Hike: Cowell Ranch Beach Trail
South Half Moon Bay, California

Sunday, August 11, 2013

By Peter Y. Chou

Preface: This is my seventh hike in 2013. On July 14, a friend took me to Cowell-Purisima Coastal Trail for an hour hike. We went to the northern Cowell Ranch Beach Trail, but the parking lot with some 20 cars was full, so we never went hiking there until today (August 11). There was heavy fog on Highway 92 approaching Half Moon Bay, but when we got to Highway 1 to the Cowell Ranch Beach Trail, the fog cleared up. We were lucky to find parking space today at 1:05 pm. The straight half-mile walk to the Scenic Overlook took 45 minutes while photographing wildflowers along the way. We went on the 3-mile Cowell-Purisima Coastal Trail that brought us to the cliffs with scenic ocean views. At the end of our four-hour hike, went to the Scenic Overlook which we skipped earlier. Lucky to photograph some 7-12 pelicans flying overhead. It was a refreshing hike, surrounded by farm fields, coastal cliffs, and panoramic ocean views. Lee Pauser's Bay Area Wildflowers & Dereila Images of Alpine Flowers were helpful in identifying many wildflowers on today's hike.

Highway 280: Fog over Hills (1, 2, 3)

Crystal Springs Reservoir on Highway 280

Highway 92: Fog & Slippery Road Sign

Highway 92: Fog over the Hills

Highway 92: Fog at Half Moon Bay

Highway 92: Fog over Three Hills

Highway 92: Blurry Plants from Car

Cowell Ranch Beach Signpost

Farm House near Trail Entrance

Farmland on Trail

Cricket & Golden Yarrow

Farm House on Trail

Highway 1 by Hike Entrance

Cowell Ranch Info Board

Cowell Ranch Beach Map

Monterey Pine at Entrance

Vanishing Point on Trail to Beach

Thistle (Cirsium hookerianum)

Wild Mustards on Trail

Wild Mustard (Sinapis arvensis)

Clean White Farm House

Bee on Yellow Madia (Madia Elegans)

Scarecrow in Farm Field

Farm Jeep in Field

Whale Fence on Trail

Agriculture Infomation Board

Farm Field to Beach

Water Hemlock (Cicuta)

Prairie Primrose (Oenothera albicaulis)

Wild Mustard on Both Sides

Wild Mustard Flowers

Bench on Trail

View of Hills & Farm Field

Trail Bend & View of Houses

Bull Thistle (Cirsiium vulgare)

Fennel (Foeniculum vulgare)

Yellow Wild Fennel

Trail Regulations Sign

Golden Yarrow, Cliffs & Ocean

Farm Field & Hills

Cowell-Purisima Coastal Trail Sign

Cowell-Purisima Coastal Trailhead

Bouquet Bush of Yellow Madia

Bee on Shasta Daisy

Long Trail to Cowell Beach

Trail to First Bridge

Cliffs, Islands, Ocean

V-Shape Cliffs to Ocean

Golden Yarrow, Cliffs, Ocean

California Aster (Asster chilensis)

Ripples of Ocean Waves

View of Cliffs and Ocean

Bush Mallow (Malacothamnus) on Clifftop

Islands & Ocean Waves

Buttonbush & Ocean Waves

Field of Wild Mustard (Sinapis arvensis)

V-Shape Cliffs to Island in Ocean

White Yarrow (Achillea millefolium)

V-Shape Cliffs to Island in Ocean

V-Shape Cliffs to Boat in Ocean

Islands & Boat in Ocean

Plants on Cliffs & Ocean View

View of Second Bridge on Trail

Second Bridge & View of Hills

Second Bridge & Golden Yarrow

V-Shape Cliffs to Islands in Ocean

"Wet & Wild" Information Board

Cliffs, Island, Ocean

Pelican on Ocean Island (Closeup)

Shasta Daisies

V-Shape Cliffs to Ocean Islands

Pelican on Ocean Island

Cliffs, Islands, Ocean

Ocean Wave Ripples

Ocean Islands & Cliff

Two Seagulls over Ocean

Seagull over Ocean Cliff

Cliff & Bird-Shape Island

Buttonbush Flowers

V-Shape Cliffs to Ocean Islands

Flowers, Cliff, Ocean

Sheet of Ocean Waves

Cliffs, Islands, Ocean Waves

Buttonbush on Ocean Cliff

Monterey Pine on Trail Bend

Seagull over Ocean Cliff

Cliffs & Ocean View

Golden Yarrow on Ocean Cliff

Farm Field of Brussels Sprouts

Shasta Daisy

Black Sage (Salvia mellifera)

Hawk Soaring Above

Two Pelicans under the Sun

Seagull on Trail to Monterey Pine

Rows of Artichokes in Farm Field

Dying Monterey Cypress Tree

Farm Field of Brussels Sprouts

Small Wooden Bridge

Hawk Soaring over Farm Field

Hawk Overhead on Trail

Hawk Soaring Above Trail

"Locally Grown" Information Board

Flowers, Cliffs, Ocean

Horsetail Grass (Equisetum)

Golden Yarrow & Ocean View

View of Islands and Ocean

Pelican Flying over Ocean

"Ancient Culture" Information Board

Sign Top of Purisima Creek Canyon

Bowl Shape Cliff & Ocean

Foot Bridge on Other Side

Four-Petal Garlic Mustard Weeds

Third Bridge on Trail

Creek from Third Bridge

Sculpturesque Dying Trees

Small Foot Bridge

Berries near Third Bridge

Serpentine Trail from 3rd Bridge

Spear Thistle (Cirsium vulgare)

Foliage from Third Bridge Trail

Horsetail Grass (Equisetum)

Four-Petals Garlic Mustards

"Three Witches" Rocks Meeting

Bowl-Shape Cliff, Ocean, Sky

Pelican over Bowl-Shape Cliff

Cliff & Waves on Rocks

Waves on Island Rocks

Harbor Seals on Islands (Closeup)

Harbor Seals on Islands

Yarrow, Islands, Ocean

Brussels Sprouts & Farm Houses

Thistle, Cliff, Ocean

Field of Brussels Sprouts

Fallen Branch of Pine Cones

Sun in Foggy Clouds

Curve Trail to Second Bridge

Harrier Hawk Feather

Ocean View from Bridge Gratings

View of Hills from Bridge Gratings

Four Pelicans over Bend Trail (Closeup)

Trail back to First Bridge

Cliffs & Ocean View

V-Shape Cliff & Ocean Waves

Second Bridge on Beach Trail

Tall Thistle

Cliffs & Ocean View

Bush Bunny on Trail (Longshot)

Bush Bunny on Trail (Longshot)

"Life Along Coast" Information Board

V-Cliff View Ocean Island

Crossing back on First Bridge

Stairs down to Beach

Pelicans over Beach (Closeup)

Three Pelicans over Beach

Three Pelicans over Ocean

Seven Pelicans over Land

Seven Pelicans Flying Nearby

Eight Pelicans Flying to Sea

Twelve Pelicans Flying to Sea

"Harbor Seal Preserve" Info Board

Ocean Waves over Cliff

Cliff & People on Cowell Beach

"A Sense of the Sea" Plaque

Four Pelicans & Coastal Cliff

Buttonbush, Cliff, Ocean Islands

Vanishing Point to the Hills

Whale Fence & Farm Jeep

Farm Houses from Trail

Kid's "Rock It" Bike on Trail

Scarecrow in Farm Field

Nuts on Monterey Pine

Telescope at Scenic Overlook

Trail back to the Entrance

Monterey Pine by Entrance

Three Trunk Pine

Monterey Pine Nuts

Nuts on Monterey Pine

Christmas Trees Farm on Hwy 92

Crow on Fence at Sun Studios, Hwy 92

Fog on Hills, Half Moon Bay

Fog at Crystal Springs (1, 2)

— Photographs by Peter Y. Chou, August 11, 2013

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email: (10-5-2013)