Purisima Creek Redwoods is a buffet of the best elements of Bay Area hiking: great ocean views, towering redwood trees, fern-filled canyons, and almost no people! Take a 10-mile journey that touches all the highlights of this northern Santa Cruz Mountain preserve. This hike is like eating dessert first: You start with a sweet descent that serves up big views of Half Moon Bay and Pillar Point. The path along the North Ridge and Whittemore Gulch Trails winds in and out of the sun, through trees and down to the park’s namesake creek, which flows year-round through a shaded green canyon. Take a break beneath tall sycamores and second-growth redwoods before the 2.3-mile gradual climb up the Purisima Creek Trail (the forest canopy will help keep you cool for this section). This leads to a 2.6-mile stretch along skinny, canyon-hugging Soda Gulch Trail, traversing redwoods and wooden bridges. End with the hardest part of the trip, a 1.4-mile climb up Harkins Ridge. Viva Purisima!
Start at Purisima Creek Redwoods North Ridge Trail trailhead on Skyline Blvd. (Hwy. 35), 4.5 miles south of Hwy. 92. Pick up a map at the kiosk. Take the hikers-only trail .5 mile down. Turn right on the North Ridge Trail, and go .5 mile. Make a left on Whittemore Gulch Trail and hike 2.8 miles down to Purisima Creek. Cross the bridge and continue up the Purisima Creek Trail for 2.3 miles. Make a left on Soda Gulch Trail and go 2.6 miles. At Harkins Ridge Trail make a right and climb 1.4 miles back to the trailhead. No dogs.