More beautiful than I expected! I went up to the cross, then at a Y in the path after the cross, I went left and eventually reached the trail marker where you can go up to Santa Rita Mesa or, as I did, go left toward La Artesia. There was another fork after that where I went right and ended up going down steeply to the access road and back to the mission. Don't know what the distance was, but all the sand made it seem longer, I think!
Great! Lots of fun. I took the trail that heads up to the cross (great view of Lompoc Valley - trailhead just passed visitor center) then kept on the trail passed the cross. Eventually following the fence line and heading up on Rita Mesa. Very sandy (beach like) trail past the cross. Some decent hill climbs all on sandy trails makes for a good workout! Take plenty of water and maybe a snack for energy. Stayed on the trail and ended up on an access road for an easy walk back to the mission and start of trail. Fun hike! About 4.8 miles or so on my route. Felt like more because of that sand! Got pretty windy too around 11:30am. Good hike! Really recommend it! Just far enough away from civilization to feel refreshing but not really that far away!
I mostly walk the lower trail with my dogs. It is always beautiful, and it is quite an easy walk. We hike in from our home, the back way. The dogs enjoy the quail, rabbits and other critters we see, and of course, once in the Mission building area there are pigs, turkeys, cattle, etc. to see (for me) and smell (for them). I highly recommend it.
La Purisima Mission is very interesting from a historical perspective and it is a peaceful, shady place for a weekend picnic. The trails go through the surrounding chaparral, with hot sun and deep sand to make hiking a challenge. If you go in the morning you have a good chance of seeing some wildlife -- deer, rabbits, and birds, and maybe some horned lizards in the sandy places.