Another fantastic run on some trails I have never run before at Purisima Creek Redwoods Open Space Preserve (map). I have always known of Purisima’s existence, but chose to run at neighboring El Corte de Madera Creek OSP because it seemed like there were more trails and options there. Indeed, while Purisima Creek Redwoods has fewer trails, particularly of the single-track variety, the setting and trails are highly enjoyable. I put together a great 10+ mile loop that seems to hit all the environments of this park – meadows, douglas fir and oak forest, and lush redwoods. There is also potential for a nice 14.2 mile loop by including the Borden Hatch Mill Trail and Grabtown Gulch Trails. The additional loop would include another major hill climb so it would be challenging.
Starting at the North Ridge Parking lot you immediately begin losing elevation along the North Ridge hiking trail and then the Whittemore Gulch Trail. The descent into Whittemore Gulch is very scenic with views down to the forest below and Half Moon Bay. Once in the woods, the path has some flatter sections to open the stride, but the path generally heads downhill until arriving at the depths of the Redwood Forest at Purisima Creek. The Purisima Creek trail is a wide path, but very nice as it travels through the thick redwood forest and is always near Purisima Creek. This section has some nice flatter running, but also some inclines thrown in.
The next section of the run is the Soda Gulch Trail which is the highlight of the loop. The 2.6 miles of singletrack are awesome with a soft surface and very runnable the entire way. After a couple miles in the redwood forest, the setting opens up into meadows as you gain elevation to join the Harkins Ridge Trail. Here you can look across the forested canyon to Bald Knob and the Pacific Ocean is close. Once at the Harkins Ridge Trail, there is a short section of very steep running and then a flatter section before the final climb up the North Ridge Trail to the parking lot. The view of North Ridge and Half Moon Bay is spectacular from the Harkins Ridge Trail.
Overall, starting at the North Ridge parking lot definitely puts the uphill work of the run at the end which wouldn’t be my preference, but it wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be. There are definitly flat sections to break up the elevation gain along Soda Gulch Trail and the upper part of the Harkins Ridge Trail. Of course, I could avoid finishing with a hill all together by starting at the Purisima Creek Trailhead at the low point of the park.
I have discovered another great park on the Peninsula to add to the lengthy list of great places to run around here! Purisima is unique in that it combines many of my favorite settings for trail running into one loop.
Location – Time (10+ miles) Map
North Ridge Parking Lot – 0:00
Junction with Purisima Creek Trail – 24:15
Junction with Soda Creek Trail – 41:02
Junction with Harkins Ridge Trail – 1:00:29
Finish – 1:12:45