Some hikes are harder than others. Some hikes are prettier than others. Some hikes are more diverse than others. Purisima Creek Redwoods Open Space Preserve definitely falls into the category of harder, prettier, and more diverse! The hubs and I set out early and drove 2 hours to reach this beautiful spot at the north end of the Purisima Creek Preserve just off Skyline Blvd in the South Bay. Not knowing what to expect from this starting point, (we got blissfully lost in a beautiful canyon trying to find the south end parking so we parked at the north end) we grabbed a map in the parking lot and set off on the North Ridge Trail.
The North Ridge trail has 2 options here, you can branch off on a hiker only path or take the wider fire road. We opted for the fire road on the way down and took the hiker only on the way back. Not long into the hike you are hugged by a lush forest as you wind your way down the nicely done switchbacks. Rays of light kept peeking through the trees just enough to let us know we were going to have a beautiful day. Once we were on Whittemore Gulch Trail, gorgeous views of Half Moon Bay spread out below us. It seemed so close yet so far away!
The firs and redwoods blocked most of the wind and sun from us as we dropped down into Whittemore Gulch. Here we found more second-growth redwoods in the canyon and ferns lining the trail that followed the creek. It felt like all we were doing was going down and down and down. Reaching the creek was nice as the trail leveled off and we enjoyed the sound of the creek flowing beside us. The trees on our left were growing through the sandstone and looked like they were barely keeping the hillside up! Love seeing how nature survives without our help. She would probably take over this area if people weren’t out on the trails soaking in the fresh air!
We began to see more and more hikers which usually means we are close to a trailhead. Turning the corner following the creek we were greeted by a gorgeous new bridge across Purisima Creek and the sound of water rushing louder. The young redwoods here were so healthy and beautiful! We took a few minutes to have a snack and take in the beauty surrounding us before heading back up the hill.
Whittemore Gulch Trail was deceiving with the mostly shaded switchbacks we were expecting this as we climbed up Harkins Ridge Trail…I need to pay more attention to the topographic maps! The ascent started gradually and then we left the lush forest for the windy open trails. They were rocky and full sun and full of views! We took many stops to enjoy the views, catch our breath, and switch from jackets to just t-shirts. Many people were heading down the hill looking at us like we were zombies looking for food (which is probably what we looked like). Toward the top of Harkins Ridge Trail it the wind gusted so hard we had to tuck our heads down and walk uphill against the wind. No complaining here! Just was so crazy! It finally leveled off and we entered the shady part of the hike again.
Seeing the fork in the trail for North Ridge Trail took away some of the burn we were feeling in our calves! We took the hiker only trail this time to see what we missed on the way down. It was lovely. Nice narrow switchbacks with few people on it. Back at the full parking lot we fell into the car and congratulated ourselves that we made it! We had wanted to go to Half Moon Bay for lunch and enjoy the coast but the traffic was insane getting there. We ended up waiting until we got all the way home to eat lunch…at 4:30. Note to self, pack a picnic next time. 🙂
Parking=free, pit toilet at each parking lot, 75% sun, 7 miles, 1,500 ft elevation gain, moderately strenuous due to elevation gain, no dogs. The nearest food area was either Half Moon Bay or something off of highway 280.
Things We Love:
Speaking of not eating lunch until dinner time. The hubs and bosslady always have some sort of snacks in the backpack! No need to get hangry out in nature! Due to the extensive list of food allergies for the bosslady, there are only a handful of pre-made portable snacks that she can have. GoMacro Sunflower bars are delicious and filling for when you need that little boost of sugar and Tanka Buffalo Cranberry bars that are better than jerky. These are always in our pantry and always in our backpacks!
Where else can you find us?
Don’t forget to check out the video of the hike on our Hike Then Wine YouTube channel!