Peninsula Open Space Trust (POST) and the State Coastal Conservancy announced Friday new operating hours for the Cowell-Purisima Trail, located just south of Half Moon Bay.
Due to dwindling public funds, operating hours are being scaled back to make the most efficient use of remaining monies and to prevent the trail from closing entirely.
As of Nov. 13, the trail will be open only on weekends and all federal holidays. The connector path that leads from the north parking lot at Cowell Ranch State Beach on Highway 1 to the trailhead remains open daily, though it may be subject to closure on weekdays at the discretion of State Parks.
“By limiting hours to weekends and holidays, we can have the trail stay open nearly a year and a half longer, until early 2015,” said POST President Walter T. Moore. “After that, we hope a public parks agency can step up and take over day-to-day management of this beautiful and easy-to-access trail.”
The Cowell-Purisima Trail is the result of a partnership between POST, the Conservancy and California State Parks. POST and the Conservancy opened this 3.6-mile section of the California Coastal Trail for mostly daily 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.
The northern end of the trail begins above 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, cyclers and wheelchair-riders. With the exception of a section that passes through the steep banks of Purisima Creek, the trail is 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.