visitors to the Half Moon Bay Coastside Trail, which traces a bluff overlooking the Pacific Ocean, will get a front-row seat to the sight of waves crashing onto the beach, whales migrating way out at sea, or a heartwarming sunset at the end of the day. Spanning 7.5 miles, it runs the length of Half Moon Bay State Beach and a little beyond—from Pillar Point Harbor in El Granada to the Half Moon Bay Golf Links.

About the Route

Starting at the trail's northern endpoint at Pillar Point Harbor in El Granada, visitors will quickly be aware of another popular diversion: surfing. After passing a forest of sailboat masts at the marina, trail users will cross the jetty to Surfers Beach, which offers good waves under the right conditions. (About 2 miles northwest is world-renowned Mavericks Beach, where 15- to 30-foot waves challenge surfers.)

Less than a mile from the harbor, the trail veers away from Cabrillo Highway/CA 1. At 1 mile, the trail ends at Magellan Avenue but resumes in 0.3 mile at Miramar Beach. To pick up the trail again, take a right on Magellan Avenue, then take the first left on Mirada Road, which ends at the beach. Here the trail follows the bluff past a series of beaches—Roosevelt, Dunes, and Venice—and park entrances at Young Avenue and Venice Boulevard.

The main State Beach park entrance and visitor center (open weekends only) is located at Francis Beach at the end of Kelly Avenue, 2.4 miles from Miramar Beach. Here trail users will find camping, picnicking, and the start of an equestrian trail that is separated from the Coastside Trail by a split-rail fence and runs about a mile south to Poplar Beach. Straying off the Coastside Trail onto the beach, stay a safe distance from temporary fencing that protects the nesting areas of the tiny western snowy plover, a threatened species.

The trail crosses the Seymour Bridge over a drainage in 1.1 miles. The Monterey pines and eucalyptus trees here offer some rare shade along the route. For the next 2.7 miles, the trail passes through wildlife and bird habitat at the Wavecrest Open Space before reaching its southern endpoint at the Half Moon Bay Golf Links.

The Half Moon Bay State Beach offers parking, picnicking, fishing, and camping, and visitors are encouraged to arrive early on weekends. Facilities are wheelchair accessible, right down to the availability of wheelchairs with balloon-style wheels for crossing the sand at Francis Beach. There’s access from the trail to all the popular beaches along this stretch. Sunbathing is welcome, but swimming is discouraged due to dangerous currents and the absence of lifeguards.


The paved pathway is also a segment of the California Coastal Trail, a network of bicycling and hiking trails that, when complete, will stretch along the coastline for 1,230 miles from Oregon to the Mexican border. Another segment of the California Coastal Trail, the Cowell-Purisima Trail, begins about a mile south.

Trail History

The rail-trail roughly follows the corridor of the short-lived Ocean Shore Railroad, which launched shortly before the 1906 San Francisco earthquake. Although passengers used the railroad to visit the beaches, it went out of business in 1920 as farmers came to rely on trucks to get their produce to market.

Parking and Trail Access

The Half Moon Bay Coastside Trail runs from 11820 Cabrillo Hwy N (Half Moon Bay) to 1001 Miramontes Point Rd. (Half Moon Bay), which both offer parking.

Additional parking and restrooms can be found at Venice Beach, 401 Venice Blvd.

Visit the TrailLink map for all options and detailed directions. 

Half Moon Bay Coastside Trail Reviews

Pacific coast trail

Easy flat trail highly recommend and beautiful.

Simply the best

Spectacular views! My favorite trail by far. Clean, safe and fun. Perfect day trip for a quick cheap family getaway.

Beautiful Ride

My husband and I began our bike ride at Pillar Point Harbor and we were lucky to find parking since it was Labor Day weekend. It’s such a beautiful trail along the coast. Lots great picture opportunities. The trail ends at the Ritz Carlton, but we continued on a little further which connects to the Cowell Purisma Trail. It’s an easy bike ride.

Scenic, Safe, Superb!

Gorgeous day in Half Moon Bay - what a terrific opportunity to explore this trail! It appears that many enjoy its wonders as well...pretty remarkable, considering this is the middle of the week! There were walkers, bikers, and dogs on the path - everyone was very respectful of passing each other and sharing the width of the path.

Nice to have the ocean 'on your shoulder' as you move up and down the path, as well as seeing all the wildlife - hawks, herons, rabbits to name a few!


New name, longer ride

Now named the California Coastal Trail, it has been extended through the Half Moon Bay golf links and is now almost 9 and a half miles.Overall it's in very good shape. It could use a little better signage. Great Ocean views with beach access.

Bike Rental Nearby

We took our guests from Connecticut to Half Moon Bay, stopped at Bikeworks on Kelly Avenue to rent very nice bicycles at a reasonable price, and pedaled over to the trail. Perfect trail for easy cycling - mostly paved, level, great views, interesting bridges, and easy access to restaurants; Sam's Chowder House and Miramar Beach Restaurant are a couple. Trail is long enough to get a pleasant ride - not too long. Bring a windbreaker as the wind can be pretty strong off the ocean.

Stunningly Beautiful Trail and Community

I live in Southern Oregon and visit Half Moon Bay from time to time. The coastal trail from HMB to Princeton now includes a fabulous new bridge. This 6 mile portion of the coastal trail is absolutely gorgeous. It is exceedingly well maintained. Along the way you will meet young families with children, seniors, and visitors from around the world. Be sure to use your bike's bell and go slowly around walkers. I learned that some of the international visitors do not understand "on your left"

The round trip ride from HMB to Princeton is about 13 miles and can be easily completed in an hour and a half. There are many lovely state parks with picnic tables and ocean views so pack a snack or lunch and relax. You'll be creating a lifelong memory.

nice views...needs maintenance

We parked at the Poplar beach parking lot and headed north figuring this would give us the most amount of paved walking route for the strollers. The bridge is out over Pilarcitos creek, there is a "detour" but it routes you out to Hwy 1 and back down Venice rd. We opted just to head back and try our luck south of Seymore bridge, again nice views, we even saw a couple whales, this would be a great walk if you could take the bridge!

Really nice

Our weather wasn't good -- foggy and drizzly -- but it was a nice, flat, paved, quiet (on a weekday) 3.5 mile path along the ocean. We jogged it and it was perfect distance and not too strenuous, but it would be a great family bike ride from end to end. Rangers were doing maintenance to keep it nice - thank you! Also, we spotted MANY adorable tiny bunnies along the way.

Absolutely gorgeous and beautiful weather

This is a trail that you might get less exercise on because you want to stop every few minutes to take pictures!

I went Friday and can't wait to get back this weekend and take my wife who doesn't enjoy long complicated rides. I parked at the visitor's center at the end of Kelley Ave ($10 parking fee). When I arrived Friday morning it was cold so I went into the restrooms at the park and changed into jeans and long sleeve shirt, fortunately having anticipated it might be cold enough for these.

I first took the trail north and it was a very easy ride. As you head up the trail it turns into Mirada Road which is a nice quiet street that is perfectly safe, then you pass the Miramar Restaurant and the road ends. When you pass Miramar then turn right on Magellan and the trail picks back up on your left fairly quickly. There are some sections that aren't right on the coast but enough that are that make the ride worth it. I went as far as the Half Moon Bay Airport though I went off the trail to get there so I could get some pictures of the planes. The trail is very easy to ride, mostly paved and level to slight elevation. When I returned back to the starting point I went south and ended up at the end of the trail at the Ritz Carlton. I'm not sure if I accidentally went off the trail or not but I ended up on a dirt trail with pretty deep ruts at some point but they were fine for my bike and tires. It was really fun but I wouldn't take most people on there unless they are more into the mountain bike type trails. It's also possible I went off the main trail for some point as my Strava tracker shows me taking different routes. Either way it was awesome. At some point it went back to paved trails and then the Ritz which was not as nice because of all the golf carts and drivers who seemed oblivious to bikers and pedestrians.

The trail is closer to the ocean when riding south from the visitors center than north and it's so awesome just hearing the sound of the waves crashing with a nice cool breeze. I can't wait to get back.

A Favorite Family Ride

We like to take a slow ride on weekends and then go have brunch in Half Moon Bay. There are fewer pedestrians and dog owners than many of the trailes that I ride; they tend to cross the trail to walk on the beach. The ride can be extended to the south as far as the country club if you don't mind getting off road. It is an easy section with lots of wild life. There is an ocean influence so be prepared for chilly mornings and fog. The only downside is the traffic getting into Half Moon Bay. Get there early on summer weekends.

Nearby Trails

Go Unlimited Today!

  • FREE Account
  • View over 40,000 miles of trail maps
  • Post your trail reviews
  • Share your trail photos
  • Save your favorite trails
  • Learn about new trails near you
  • Get a free map in the app!
Register for FREE
Purchase Unlimited

Explore by City

Explore by City

Explore by Activity

Explore by Activity

Log in to your account to:

  • View trail paths on the map
  • Save trails to your account
  • Add trails, edit descriptions
  • Share photos
  • Add reviews

Log in with Google

Log in with Apple


Register for free!

Join TrailLink (a non-profit) to view more than 40,000 miles of trail maps and more!

Register with Google

Register with Apple


Your account has been deleted.