October in Half Moon Bay is a very popular place with its pumpkin festival and the many, many pumpkin patches that people come to from all over. Getting to Half Moon Bay is a little bit of a headache on the weekends, but if you can drive over Hwy 92 (from the east) or Hwy 1 (from the north) by around 9:30 am, you can miss most of the bumper-to-bumper traffic. We usually avoid Half Moon Bay altogether on weekends leading right up to Halloween, but we figured the 8th was still far enough away and the weather was predicted to be gorgeous that day. Also, we were heading straight to the coast, past the pumpkin patches, since we had bike riding on our minds. This was the second weekend in a row that we traveled to the coast, but the Half Moon Bay Coastside Trail is one that we keep coming back to because of its sweeping views of the ocean, its many beach access points, and interesting sights along the way. I’ve heard it called a destination bike ride and that’s exactly how I think about it. This bike ride is about 5 miles one way, making it a 10-mile flat, leisurely ride on a multi-use trail with many areas to stop and revel in the view.
We’ve done this bike ride in both directions and parked in various parking lots to start the ride, but we like parking at Dunes Beach on Young Avenue because there is usually plenty of parking (and space to get our bikes ready). This puts us in the middle of the trail, but the trail is beautiful whatever direction or place you start. The parking lot at the south end is at Poplar Beach and at the north end is at Pillar Point Harbor if you don’t want to start in the middle. This trail is moderately trafficked, so starting earlier in the day helps avoid any congestion. With that being said, however, sunsets on a clear (i.e. non-foggy) day, are pretty spectacular while viewed on this trail. So… go whenever you like, just don’t forget your jacket. I have to say that biking the trail is most impressive on a clear, sunny day. Riding this trail on a foggy morning without any views of the ocean just didn’t have the same wow factor for me.
Once you get to Mirada Road it looks as though the trail ends, but continue on the beach front road (sharing with people and cars) and then turn right on Magellan Avenue where the road dead ends (after Miramar Beach Restaurant). Continue on until you see the trailhead on the left.
This next stretch is my favorite part of the ride and we usually ride this section up and back a few times especially when there is no one there.
If you ride this trail during lunch time, there are a number of places you can stop to have a meal. A little over halfway into our bike ride we stopped and had lunch at Miramar Beach Restaurant located on Mirada Road. We had a quick lunch on their patio of a cheeseburger, fish and chips and salmon sandwich. The food was delicious and served quickly, we were fueled up and back on the trail in no time. If you want more of a take out place, we like Barbara’s Fishtrap. We’ve never eaten inside the restaurant, we’ve always ordered food from their takeout window and eaten it on the many picnic benches located in the area. There is also the Half Moon Bay Brewing Company which is a popular place, making it hard to get seating. But if you happen to get lucky and snag seating, then a nice cold beer with their seafood appetizers is hard to beat. Enjoying a picnic along the many gorgeous spots along the way is always a good idea.
After making our way back to Dunes Beach, we spent some time on the beach feeling very lucky to be experiencing beautiful, warm weather, a rare occurrence at least whenever we’re in Half Moon Bay. We even dared to take our jackets off! Too soon it was time to head home, we needed to get through Hwy 92 before the pumpkin-patch rush hour. Whether you bike ride, walk, jog or even horse back ride (there is a dirt trail that parallels the paved trail that is specifically for horses), I hope you have a chance to experience this beautiful trail.