River/Creek · Swimming · Views · Wildflowers · Wildlife
Flat trail with frequent benches. It passes 5 state beaches, each with restrooms and water. There is a campground at Francis Beach.
Parking lots and beach parks are open from 8 AM to sunset.
Need to Know
Dogs are not allowed on the beaches, but dogs-on-leash are allowed on the trails.
There is a $10.00 fee for parking at of the beach parks. In most cases, parking is restricted on the streets near the parks. At the start of the trail, next to the Pillar Point RV Park, you can park for free along the far side of the coast highway. There are a few parking spots on Magellan Ave in Miramar. On some streets near Cabillo Highway there are parking spots, but you'll have to walk up to a quarter of a mile to reach the trail.
This segment of the Coastal Trail
is a paved multi-use path suitable for pedestrians, runners, and bicyclists. It follows the bed of the old Ocean Shore Railroad. Unfortunately, the trail is often 100-300 yards inland from the ocean. It passes 5 state beaches, 4 of which have parking lots and access roads closer to the ocean. It is not much farther to detour along the ocean side of these parking lots and roads. There are often smaller paths on the bluffs, but they can be overgrown in the spring. Once you leave Miramar, you could hike the remainder on the beach itself. I recommend taking some detours on the way out, perhaps stopping at a beach, and then returning via the paved Coastal Trail
This segment of the Coastal Trail
starts next to the Pillar Point RV Park. It is briefly squeezed between the shore rocks and Cabrillo Highway and then goes through the open, grassy Miranda Surf park. At 0.5 miles, turn right on Magellan Ave, and left on Mirada Road. Mirada is lightly traveled, as passes between the narrow beach on one side and restaurants and houses on the other. At 0.9 miles, the trail leaves Mirada Road. It passes near houses for a short distance and then the remainder is through dense coastal scrub, well away from the houses.
The trail passes five Half Moon Bay State Beaches. Roosevelt Beach is at 1.4 miles, followed by Dunes Beach at around 1.8 miles. After Dunes, the trail turns inland about 100 yards to cross the bridge over Frenchmen's Creek. You can hear the creek, but the vegetation is too thick to see it.
The parking lots for Venice Beach are on the other side of the bridge at 2.3 miles. In May 2019, Pilarcitos Creek did not flow directly into the ocean, but instead flowed northward at the bottom of the coastal bluffs until it met Frenchmen's Creek. I do not know how long it will continue this way. It was too wide, deep, and fast flowing to cross. To reach Venice Beach, you would either need to hike south from Dunes Beach, wadding across the creek where it is wide and shallow as it enters the ocean, or make a long hike north from Francis Beach.
At 2.0 miles, the bridge over Pilarcitos Creek is about 40 yards long, passing above the beautiful dense vegetation of the canyon, as well as over the creek. Elmar Beach is on the other side, but it has no access road or parking lot. At 3.2 miles, we come to the first of the 54 campsites at the Francis Beach Campground, including a few tent-only spots next to the bluffs.
This segment ends at Kelly Ave.
Flora & Fauna
Coastal scrub including yellow bush lupin, Crown Daisy, yarrow, Italian thistle, hemlock, coast hedge nettle, and many more.
Shared By: Lee Watts