Pillar Point is located about 20 miles (32 km) south of San Francisco, and is adjacent to the community of Half Moon Bay. The headland has steep cliffs with an elevation of 175 feet (53 m). The bluff property was historically used for grazing, and in 1940 it was purchased by the U. S. Army for an observation post. In 1958 the U. S. Navy took over and used the station as a control site for missile testing. Ownership of the site was transferred to the U. S. Air Force in 1964 to support ballistic missile test launches out of Vandenberg Air Force Base. The 220-acre bluff top is open to the public and includes a section of the California Coastal Trail and offers views of Half Moon Bay Harbor, agricultural lands and the world famous Mavericks surf break.
The surf break is located approximately 0.5 miles (0.8 km) offshore due west from the Pillar Point Air Force Tracking station. Ross’s Cove, the beach below the bluff, is part of the Fitzgerald Marine Reserve Fitzgerald and is located within the Montara State Marine Reserve. San Mateo County Parks Department acquired Pillar Point Bluff with a grant from the Wildlife Conservation Board as an addition to Fitzgerald Marine Reserve in 2011. Read more here and here. Click here to explore more of Pillar Point and Half Moon Bay.