Hike the Purisima Creek Trail and Craig Britton Trail Loop

Purisima Creek Redwoods Open Space Preserve Lower Entrance - Search Nearby - Added by Brennan McDonald

This beautiful loop hike explores canyons filled with redwoods towering over tranquil streams, and on clear days affords hikers views of the ocean and the surrounding area.

This hike is perfect for any time of year, always staying cool because it is near the coast, and there are multiple creeks that flow year-round. Even on foggy days, the fog condenses on trees to make it seem like it is "raining."

Be warned that this hike has a lot of elevation change and is strenuous.

Begin the hike from the Purisima Creek Redwoods Open Space Preserve's lower entrance, accessed off of CA Highway 1. Take the only trail leading out from the parking lot, which enters a forest full of huge redwoods. After a minute or two of walking, there will be a bridge on your left. Use this to cross over Purisima Creek, which runs year-round. Immediately after crossing the bridge, turn right onto the Harkins Ridge Trail. For about half a mile, this trail runs alongside the creek, but soon begins a steep ascent up the nearby ridge. The next 1.5 miles will be very strenuous, but will afford amazing views on clear days of the surrounding area, including the ocean. On foggy days, hikers will actually be immersed in the the clouds, creating a mysterious effect and dampening everything (and causing streams to flow in summer). At the first trail junction, take the Craig Britton Trail to your right. This first continues along the ridge top, and then drops into a peaceful redwood forest.  Lush ferns and undergrowth provoke feelings of astonishment that even in summer, green hillsides can still be found in the Bay Area. After 2.6 miles, the Craig Britton trail turns into the Purisima Creek Trail. Veer right, taking the trail that leads to the lower preserve (Higgins Canyon Road/Purisima Creek Road) parking lot. This wide trail will travel downhill, following the path of Purisima Creek. Redwoods are everywhere, towering over the creek that is filled with miniature rapids and waterfalls. This trail will lead back to the parking lot, completing the loop hike. 


7 Miles RT

Elevation Gain

1100 ft Gain




Photography, Hiking


Nearby Lodging

Santa Cruz North / Costanoa KOA

Pescadero, California

From $120/night

Serene Redwood Retreat

Ben Lomond, California

From $100/night


Santa Cruz, California

Santa Cruz / Monterey Bay KOA

1186 San Andreas Road

We want to acknowledge and thank the past, present, and future generations of all Native Nations and Indigenous Peoples whose ancestral lands we travel, explore, and play on. Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures and follow local regulations. Please explore responsibly!


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