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Half Moon Bay,

Purisima Creek Redwoods









Half Moon Bay


Año Nuevo


Sam McDonald




Purisima Creek Redwoods Open Space Preserve is located on the western slopes of the Santa Cruz Mountains overlooking Half Moon Bay. The centerpiece of this 2,633-acre preserve is Purisima Creek Canyon, with its towering redwoods, rushing creek, and understory of ferns, berries, and wildflowers. Coastal shrub and hardwood forests of tanoak, madrone, and Douglas fir border the cool, moist canyon. Magnificent views of the coast and Half Moon Bay are visible from the northern part of the preserve.

Twenty-one miles of developed trails and historical logging roads provide opportunities for easy walks or long, strenuous hikes. The specially surfaced Redwood Trail, which is suitable for visitors of all physical abilities, winds through tall redwoods just off skyline Boulevard. Visitors will find wheelchair-accessible picnic tables and a restroom along this flat, easy route. The Redwood Trail was built through a grant from Peninsula Open Space Trust.

The Whittemore Gulch Trail provides an interesting descent through a variety of plant communities. It is popular among bicyclists during the summer when the trail is dry. The trail is closed to bicycles and horses during the winter and spring months to preserve the trail surface. For an easy walk in the canyon past giant redwood groves and the fern-covered banks of Purisima Creek, start at the parking lot on Higgins Purisima Road and follow Purisima Creek Trail.

The trails that descend from Skyline Boulevard into the canyon can be combined for longer loops. Remember to carry water on these hikes, since the trails out of the canyon can be quite strenuous! For a hike that will rejuvenate your spirit, take the North Ridge Trail from the main parking area. Descend on the Whittemore Gulch Trail to Purisima Creek Trail and follow Purisima Creek Trail along the creek up the hill. Hike north on the Soda Gulch Trail and follow Harkins Ridge Trail back to the parking area. The hike is ten miles long with an elevation change of 1,400 feet.

How to get there

The preserve's main entrance and the North Ridge trailhead are located on Skyline Blvd. (Rte. 35) 4.5 miles south of Hwy 92. Parking is available for 20 cars. For access to the Redwood Trail or Purisima Creek Trail, there is a 5-car parking area at the trailhead 6.5 miles south of Hwy 92. The preserve's western access point is off Higgins Purisima Road, which intersects Hwy 1 about 1 mile south of Half Moon Bay. Parking is available for 10 cars.

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