Luke Skywalker never had this much fun. Intermediate and advanced mountain bikers will love the trails at Purisima Creek Redwoods Open Space Preserve on the Peninsula. Descend 1,000 feet on Whittemore Gulch Trail’s kick-butt singletrack. Negotiating tight turns and racing through a dark redwood and Douglas fir forest will spark memories of the speeder bike–racing scene in Return of the Jedi. No Ewoks, however. The payoff: Gorgeous glimpses of Half Moon Bay and, afterward, a burger and beer next to the fireplace at The Mountain House. All in, it’s 10 miles. Get here now—the trail closes to mountain bikes in the rainy season, usually by late November.
TIP: In the wet season when Whittemore Gulch is closed you can follow an alternate route down Harkins Ridge Trail. It leaves from the same trailhead.
Park at the North Ridge Trail trailhead for Purisima Creek Redwoods Open Space Preserve (visit website for directions). Follow North Ridge Trail. After 0.75 mile, turn left down Whittemore Gulch Trail and follow it about 3 miles. Cross the bridge to the lower parking lot. Take the Purisima Creek trail back up to Highway 35 (Skyline), and take a left and ride the pavement 2 miles back to your car. Check the website for trail closure updates and a map. The Mountain House, 13808 Skyline Blvd., Woodside, 650-851-8541. From Wednesday to Saturday it’s open at 5:00 p.m. On Sunday it opens at 2:00 p.m.