HMB: Higgins Canyon-Purisima Creek-Cowell Purisima Coastal Trail

Sunday, July 26, 2015

View the entire Google Web Album

This ride climbs up west Higgins Canyon Rd to the summit at McGovern Ridge before rolling down along Purisima Creek to Verde Rd onto Hwy 1. Head south for a wonderful jaunt along the Cowell-Purisma Coastal Trail to Cowell Ranch Beach. Return north on Hwy 1 for a scenic loop along the HMB Coastal Trail before heading south back to Miramontes Point.

Begin this ride from the public coastal access parking lot on Miramontes Point. Head north on Hwy 1 towards Main St.

Turn right on Higgins Canyon Rd; the road heads inland with a flat run through the agricultural farmlands along Arroyo Leon Creek.

The road gradually climbs up from the canyon through the eucalyptus grove to the country homes around Cypress Ridge.

At Cypress Ridge, the road narrows as it tilts up for a steady mile long climb with an average grade of 8.8% to the summit at McGovern Ridge.

Enjoy the fabulous views Kings Mountain and the surrounding forests!

Higgins Canyon Rd swiftly descends from the ridge down towards Purisima Creek with fantastic views of the canyons and forests!

The road name changes to Purisima Creek Rd as it sweeps around the bend at Walker Gulch; the road descends westward from underneath the redwoods along Purisima Creek out to the horse ranches and pastoral meadows.

The road continues rolling along the creek with views of the surrounding ridges, ranch lands and open fields to Verde Rd.

Head south on Hwy 1 through the coastal farm lands to Cowell-Purisima Coastal Trail south Staging Area located across from Bob’s Vegetable Stand.

Pics of a few hawks hanging out along Hwy 1:

The south Cowell-Purisima Coastal Trail travels along the coastal bluffs to the north end at Cowell Ranch Beach-it’s a gorgeous stretch of unpaved trail with beautiful vistas! The 3.6 mile section of trail offers phenomenal views of the Pacific Ocean and the sloping foothills of the Santa Cruz Mountains.

Enter through the trail gate and follow the road to the junction; go left for 0.2 mile to the bluff-top Vista Overlook.

Enjoy the magnificent views of the ocean and the coastal bluffs!

Retrace steps back to the trail junction and continue north along the trail.

Another vista area has outstanding views of the squadron of pelicans on the beach, this is where they all hang out!

Stay on the trail, it goes past the rich agricultural fields to a trail gate.

The trail drops down into Purisima Creek Canyon on a single track through the lush riparian landscape to the bridge crossing over Purisima Creek.

Th trail winds out of the canyon around the steep creek banks up to the farm houses at Cowell Ranch.

Cowell-Purisima Coastal Trail continues along the bluff with gorgeous views of the coast to the west and the rich farm fields to the east.

The trail crosses over another bridge.

It winds around the coastal bluff to a third bridge before coming to a T at Cowell Ranch Access Rd.

Walk around and take in the spectacular views!


Head east on Cowell Ranch Access Rd; it leads past the productive agricultural fields around Cowell Ranch to the Cowell Ranch Beach parking lot.

Turn left on Hwy 1 and head north for the return to the public coastal access parking lot on Miramontes Point Rd.

Enter through the gate onto the Ritz-Carleton Coastal Trail; the paved trail goes along the bluff towards Manhattan Beach and winds down around the beautiful golfing greens at the Ritz-Carleton Hotel.

The Ritz-Carleton sits regally on a bluff overlooking the beautiful Pacific Ocean; the public access trail allows us a glimpse into and through this upscale resort hotel area.

This vacation spot requires breaking the piggy bank!

The trail continues winding through the coastal golf course to the luxury condos and homes around the Ocean Colony Club.

The trail pitches up for a short steep climb over a bridge as it exits the resort area onto the Half Moon Bay Coastal Trail.

The HMB Coastal Trail begins on a dirt trail from Redondo Beach to the Seymour Bridge at Poplar Beach. The trail goes along the top of the bluff through the coastal meadows and prairies.

Grand views of the Santa Cruz Mountains to the east:

Views of the coastal bluff & sandy beaches below:

After crossing the Seymour Bridge, the HMB Coastal Trail continues on pavement through Poplar Beach out to the Francis Beach Campground off Kelly Rd.

Exit the trail onto Kelly Ave and head inland to Hwy 1. We made a quick stop at Androetti’s Family Farm for some peaches and nectarines.

At Kelly Ave/Hwy 1, turn right onto the Wavecrest Multi-use trail and head south; this trail runs parallel along the west side of Hwy 1.

The trail ends at Wavecrest Rd, continue on Hwy 1 S to Miramontes Point Rd.

After the climb up Higgins Canyon to McGovern Ridge, it’s literally all downhill and flat for the remaining 18 miles! The Cowell-Purisima Trail is a hidden gem along a less-traveled section of the coastline; you can see hundreds of pelicans on the beaches between Seal Rock and Eel Rock-it’s wild! If you want a longer ride, stay on the HMB Coastal Trail to Pillar Point-you can turn around at anytime. I love riding along the coast-take your time, no matter where you look, it’s always so beautiful!

Garmin Stats:
28 Miles with 1368′ of elevation gain
Max elevation: 757′
Max grade: 11%
Terrain: A few low hills-mixed terrain with a couple of steep climbs
*Cowell-Purisima Trail is open Weekends and Holidays from 8 AM to Sunset
No fee-open to hikers and cyclists. NO DOGS Allowed

Weather: Overcast morning skies > Sunny and warm with temps ranging from the low 60’s to the high 70’s with NW winds

View the interactive RGPS route map & profile

Higgins Cyn

Follow this route for today’s ride:



  1. Hi! I’m just wondering what map(s) you use to know the names of things like individual ridges and gulches along your rides? I’ve never seen things like McGovern Ridge and Walker Gulch marked on maps I’ve used.


  2. Brian, I spend a lot of time researching RidewithGPS to map out the routes. On the top right hand corner of the map, there is “map” tab, click on it and it allows you to view the map in a variety of ways. Each settings bring up different information-I mainly use the Ersi Topo and USCG Scans.


Leave a Comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s