Purisima Creek Redwoods

How well do you know the Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District? I’m going to guess not as well as you SHOULD. (If you remember from this post, they also have introductory geocaching hikes for families!) We live in the East Bay, so it’s rather a haul to get there, but trails abound! Today’s focus is one of the largest pieces of land in the MROSD, but we hope to explore more in the coming months. Purisima Creek Redwoods stretches from Skyline Boulevard until almost Highway 1.

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The redwoods in Purisima Creek Canyon are second-growth Coastal Redwoods– only about 100 years old. Unfortunately, in the late 1800s and early 1900s, all the old growth redwoods were logged– some of them probably up to 1,000 years old. However, if you don’t think about the folly of humankind and weep at all we have destroyed in our crushing disregard for the natural world (to say nothing of other humans), you’ll probably enjoy yourself. The Craig Britton trail (formerly known as Soda Gulch, as it’s referred to in this post by yours truly in my previous blogging life) actually has some old-growth redwoods on it, but when I hiked it years ago, I was not able to distinguish which were new and which were old-growth.

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There are three entrances to Purisima Creek Redwoods. The main entrance is off Skyline Boulevard (Highway 35, not the East Bay Skyline Boulevard), about 5 miles from Highway 92. We hiked out of the second entrance most recently, which starts maybe 1.5 miles down from the main entrance– there is no sign here, but look carefully for a gate with a bathroom just beyond off to the right if you are coming from Highway 92. (Across the street is an entrance to Huddart Park, another hiking gem.) This second entrance is good if you want to do very little mileage– the Redwood trail is beautiful and meanders to some lovely picnic tables. You could wander to the picnic tables and back, or you could do a larger, 1 mile loop that involves going down the Purisima Creek trail for a moment, then looping back up Redwood trail.

The third entrance is the one I would most recommend, however. It starts at the other end of the Purisima Creek Trail–the flatter end. If you go from the Redwood Trail (second) entrance and take Purisima Creek, to get to the actual creek, you must descend about two miles, which obviously means that to go back to the car, you must climb for two miles. While we managed to throw enough snacks at the 3.5 year old so as to stave off the hangry toddler issue, having all the uphill come at the end of the hike is not always the best way to do things with small people. The Purisima Creek Road entrance is off Highway 1 (exit Verde Road), and this entrance leads you to the flat, flat side of the Purisima Creek trail. The trail follows Purisima Creek, sometimes crossing it on rather adorable bridges. (Bridges are a big hit for our smallest hiker.) The trail is a verdant explosion. Wildflowers have started to appear– look for more in the next couple of weeks. The day we went, we counted 23 banana slugs, but it was also pouring rain. Maybe you, too, will find such a wealth of gastropoda!

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The one big issue with the Purisima Creek Road entrance is the miniscule parking lot– MROSD says the parking lot holds 5 cars. I have seen more there, but it’s not exactly spacious. However, if you have a toddler or small child that wakes up at silly hours on the weekends, this is a good place to head to in order to get your parking spot!

This is also a wonderful place to hike year-round. We hiked it in the rain recently, and thanks to the redwoods, it’s not too muddy and the trees keep you from getting excessively wet. It’s also a perfect place to hike during the summer, as the shade provides cooling temperatures. Purisima Creek Redwoods is not a dog friendly place, but (amazingly!) several of the other preserves in the MROSD are. Either way, the Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District should be on your exploring radar!

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