The power of a good walk
Stephanie Sousa, left, and Lia Golden, get outside with their dog for a walk on the Coastal Trail. They are part of a community of sorts that is focused on the trail. August Howell / Review

California Gov. Gavin Newsom ordered the state’s 40 million residents to stay at home on Thursday, and with gyms and many public spaces closed, people are heading outdoors for exercise.

On the Coastside, that most often means the California Coastal Trail.

Locally, the trail is essentially a 4-mile stretch of winding asphalt and dirt connecting El Granada to Half Moon Bay. It is part of a grand plan for a walkway stretching from Oregon to Mexico, and it has long been a communal space for many on the Coastside.

Joggers, bikers, skaters and walkers of all ages can be seen on the trail on most days. Even on weekends when more people crowd the trail, hikers say it’s still appealing because there’s enough space to adhere to a distance of 6 feet or greater, which is in line with the guidelines from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

On Saturday, walkers hailed from all over the coast, the Peninsula, and even the East Bay and beyond. Rob Zimmerman and his wife, Nadya, come from their home in Millbrae for a walk on the trail roughly once a month. Though they were surprised to see how popular the trail was in the midst of the coronavirus orders, both were glad it was still available and they said, in their experience, people kept their distance.

“As long as people are being sane, there’s really not a problem,” Zimmerman said.

Lia Golden and Stephanie Sousa came together from Alameda to hike on Saturday. They thought the trail seemed more crowded than usual, but agreed everyone was respectful. They, like many outside that day, enjoy taking in ocean views and a dog-friendly atmosphere.

Bob McComb and Suzan Suer are Miramar residents and frequently use the trail. Both are attracted to the area’s natural beauty and accessibility. Over the past few weeks, they’ve seen an uptick in activity on the trail, on bike and on foot.

“It’s just a great way to de-stress,” Suer said. “It’s unbelievably beautiful.”

Both McComb and Suer were quick to acknowledge how fortunate and grateful they felt to live in such close proximity to the trail and a network of like-minded individuals.

“For our community,” McComb said, “this trail is an integral part of our life.”

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