Purisima Creek Trail

Purisma Creek Redwoods Open Space Preserve, California 94062

Distance4.1mi
Elevation Gain3,434ft
Trailhead Elevation1,990ft
Top1,990ft
Elevation Min/Max346/1990ft
Elevation Start/End1990/1990ft

Purisima Creek Trail

Purisima Creek Trail is a hiking, biking, and horse trail in San Mateo County, California. It is within Purisma Creek Redwoods Open Space Preserve. It is 4.1 miles long and begins at 1,990 feet altitude. Traveling the entire trail is 8.5 miles with a total elevation gain of 3,434 feet. Near the trailhead there are a parking, an information board, restrooms, a bench, an information map, and parking. This trail connects with the following: Craig Britton Trail and Redwood Trail.

Purisima Creek Trail Professional Reviews and Guides

"Just south of Half Moon Bay, Purisima Creek slices quickly and deeply to the sea, with the northernmost redwood forest on the peninsula in its protected headwaters. So close to the urban mania yet hidden well enough to receive only light use, Purisima is a perfect place to quickly, easily, and totally get away from it all."

"Purisima is one of the gold nuggets in the bounty of the Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District. The trails in this 3,117-acre westernmost preserve take you through deep canyons under towering redwoods with creeks gurgling and cascading between rich banks of ferns and sorrel. They traverse grassy, oak-scattered hills and ridges with inspiring views. Some of these trails follow the old mill roads of Purisima’s logging past. A moderately strenuous climb is an unavoidable part of almost any hike in Purisima, except the wheelchair-accessible Redwood Trail. Bring your own water, though you can find all other basic facilities at the trailhead. This eTrail also includes suggested nearby attractions, camping & lodging, restaurants, and local outdoor retailers."

"If you’re interested in learning to speak redwood, then this is the full-immersion program. Grabtown Gulch is sunk deep in a 50-to-60-year-old redwood forest, and this loop treats you with a fast singletrack descent down through the trees to Purisima Creek and then a climb back up a twisty doubletrack that’s not too steep to allow you to enjoy sights, sounds, and smells of the forest that surrounds you."

"Whittemore Gulch Trail is a seasonal trail and is subject to long closures (to mountain bikes and equestrians) throughout the wet season, but when it is open, it truly is a wonderland. Possibly some of the best singletrack switchbacks to be had in the whole North Bay, Whittemore Gulch Trail is a fantastic slalom ride down the face of a plush hillside. There are incredible long-range views in this park, but it’s all about being up close and personal with various colors of the thriving vegetation that surrounds you on all sides."

"Five trails in Purisima Creek Redwoods Open Space Preserve link together for a challenging loop through forested canyons and over high ridges. You’ll lose 1000 feet in elevation in the first 2 miles and regain it on a steady climb out of the canyon. Summer fog sometimes bathes the forested areas, while the open, south-facing ridges may be hot."

"This redwood tree journey parallels cool and peaceful Purisima Creek, passes tranquil, natural herb gardens on the secluded Soda Gulch Trail, and finally travels a view-filled, slender finger of Harkins Ridge. A naturally occurring herb garden includes mint, mugwort, and nettle."

"This loop follows Purisima Creek upstream into a canyon, then breaks off through wooded Soda Gulch. You’ll wind uphill through chaparral, then descend rapidly on a moderately steep fire road, which returns to the creek, redwoods, and trailhead."

"The headwaters for Purisima Creek form on the upper reaches of the western slope of the Santa Cruz Mountains. Following a path through lush redwood forests, the creek works its way to the ocean at a point about 4 miles south of Half Moon Bay. The Purisima Creek Open Space Preserve consists of about 2,500 acres of magnificent public land, open for the use of hikers, runners, equestrians, and bicyclists. Most f the ride is on dirt fire roads through the preserve. Some very steep sections may require you to walk your bike a small amount. There is considerable poison oak in the area, so be very careful not to touch anything suspicious-looking."

"This MROSD preserve is a 3117-acre treasure of redwood forests, clear-flowing streams, steep-sided canyons and long ridges. Its size and its rugged terrain make it a place to find both quiet seclusion and long trails for strenuous hiking trips. This northernmost redwood forest in San Mateo County is just minutes from the urban San Francisco Peninsula. The preserve extends westward for 3 miles from the 2000-foot-high crest of the Santa Cruz Mountains. East across Skyline Boulevard are the San Francisco Watershed lands, Huddart Park, and the Phleger Estate. From the Skyline crest, three ridges divide the preserve into two main canyons trending west. Between Harkins and Tunitas ridges flows Purisima Creek, the centerpiece of the preserve. This trail guide includes the following trails: Purisma Creek Trail, A Loop Trip from the North Ridge, Grabtown Gulch Loop, Bald Knob, and Irish Ridge Exploration, The Bay Area Ridge Trail."

"The headwaters for Purisima Creek form on the upper reaches of the western slope of the Santa Cruz Mountains. Following a path through lush redwood forests, the creek works its way to the ocean at a point about 4 miles south of Half Moon Bay. The Purisima Creek Open Space Preserve consists of about 2,500 acres of magnificent public land, open for the use of hikers, runners, equestrians, and bicyclists. This ride encompasses nearly the entire preserve and allows the cyclist to experience the full range of pristine beauty available there."

"This 7.3-mile loop gives you a taste of the terrain and beauty here at Purisima Creek Redwoods Open Space Preserve. Though this counterclockwise route is short, using mostly wide single-track trails (old logging roads), it’s a great workout due to the climbs found in the second half of the loop. The first half is nearly 100% down-hill, dropping 1,580 feet in four sweet miles over usually hard-packed dirt. As opposite as day and night, the second half of the loop is mean and nasty as it climbs back up to the north entrance, regaining every inch in less distance—3.3 miles to be exact. The only real technical challenge on the uphill is staying on your bike despite the steepness. And parts of it are steep, up to 15% grade."

"Purisima is one of the gold nuggets in the bounty of the Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District. The trails in this 3,117-acre westernmost preserve take you through deep canyons under towering redwoods with creeks gurgling and cascading between rich banks of ferns and sorrel. Paths also traverse grassy, oak-scattered hills and ridges with inspiring views. Some of these trails follow the old mill roads of Purisima’s logging past. A moderately strenuous climb is an unavoidable part of almost any hike in Purisima, except the wheelchair-accessible Redwood Trail. Trails Surface: Well-maintained single- and double-track dirt trails."

Purisima Creek Trail Reviews

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11/27/2011
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12/24/2010
I live nearby and take this hike at least once a month. never gets old. Beautiful views of both the SF Bay, the city and the Pacific.
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6/22/2008
A trail of two halves! ... First section is a fun single track down Whittemore trail - great switchbacks and wonderful rides through dense, lush forested areas ..... then comes the long hard slog out on a fire road - beautiful to begin with but becomes a little tedious at the end and requires a shortish uninspiring stint on Skyline boulevard to get back to the parking area. Great for variation and leg fitness but there are better rides in the area. I believe linking this to Half Moon Bay, when at the bottom of Whittemore trail, can add some variety and fun - haven't done it though
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10/1/2007
Most of the trail is fireroad. The single track section is good, but it is all a fairly steep downhill (or uphill, depending on the direction you take). Nice views and setting though.
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6/11/2003
For beginning hikers, this is a good trail to try. It is challenging in its length but not overwhelming if water and rest stops are taken. The ascents are not extreme but the last 2 miles of descent can be tough on older knees. I thoroughly enjoyed the coolness of the Redwoods mixed with the warmth of the chaparrel at the higher elevations.
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Purisima Creek Trail Photos

Trail Information

Purisma Creek Redwoods Open Space Preserve
Nearby City
Purisma Creek Redwoods Open Space Preserve
Parks
Stroller/Wheelchair Accessible
Accessibility
Purisima Creek Redwoods Open Space Preserve
Local Contacts
USGS 7.5-min. Woodside
Local Maps