I almost don’t want to tell you about this.

It’s not like it’s a secret, but this hike near the beach at POST-protected Pillar Point is close to my heart and I kind of want to keep it for myself. But I know better than that and, I like you, so here it goes:

You need to go hike the POST-protected Jean Lauer Trail at Pillar Point—it’s a must. There are few places in the Golden State where you can explore the crust of the continent with views of a world-famous surf break, coastal mountains, whales and dolphins… plus it’s dog-friendly and wheelchair accessible!

The hike starts with a steady, gentle climb to the top of the coastal bluffs. With each step, the sound of the ocean grows louder, building excitement for the views that lie ahead. And then, as you crest the lip of the bluffs…boom. The cool salty air hits you, and the views—fuhgeddaboudit.


If you visit in the winter, there’s a good chance you’ll have views of the world-famous Mavericks surf break catching the season’s strong northern swells. Surfers from around the world flock to this break every winter to ride these giants, with wave heights often exceeding 50 feet (yikes!). Bring some binoculars though, as the wave breaks about a mile offshore.

Hike the right direction and this trail will lead you to the Moss Beach Distillery. Locals say the place is haunted, but it’s never stopped me from indulging in some coastal libations. Be brave. The place is delightful.

Further down the trail is the Fitzgerald Marine Reserve, arguably one of the best places to go tide pooling in the state. If you want to get close to some local wildlife, this is the place to do it. But be sure to check the tides before you leave as you’ll want to arrive during the low tide.

So, you see? There are so many reasons to love this place. The views, smells, feelings and memories of a place so distinctly California, so clearly home. Ready to hit the trail? Here are the details you need to enjoy this POST-protected open space:

Jean Lauer Trail at Pillar Point

Distance: 1.4 miles round-trip with shorter options available

Difficulty: Easy

Hiking time: 1.5 hours

Season: All year, but the fall is particularly nice as there’s typically less fog at that time.

Driving directions: click here

Managing agency:  San Mateo County Parks

Accessible parking: One wheelchair accessible parking space is available in this small lot. The hard-packed, gravel surface is level with little to no grade.

Accessible restroom: Wheelchair accessible, ADA-compliant bathroom at the trailhead.

See trail map below:

beach hike - POST
This is the view into Ross Cove from the Jean Lauer Trail, part of the California Coastal Trail that will one day span the length of the entire state. Photo: Matt Dolkas
beach hikes - POST
The world famous Mavericks surf break lies just off shore from this trail. In the winter months when the swells are big, surfers from around the world visit to ride the massive waves. Photo: Teddy Miller






About Post

Peninsula Open Space Trust (POST) protects open space on the Peninsula and in the South Bay for the benefit of all. Since its founding in 1977, POST has been responsible for saving more than 87,000 acres as permanently protected land in San Mateo, Santa Clara and Santa Cruz counties. Learn more

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