I know you guys are probably getting sick of ride reports from the San Mateo coast, but…well, tough. 🙂 Â It’s a gorgeous area and I’m inexplicably not running out of neat places to ride there. Â Plus, the only three areas to ride within a 50-mile round trip of my house are: Â a. the peninsula (urban sprawl/freeways), b. the hills (currently covered in landslides/fallen trees/muck from our March flooding), or c. the coast.
So, the coast it was!
During one of my recent visits to Cameron’s, I picked up a book called “The Coast Time Forgot: The Complete Tour Guide to the San Mateo Coast”. Â I’m starting out with their general Driving Tours section; since it covers Half Moon Bay to Santa Cruz, it’ll last me a while.
My first stop on the Driving Tour ride was a tiny little beach access road in Half Moon Bay that I’d never been to before: Cowell Ranch Beach. Â A small parking lot about a half-mile south of Miramontes Point Road is the only indication that there’s something there; the beach itself is another half-mile walk through farmland.
As you can see, it’s an easy walk amongst the ubiquitous yellow flowers of springtime that I continue to be drastically allergic to.
Halfway down the path is this little fellow, by local artistÂ Bill Sorich. Â I just love fun metalworking, especially in unexpected places.
Cowell Ranch has been a working farm since the 1800s. The Cowell Foundation sold it to the Peninsula Open Space Trust in 1986, which has ensured the land remains farmed and portions of the beach stay open to the public.
Why only portions? The beach north of the viewing area is open to the public (though I chose not to go down the stairs all the way to the beach itself). Â Maybe next time when I have hiking boots and my lungs aren’t complaining about little yellow flowers.
The beach to the south, however, is closed…at least to humans. Â It’s a harbor seal preserve. Â There were a couple dozen sprawled out on the rocks and sand today, with more likely in the water. Â It’s the birthing time of year, so I’m sure there were little pups around that couldn’t be seen from the cliffs.
Kinda hard to see, but the gray dots at the base of the cliff, leading out to the darker rocks, are all harbor seals:
See? Â Ugh, I really need a better zoom for wildlife photos.
Anyway, after lollygagging around Cowell Ranch Beach, I headed south for a couple of miles until Verde Road.
The intersection of Hwy 1 and Verde was the location of the old stagecoach town of Purissima. Â The biggest building was the 17-room Doebbel mansion, owned by young German immigrant Henry Doebbel, who made his fortune off of a waffle restaurant. When he fell upon hard times in an economic downturn, Doebbel mortgaged the farm to Henry Cowell — the namesake of the beach I just visited as well as Henry Cowell State Park in Santa Cruz county.
Anyway, Purissima gradually declined and the last of the mansion was dismantled in 1930. Â Supposedly you can still find a small cemetery and paving stones to mark Purissima, but I didn’t go spelunking amongst the heavy vegetation.
Verde Road makes a quick 2-mile loop and then returns to Highway 1. Â It has a couple of very interesting surprises, which I’m saving for the next ride…gotta keep you guys on your toes! But I was able to get some good bike photos in on this trip. 🙂
At the intersection of Verde and Highway 1, if you go straight instead of turning left or right onto 1, there’s a very short little road called Meyn Road. Â There’s basically no access to anything other than a cool eucalyptus grove for photographing one’s motorcycle.
After the photography, my back was a little sore, so I stopped at Â — where else? — Cameron’s for clam chowder and a grilled cheese sandwich. Â Then it was a short hop back over the hill to home.
Total ride mileage was 43 miles today — a little shorter than last time, but just as fun!