Hundred-foot-redwoods, flowing creeks, yellow-tinged sycamores, big views of the Pacific–all these are on the Thanksgiving menu at Purisima Creek Redwoods Open Space Preserve, just east of Half Moon Bay. This rugged 3,000-acre preserve was established with the help of a multi-million dollar gift from the Save the Redwoods League. Start on the Purisima Creek Trail under a multicolored canopy of redwoods and sycamores, hiking along the creek past lush ferns and luminous big-leaf maples. If you’re looking for an easy out-and-back hike, just follow the creek for a mile or two and then turn around. If you prefer a 7-mile grand tour with a series of ups and downs, continue along the Purisima Creek Trail, then veer up Soda Gulch and down Harkins Ridge trails. Soda Gulch Trail is a sweet singletrack cut into the side of a lush canyon; at one picturesque point it crosses a wooden bridge. Enjoy the change of scenery as you move from dense redwood forest to an open ridge that reveals miles of galloping hills all the way to the ocean. After completing this hike, you’ll have bragging rights for the evening—even if you lose that game of Trivial Pursuit.
Park at the western entrance of the preserve on Higgins Purisima Road, off of Hwy 1, east of Half Moon Bay. For directions go to the Purisima Creek Redwoods Open Space Preserve website. Pick up a map at the trailhead. Be sure to have shoes with good traction for the hike down Harkins Ridge Trail. No dogs.