Purisima Creek Trail

Purisima Creek Redwoods Open Space Preserve

San Francisco Peninsula + Santa Cruz, California

Start Exploring
Purisima Creek Trail


  • View from Highway 35W / Skyline Boulevard looking west toward Half Moon Bay.- Purisima Creek Trail
  • Highway 35W / Skyline Boulevard is a fun drive whether you're hiking or not.- Purisima Creek Trail
  • The trail entry has some great moss-covered stumps.- Purisima Creek Trail
  • Blankets of clover cover the ground in many areas near the trail entry.- Purisima Creek Trail
  • Moss-covered hillside along the first 200 yards of trail.- Purisima Creek Trail
  • The first of the rustic car parts found along the trail.- Purisima Creek Trail
  • Moss covers most of the towering redwood trees along the trails.- Purisima Creek Trail
  • Moss covers most of the towering redwood trees along the trails.- Purisima Creek Trail
  • You'll more than likely see these large banana slugs along the trails.- Purisima Creek Trail
  • Large redwood tree at the trail's edge.- Purisima Creek Trail
  • Purisima Creek meeting up with the trail.- Purisima Creek Trail
  • Well-groomed trails throughout.- Purisima Creek Trail
  • More auto wreckage along the Purisima Trail.- Purisima Creek Trail
  • Well-groomed trails throughout.- Purisima Creek Trail
  • An amazingly eerie tree at around 800 feet elevation.- Purisima Creek Trail
  • A sturdy bridge crosses over Purisima Creek.- Purisima Creek Trail
  • Towering redwoods.- Purisima Creek Trail
  • - Purisima Creek Trail
Overview + Weather
Towering redwood trees. Quiet. Well-kept trails.
Occasional weather-related closures.
San Francisco Peninsula + Santa Cruz, CA
Pets allowed: 
Net Elevation Gain: 
1,200.00 ft (365.76 m)
Parking Pass: 
Not Required
Preferable Season(s):
Winter, Spring, Summer, Fall
Suitable for:
Hiking, Biking, Horseback
Total Distance: 
5.80 mi (9.33 km)
Trail type: 
Trailhead Elevation: 
2,000.00 ft (609.60 m)
Current Local Weather:
Hike Description

Hike Description


The Purisima Creek Trail is part of the 24-mile network of beautifully developed trails and historical logging roads in the 4,711-acre Purisima Creek Redwoods Open Space Preserve. The Preserve was established in 1982 with a $2 million gift from the Save-the-Redwoods League to the Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District. This there-and-back trail totals roughly 5.9 miles to Grabtown Gulch Trail and back. Along the hike you will cross Purisima Creek, and you may get a few glimpses of the Pacific Ocean and Half Moon Bay. The trail is completely downhill, so make sure to save your energy for the hike back. If you choose to do the loop, you will add between 5 and 8 miles to your hike depending on the route you take. Plan on some steep elevation changes along the way. Along with the occasional hikers, you may run into a few mountain bikers and horseback riders.

The Purisima Creek Trail is well groomed and surrounded by towering redwood trees and sprawling ferns that offer cool shade on a hot day. The beginning of the hike is especially lush, with the lower end of the trail transitioning to a mix of redwoods, tanoak, madrone, Douglas fir, and sycamore trees. Toward the lower end of the trail, you will cross the bubbling Purisima Creek and see a few picturesque wooden bridges.

This hike can get a bit hot in the summer, so be sure to bring water. Weekends are a little busier and the parking lot can fill up quickly, so you may need to search for a spot along the highway. Restroom facilities are available near the Skyline Boulevard trailhead entrance and also down at the Higgins and Purisima Creek Trailhead entrance. The preserve is open from dawn until 30 minutes after sunset. These trails get dark quickly once the sun sets, so be sure to bring a flashlight if you are planning a hike later in the day. You may run into some seasonal closures if the rains are heavy, and you can call 650-691-1200 to check on conditions.

Note: Trailhead signs warn of ticks, poison oak, and rattlesnakes. This area is also part of the peninsula's mountain lion habitat, though sightings are rare.

Updates, Tips + Comments

Updates, Tips + Comments

Field Guide

Field Guide

Location + Directions

Location + Directions

Nearby Camping + Lodging

(13 within a 30 mile radius)

Nearby Adventures

(97 within a 30 mile radius)

Related Content

Related Content

Adventure Community

Adventure Community

Who Wants To Do It
45 Members
Who's Done It
30 Members
Submission by
35 Adventures Explored
6 Adventures Published

Newsletter Signup

Join the Outdoor Project Community

Get access to essential planning materials and information for your next adventure. Take a few seconds to join the community. It’s FREE!

Free Field Guides + Maps

Post Updates, Tips + Comments

Organize + Track Your Adventures

Insider Detailed Info, News + Benefits

Custom Driving Directions

Recommended Campsites, Photos + Reservation Info