Trail Review: Purisima Creek Redwoods

Tall, tall trees

10 miles, 1600 feet. Recommended, with modifications.

My parents came up to visit at the end of last week, and Friday we went out on a hike in the redwoods at Purisima Creek Redwood Open Space Preserve, located in the northern Santa Cruz Mountains. We had a great time but it was a long ten miles, even for my ultra-marathoner parents! The redwoods are spectacular, though, and it’s definitely worth a trip. Nearly all of the redwoods in this forest were logged in the late 1800’s, so the current forest is relatively young, but stumps show you how big the original trees once were. Amazing! Though there are a few views of Half Moon Bay from the trail, the trees and wildflowers are the main sights here, and it would be a nice hike on a foggy day.



Looking out to Half Moon Bay

I’m just a beginner naturalist, but I’m trying to learn. Someday I’d like to be able to recognize all the plants and animals out there! Anyway, I could be wrong with these identifications… Flowers spotted, clockwise from the big photo: Hound’s Tongue, California Manroot, Giant Trillium, Woodland Strawberry, Milkmaids, and Redwood Sorrel.

Details: We did the “grand loop” trail, starting from the North Ridge parking lot, heading down to Purisima Creek Trail, then back up via Craig Britton Trail. It was nice going down, until it sinks in that you’ve really gone downhill a lot, you’ve only done 4/10 miles, and you are already getting tired. Not to mention you’re in the bottom of a gully and it’s gotten hot and humid. It’s only a short way to the single-track Craig Britton Trail, though, which I thought was the most scenic part of the hike. Next time I think it would be best to park at the lower Purisima Creek Road lot, then go up the Harkins Ridge Trail, bypass the North Ridge section altogether, and head back down on the Craig Britton Trail. This would cut off three miles and about 500 feet of gain, which I think would make all the difference between a great hike and a nice, but seemingly endless one.


6 thoughts on “Trail Review: Purisima Creek Redwoods

  1. Oh amazing! I'm originally from the Santa Cruz area and those woods remind me of some of my favorite running trails! Thanks for sharing 🙂

  2. Yeah, it kind of feels like paradise here! I'm not taking it for granted though – I lived in Boston the last few years, so I totally understand the late winter/early spring longing for warmth 🙂

  3. This is my first spring in the bay area, but I hear the wildflowers will really get going in the next couple months. There's so much recreation here, it's hard to go wrong!

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