Monday, October 5, 2015

Pillar Point Harbor's West Shoreline Trail to Maverick's Beach

Harbor-side shoreline of Pillar Point peninsula
The shoreline trail of the Pillar Point Harbor District connects the Pillar Point Marsh west of Princeton-By-The-Sea with Maverick's Beach. This trail allows for a pleasant stroll past harbor tide pools—with backwards views of the Montara Mountain—toward the outer harbor jetty. From there, beach walkers may want to continue westward to the rock assembly off Pillar Point near where the famous Maverick waves are rolling in after a strong winter storm.

The Pillar Point Marsh is a small, but important spot along the Pacific Flyway. Migrating birds rest and feed here. Full-time residents such as the Great Blue Heron find small fish, insects, amphibians and reptiles in the marsh, which they often spear with their long bill.

Rocks and tide pools off the shoreline trail
Between the marsh and the outer harbor jetty are tide pools and flat rocks to explore, accessible depending on the tide. At the beginning of the jetty you'll find a warning sign alerting danger due to deadly waves that may occur at any time. The jetty is considered unsafe for walking. Indeed, climbing rather than walking would be required to manage the rocks and voids of the jetty. Many times when I came by I saw people hanging out on and between the jetty boulders, apparently not afraid of slippery surfaces and waves.

Rocks between Maverick's Beach and Mavericks off Pillar Point
To enjoy the evening sun, the western end of Maverick's Beach is a nice place. This is also a great location for bird watching. Bring your binoculars to focus in on the activities of sea birds on, around and above the off-shore rocks. At high tide, Maverick's Beach becomes a narrow stripe of sand. Expect rushes of whitewater and possible debris falling from the steep cliff of the Pillar Point peninsula. To watch surfers during a Mavericks surf contest, the rock formation blocks the view of the wave-break area further out. The safest places to watch competitors in their heat is at home on an Internet webcast or in a bar or restaurant around Princeton Harbor. 

Getting to the West Shoreline Access parking lot
Get to the intersection of Highway 1 with roads leading to El Granada and Princeton. This intersection southeast of the Half Moon Bay Airport has a traffic light. Turn west on Capistrano Road. Follow this road through the Pillar Point motel & restaurant neighborhood and turn left  on Prospect Way. At the end of this short road, turn left on Broadway. After 150 ft, turn right on Princeton Avenue. At the western end of Princeton Avenue, turn right on West Point Avenue and follow this road all the way around the Pillar Point Marsh until you get to the Tide Pools Parking Lot, which are located on the left side of the road, just before the road starts ascending toward the Pillar Point Air Force Station.

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