Purisima Creek Redwoods Open Space Preserve


What? : Redwood forest, high mountains and deep creeks.

Where? : The park is located on the west slopes of Santa Cruz mountain ridge, west of skyline road (hwy 35).

The main park entrance located north of the junction of Kings Mountain Road and hwy 35.

The second one located 2.1 miles to the north on hwy 35, this is North Ridge trailhead. The third park entrance is Higgins Road Trailhead on the lower section of the park not so far from Half Moon Bay and hwy 1.

Google Map Link


When? : Year round, this park is good for the summer because the large redwood protects from the direct sun and create colder clime. During winter the dance redwood trees protect from rain and wind.

Due note: I started my visit from Higgins Road Trailhead. This is the best point to start your hike but unfortunately there are only 6 parking spots!

Come early morning or late afternoon.

Most people do not find parking spot and park on the roadside, risking with getting ticket.


My thoughts: I visit here on a rainy February day and enjoy it very much. I came around 1pm so I manage to find parking spot (many cars parked on the roadside). The redwoods protect me from the rain, the streams had running water and the hike was great and not so muddy.


The visit:


The park mountain ridges, and two deep canyons are covered with dense second-growth redwoods forest; The original redwood forest was logged in the late 1800s.


Main park entrance and the North Ridge Trail trailhead located on Skyline Boulevard (Highway 35), 4.5 miles south of the junction with Highway 92.


As I mentioned above, I started my hike at the lower west side section of the park. From hwy 1, south of Half Moon Bay take Verde road and keep into Purisima Creek road to park small parking lot.


The hike:

I did 9 miles loop with 1,600f elevation gain.

The hike starts at the base of the Santa Cruz Mountains and climb all the way up to Skyline Ridge, with a lot of climbing. I recommend doing the loop counterclockwise, in that direction the trail start with an easy section that gradually climb up along the river creek.

Starting at the small trailhead heading to Purisima Creek trail. This is wide old logging road maintained at good condition with few bridges crossing the stream from side to side. The redwood forest here is in it best, towering above covering the sky.

After a short steep section, you will rich a small trail going to your left. Get into the single-track Craig Britton Trail (formerly the Soda Gulch Trail). This is enjoyable narrow trail, climbing gradually at hillside high above a creek below. You will cross 2 major creeks and the trail will continue to climb up, out of the dense forest. 4.8 miles from your starting point the trail will connect to Harkins Ridge Trail (wide well-maintained fire road).

Here you have the option to go down (left) on the Harkins Ridge Trail, hiking 2 miles down the ridge will bring you back to the parking lot.

If you will turn right, you will keep climbing for additional 1 mile until you will reach North Ridge Trail (not so far from hwy 35 to your right).

Turn left and soon you will start descending, after 0.5 mile take the single-track exit on your left into Whittemore Trial. The trail is going above the main road and after 0.6 mile you need to turn left and keep going down into the deep ravine below.

From this point additional 2.2 miles at the bottom of the creek will take you all the way to the parking lot.


You can connect to this loop hike also from the upper park parking lot, but this will add additional mileage and climbing to your hike.