Hiking Purisima Creek Redwoods OSP
San Francisco › Purisima Creek Redwoods Open Space Preserve
Added by Ali Kim
A good workout with great views of the California coastline. This should take 2-4 hours (depending on pace).
There are two places to park for this specific loop- the main parking area on Highway 35 (Skyline Boulevard) and a smaller parking lot on the western end of the park. I would recommend parking at whichever is closest. Find directions to both on Openspace.org.
From the main parking lot, the trail is easy to find. Take it down (there are technically two ways to go- one 0.3mi long and the other 0.5mi- but both lead to the same place). Once you get to the trail junction, turn left and follow signs to the Harkins Ridge Trail. The trail is flat for about half a mile and then begins to descend. This stretch also offers great views out toward the ocean! After descending about 1000ft, you'll enter a dense redwood forest and walk alongside a stream for a bit before arriving at the other parking lot (which has a restroom if needed). From here, take the Whittemore Gulch Trail back up the ridge. This part is relatively taxing as you climb up an incline for about 2 miles (ascending the 1000ft you lost coming down). If you want an even better workout, jog up! The incline is steep enough that you're working hard, but it's completely doable. After 2 miles, follow signs to the North Ridge Trail, and take that (enjoying the views along the way) until you reach the trail junction you started at. From there just climb back up to the parking lot!
If you park in the western most parking lot you can follow the same loop, just with the uphill portion first (take the Whittemore Gulch Trail to the North Ridge Trail then to the Harkins Ridge Trail and back)!
Additionally, there are a bunch of other trails in this preserve; feel free to explore a little! The trail map can be found on the website listed above, or at the main parking lot.
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Fitness, Hiking, Running
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This trail is great if you want to see a little bit of everything Nor Cal has to offer: creeks, redwood forests, hilly trails, hot and sunny plateaus and views of the ocean. Definitely start going to the top by parking at the west side parking lot. This trail is probably more for intermediate hikers than beginners though.
I love this place! Its not overly crowded like most hiking spots. You get in a great workout and experience a beautiful scenery on your way up. Although the parking lot is super tiny, you can park alongside the road and you'll be just fine. Bring water and a flashlight if you start your hike late. The giant redwoods tower over, making it look darker than it really is.
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This is a great find. We saw it on the map it was on the way from Mendocino to our next stop, Napa Valley. So glad we took the time to visit.