Half Moon Bay Coastal Trail: Autumn Walk

The Pier at Pillar Point (Photo by the author)
I did not realize that autumn has arrived until I saw an orange sea of pumpkins on the side of the road as we reached Half Moon Bay. We are driving along Highway 92 heading towards CA-Highway 1 (Cabrillo Highway) to Pillar Point where we are to set off on a twelve-mile hike on the Coastal Trail. Half Moon Bay is a quaint coastal town 30 miles south of San Francisco, California and famous as the “world’s pumpkin capital”.

While many people in the Bay Area know HMB only as a place for pumpkin patch and pumpkin festivals, to me, it is a place of solace. I spent many times here while recuperating from illness. Since then, Half Moon Bay has been my ‘go to’ place at any season and for different reasons: to frolic at the beach, to buy fresh fish and crab, eat clam chowder, and walk the coastal trail.

After parking, we stop to take in the spectacular views across the pier. Reminded that autumn has arrived, I begin to notice the feel of autumn: not many activities by the pier - no Fishermen or signs of the daily catch and Dungeness crab for sale, nobody is tending the kayak rental place. The colorful kayaks lined upright as if planted on the ground.

From Pillar Point, we slightly drop down towards the beach to take the six-mile coastal path to Poplar Ave, noticing the ice plants that have turned into the color of autumn: orange, red, brown and yellow. A few steps away, we run into a couple of bikers. One of the bikers, a young woman, is wearing a shirt with “CALI LIFE” printed on it. It then occurred to me, the temperature is to be in the low 60s, hazy and windy, according to the weather channel. But the weather in Half Moon Bay is supposed to be that way all year round, it's foggy in the morning but the fog burns off by mid-morning. That’s why I always come prepared with my Patagonia windbreaker, which I usually end up leaving in the car. Today is no different. It's a typical California day, perfect for walking. The sky is blue. The water is shimmering. The mudflats are teeming with sea birds.

Photo by the author

A few minutes later, we are treated to an air-show as thousands of sea birds in their uniform color rise in unison from the mudflats and fly into the air for a few seconds, then land back into the same place in their respective position like a well-trained army pilots. This drill is repeated a few times.

Walking the 6-mile coastal path becomes a leisurely hike. There are so many good distractions from walking that delight the senses: the sounds of the birds and the crashing waves; the smell of sea air; the sight of dramatic views of the sea with the dangerous bluffs, birds, families and dogs frolicking at the sandy beach, surfers in their black wetsuits dotting the waves and the ever-expanding whitecaps.

Further down, we see windswept trees, quaint beach houses, the artist studio and wellness center gardens, and of course the miles of pristine sandy beach with the sea whipping endless whitecaps. After burning off a few calories, we finish with servings of delicious clam chowder at the Miramar Beach Restaurant on the seafront with stunning view of the ocean. And of course the walk back to the parking lot is highlighted by beautiful scenery that my camera gets a good workout. That being said, I leave you the following pictures for the story.

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NOTE:  All photos by the author



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