Fitzgerald Reserve & Pillar Point

On our way to Half Moon May, south of Montara State Beach, we stopped at the Fitzgerald Marine Reserve.

Fitzgerald Marine Reserve

This area is best viewed at low tide for its tide pool riches. But a high tide visit provided us with a grand view of the California coast and Pacific Ocean in sunshine. Over long geological time created uplifted layered rock with crevices in a marine terrace, This now helps many creatures thrive along the Seal Cove Fault, a fault-line that continues towards Pt Reyes.

Fitzgerald Marine Reserve Bench

The trails along the bluff  were being repaired and a trek on the beach was short as the harbor seals were sunning themselves on the beach. We respected their space and watched the waves. Maybe we could return the next day for low-tide and tide pool observations.

Part of the San Mateo County Parks, the Reserve has the tiniest of Visitors Centers and a small parking lot at California Ave. in Moss Beach. Total trail at the Reserve is less than 1-mile.

Fitgerald Marine Reserve Coast

The Coastal Trail from Fitzgerald Marine Reserve – when not under repair – continues along Airport St. until it gets to Pillar Point Marsh. Across the road from the airport’s landing strip are some trails at Pillar Pt. Bluff (Over a mile of trail – no beach access ). We didn’t stop but went on to Pillar Point Marsh.

Reclaimed from agricultural use the marsh is a good spot for birds and birders. Off West Point Ave. is an Air Force Station and to the left is trail access along the marsh and Pillar Pt. Harbor. The harbor is protected by a breakwater.

Pillar Point Marsh

A wide dirt path goes out to the point and the breakwater in less than a half-mile. The harbor is mild enough for easy kayaking.

Kayaks at Pillar Point Harbor

Children played near the water past the marsh area. A labyrinth marked some grown up entertainment or need. The views across the marsh, harbor and bay  to the mountains were invigorating. The town of Half Moon Bay is across the water.

Pillar Point Labyrinth

We walked to the end of the point and peaked around the corner at the beach. Looked more blustery on the ocean side than on the calm idyllic harbor.

Pillar Point headlands

On such a short walk we would hardly get lost, but we followed these people back to the  parking lot. Soon, we would get to Half Moon Bay –  in time for a drink in the bar of our hotel and choosing a restaurant for dinner.

Pillar Point walkers

For those of you who want to walk or bicycle to Half Moon Bay, once you get back to Airport Street and hook up with the main street, Princeton Ave., you can wend you way to the Coastside Trail. That’s a State trail, thanks to the Coastal Conservancy, so I guess it has to have another name than San Mateo County’s Coastal Trail. But they’re connected. The Coastal/Coastside Trail is about 4 miles from Pillar Point to Half Moon Bay at Hwy 1 and Hwy 29.

Half Moon Bay mural

Almost forgot the Mavericks, an exciting surfing spot to the west of Pillar Point. This mural of a surfer on the kinds of huge waves at the Mavericks is painted on a market in downtown Half Moon Bay.

Words by Lynn Millar

Photos by Mike Millar

Early in the day we were at San Pedro Valley Park.

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