A semi-secret ocean view
Pillar Point Bluff

Neil Wiley

North of Half Moon Bay, hidden behind a small industrial park and an airport, is the entrance to a bluff that overlooks Pillar Point and Moss Beach. After crossing a short boardwalk, the trail splits. If you turn right and up the bluff, you can look east over the airport, the Montara Mountains, and higher ridges.

As you follow a sandy 1.3-mile loop, you walk by sagebrush, coffeeberries, coyote brush, and small pine trees. It gets more interesting as you walk along a steep cliff edge that seems all too close when you look down. A little farther along the trail, you can look down the coast to see the Pillar Point Air Force Station, distinguished by the huge telemetry antenna that looks like a giant ping-pong ball, and the famous Mavericks surf break with waves that can reach up to sixty feet. A sign warns that the bluff is closed during the annual Titans of Mavericks competition.

Although you can reach the bluff by driving through the industrial park, it is easier to drive past the Half Moon Airport and Cabrillo Farms, and turn left on Cypress Avenue. At 0.3 miles, turn left on Airport Street. Watch for the small parking lot on the right at 0.9 miles. This is the trailhead for the Jean Lauer Trail. There are no parking or entrance fees, and no beach access. Park closes at sunset.