Hiking Purisima Creek Redwoods
It’s basically been raining in the Bay Area for the last 2 months. Save for a couple patches of sunlight here and there, I’m beginning to think I live in the Pacific Northwest. The gloomy weather has made outdoor climbing more or less nonexistent. Our favorite local crag, Castle Rock, is soaked. Yosemite Valley and Bishop have mostly been under snow, or just too wet to climb. Most of my free time has been spent training or hibernating or some combination of the two. Finally, this past weekend, we decided to get out and stretch our legs; rain or shine. Our pick was Purisima Creek Redwoods Open Space Preserve just south of Half Moon Bay.
Due to the barrage of bad weather, this was one of the few parks within an hour’s driving distance that didn’t have many trail closures. However, at the time we went, the Northridge trail is partially closed and the Craig Britton trail is closed. (For most recent trail closures, visit the Midpeninsula Regional Open Space Trail Conditions page.) The Craig Britton trail closure put a bit of a damper on our plans. It connects the best two trails in the park to form a loop. Instead, we decided to hike Whittemore Gulch to North Ridge Trail until it ended to Harkins Ridge for a total of 8.1 miles.
Whittemore Gulch is a lovely trail that winds and ascends next to a creek to North Ridge. The North Ridge trail that heads west of the park was uneventful and uninspiring. It’s 100% skippable unless you’re looking to add mileage and some elevation gain. Hawkins Ridge is a wide trail on a fire road. It provides some views, but not much. It’s a bit exposed and barren, compared to being tucked inside the redwoods. If Craig Britton were open, we would have skipped Harkins Ridge and finished on the park’s namesake trail.
Conditions were muddy, but not terribly so. A pair of waterproof hiking boots or shoes would be very useful, along with a pair of pants you don’t mind getting dirty. We expected to get hit with rain. It only drizzled intermittently. Some sections of trails were experiencing erosion, but they are still passable and safe.