Explore the most popular mountain biking trails in Purisima Creek Redwoods Open Space Preserve with hand-curated trail maps and driving directions as well as detailed reviews and photos from hikers, campers and nature lovers like you.

today I covered this loop except I started from South parking lot of purisma which is by skyline Blvd hwy 35. There are space for about 12 cars. however this entrance is much less popular and only have couple of cars Wednesday morning at 10:30. from here it's a gentle 1.8 miles downhill fire road to intersection of Craig Britton trail. once down to purisma creek, it's a flat trail all the way to Higgins road trail head which is pretty popular with about 12 cars parked. the flat creek trail has more people, I ran into 10 hikers and one biker. at early November, the creek is still flowing, a little miracle for peninsula. from Higgins to Harkins ridge trail is mostly exposed and hence dusty just like other south Bay trails. from this point to intersection of Craig Britton trail is all uphill with couple of steep sections. this part of Harkins ridge trail is not pleasant. then comes the beautiful part once I turn into Craig Britton trail which is gentle downhill narrower hiker only trail. it's in the redwood Grove and shady all the way. this trail is as enjoyable as the flat creek trail. there are fewer people on either Harkins ridge or Craig Britton trail. then I turned back to South parking lot. this route is 10.7 miles long with 2297 feet up and 2297 downhill according to Google maps. Google estimate 4.5 hours for the route. it took me 5.2 hours. it's a good hike.

Perfect place. It’s a wonderful air with redwood aroma, dears and squirrels. A little bit harder: too much elevation gain.

The hike took somewhere between 3 - 4 hours. It's short, pleasant, close to the city and had a good amount of parking on a Sunday at 10am. It didn't have extraordinary views or monumental points but was lightly trafficked, calming and just an enjoyable walk.

There is a good mix of shade and sun that was perfect. The most interesting part was how shaded and quite the woods are when you get to the bottom of the hike. There were areas that sunlight couldn't penetrate at tall making it feel like an outdoor cave.

There are two ways to approach this hike: gradual descent and a steep climb or the opposite. My friends and I took the long way down and saw a lot of people walking in reverse. The ascent was a bit steep but not killer by any means. Just a nice short workout.

This is a beautiful trail with scenic views. Followed the suggestion and went anti clockwise because that helped. This was almost a hard hike.


The distance shows 9.4 miles but that’s wrong. It took about 11 miles to complete. So be aware of that discrepancy. Also make sure you carry plenty of water. You will need it.

The loop was 7.2 miles.
3.3 miles uphill 3.5 - 4.5 difficulty.
Next time would probably start at Purisima instead of North Ridge.
3.5 shade.
4 scenary.
Scale 1 to 5.

This is an excellent hike ranging between moderate to hard depending in personal stamina. We did the complete 9.8 mile starting from North ridge, whittmore gulch, purisima Creek, Craig britton, Harkins ridge and back again North ridge.
elevation gain is good towards the last 2 miles. start early as it takes around 5-6 hours to complete

Generally: easy-moderate trail, near SF in half-moon bay area with some views of the ocean, through redwood trees w some exposed ridge line, slightly less crowded than purisima loop from same trailhead
parking: free at trailhead and along road; road: paved all the way to trailhead
trail conditions: fairly well kept, wide, some trail some fireroad, not overgrown, very steep on the harkins ridge portion
scenery: some ocean views, some forest views, some redwood groves, overall decent bt not amazing

Go COUNTER CLOCKWISE! Did the Loop clockwise. Started at 9:15am. First 2/3 of the trail was shaded and scenic. Last 1/3 was steep and full of flies. Definitely a moderate/hard gorgeous hike.

Scenery: 4
Views: 4
Difficulty: 4
Crowds: 3
Shade: 3

My 1-5 Rating Scale Comparisons for above:
5 for Scenery; Mcway Falls Julia Pfeiffer Burns SP
4.5 for Scenery: Berry Creek Falls Big Basin State Park
4 for Scenery: Steep Ravine Trail

5 for Views: Nimitz Trail Tilden Park
5 for Views: Ridge Trail San Bruno Mtn Park
4.5 for Views Montara Mtn Summit San Pedro County Park
4 for Views Rancho Canada Del Oro Bald Peaks trail

5 for Difficulty: Junipero Serra Peak
4 for Difficulty: Mount El Sombroso Loop Trail

I had hoped to do the Whitemore Gulch and Purisma Creek Loop, but felt I was running out of daylight, and so came up the Harkness trail instead. I have to say it wasn't my favorite. After an initial pretty exposed portion along the beginning of North Ridge, this dips into pleasant shady Redwoods territory. Beside the beginning of the return loop near the creek -- where I saw a beautiful banana slug in the middle of the trail -- coming up the Harkness Ridge portion really was mostly a miserable slog in the heat. It might be better clockwise as others suggest, or early morning.

Great hike, beautiful surroundings - Moderately strenuous hike

We started from the North Ridge trail parking lot. It’s a really great hike with stunning views on the ocean, followed by being surrounded by the redwood trees. Then a rather easy walk along the creek, followed by a steep climb. It’s a proper workout in the end, but a very satisfying hike!

Nice shaded hike. The second mile (going up to grabtown gulch) was a bit intense, but completely shaded. There were quite a few mosquitos when we stopped to eat something, but they didn’t bother us as long as we kept moving. The creek itself was quite nice, and there was trickling water along many parts of the hike.

There weren’t too many people on the upper trails, and parking was okay. We got lucky and got an actual parking spot, but most people had parked along the road, turning it into a one lane road (not that it’s much more than one lane to begin with). The road up to the the trail from highway 1 is a bit curvy and narrow, but not too long.

Came here with 4 other friends on Labor Day weekend. Arrived at 10:30 and found parking I the road. The 6 miles uphill is mostly shady and not too steep, the 3 miles downhill is a little steep. Very few people on the trail. Peaceful and green trails, clear road signs and free maps at the trailhead. Really enjoyed the hike. Definitely 5 star!

Great Hike - easy to find TH but very little parking. Going down counter clockwise is steep - walking sticks helped. I extended by staying on the creek path - 1 mile each way. Coming up is gradual however it wasnt easy. As mentioned not much variety coming back up. Did not see one person until I got to Purisima Creek trail

This is a great hike. Started off of skyline and did Harkins ridge first since it was 9:30 am and already feeling the heat. It's even more beautiful once you are down in the groves. Take a few extra minutes and just sit there. Saw a handful+ of people but mostly had it to myself. I would say it is moderate to hard.

I would rate this moderate. Most of the route is well covered by trees and did not feel the heat at all. Beautiful views. Go early to get parking

One of the best kept secrets of the Bay Area

I love to do this hike but always do it in reverse. start and endon Purissima Creek Road. I like to get the hard work out of the way first and then coast downhill to finish

Loved the beginning and end of the hike. The part that runs along the creek. The other 4 miles were tough, but we did it. We took the 2nd right off of Purisma Creek Trail and hiked uphill for 1.5 miles, sat and refueled then followed the 2.5 mile decent back to Purisma Creek Trail, take a sharp left and take it to the parking lot. Take hiking stick(s) and plenty of water as well as a snack to give you fuel.

hiking
3 months ago

Good moderate trail with some inclines on the track. Some beautiful scenes of the Forrest on the way.

We went here yesterday, a Sunday in August, and didn't get onto the trail until around 1pm. We started on the Purisima Creek Trail, which was entirely shaded (which we prefer on a hot day!). There weren't too many other hikers, and we didn't see any horses, although we saw plenty of evidence of them on the trail. Craig Britton is a single file path, and still mostly shaded. There are some beautiful views of the coast and you can see above the fog. Once we got to Harkins trail, we were mostly in the sun and it got pretty hot. It gets more crowded towards the parking lots, and although there were some tourists towards the end of the trail, we didn't see many other hikers during the three hours we hiked. As far as wildlife, we saw some quail, a banana slug, and some other small birds. Can't wait to do it again!

Excellent hike for a hot day. There's maybe 100 feet of trail that gets sunlight on this route, so sunscreen is unnecessary. The climb sounds big at about 1,600 feet of elevation gain, but it does not feel like that much. Sadly, it appears that the trail which used to lead up to the top of Bald Knob is closed. You can get about 0.25 miles away from the peak before you find a closed gate. The gate says nothing about a trail closure or advising hikers to stay out, but what looks like it was once a trail is now overgrown with brush. Nevertheless, I really enjoyed this hike. There are many extremely beautiful areas on this route.

Did the Whitmore Gulch - Purisma - Craig Bitten. A total of 9.2 miles.
I would rate this Moderate

Like being in the Sierra’s in our back yard.

Good hike , view was disappointing

Beautiful hike and a great workout

Hike was beautiful! We took Harkins Ridge down and Whittemore Gulch back up and managed to be in the shade a majority of the time.

Beautiful forest, views (the ocean in Halfmoon Bay) and flowers.
If you are fit under 55 you can get started either way, otherwise I would go anti clockwise.

hiking
3 months ago

Started from Skyline Blvd, arrived at 9:45 on a Sunday and the parking lot was full. However, the trails were fairly quiet, garbage free and sparcely populated. Whittemore Gulch Trail was beautiful: Redwoods, shady, ferns, etc, but all downhill. Harkins Ridge was a killer. STEEP uphill and in the sun. Not pleasant at all. Did see two little foxes running across the trail.

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