The Purisima Creek Redwoods open space preserve is located 9 miles southeast of Half Moon Bay, California. Directions from downtown Half Moon Bay: take CA-1 south for 4.2 miles, turn left onto Verde Road which quickly becomes Purisima Creek Road, and take Purisima Creek Road for 3.5 miles until you reach the parking lot. Parking is free but limited so latecomers will likely have to park on the side of the road. Hiking, mountain biking (helmets required), and horseback riding are allowed but dogs are not. Restrooms are provided but water is not. Cell phone service was intermittent.
We hiked 1.2 miles east on the Purisima Creek Trail starting from its western end for an out and back of about 2.5 miles. We chose this trail because we wanted something easy and fun. We had a large group that consisted of casual hikers, a two year old, and a four year old. It turned out to be a great choice and everyone had a blast. As you can see in the chart below, the trail has a narrow range of elevation.
The trail is wide, smooth, gradually sloping, and more of a walk than a hike. In addition to hikers, we saw several mountain bikers who looked liked they were having a great time. Based on the map, it looks there are two to three fun mountain biking loops. Noteworthy, the trailhead included signs explaining what to do in the event that you encounter mountain lions, rattlesnakes, ticks, and/or poison oak.
The redwoods were visually stunning, the sounds from Purisima Creek were relaxing, and the scent of eucalyptus was pleasantly ubiquitous.
The redwoods tower over the trail almost completely blocking out the sun and, thus, it felt cooler on the trail than it did in town.
In addition to redwoods, banana slugs were a treat to see. Our toddlers were especially enthralled with them.
We saw numerous banana slugs crossing the trail and a few crawling on trees. They were all very active and appeared accustom to sharing the trail with hikers.
After a peaceful and relaxing walk, we turned around shortly after crossing the following bridge. More ambitious hikers can easily go on longer adventures since the park includes several other connecting trails. This hike represented the three year anniversary of my purchase of my merrell outland hiking boots, which are still in great shape after over 300 miles of hiking.
In sum, Purisima Creek Redwoods offers easy and fun walking/hiking that is less than 30 minutes from downtown Half Moon Bay. If you’ve never seen redwoods then I highly recommend visiting this park. In addition, I recommend camping at Big Sur and hiking Muir Woods, both of which have larger redwoods than what I saw at Purisima Creek.