Bald Knob – Purisima Redwoods

Bald Knob via the Purisima Creek Road parking area is a great hill climb loop under a lush redwood forest canopy in Purisima Creek Redwoods Open Space Preserve. The run starts with gradual incline along Purisima Creek (starting elevation 400ft). After 1 mile, the hill climb begins up the Borden Hatch Mill Trail which is a fireroad but a really nice one with gorgeous redwood forest canopy and soft surface. Some of the sections are steep, but they are always interspersed with flat sections for quad recovery.

Bald Knob Trail - photo by J.V. Littell from
Bald Knob Trail - photo by J.V. Littell from

After 2.5 miles and 1,200 feet of gain you reach the intersection with Bald Knob trail which is an awesome single track that goes out 1.3 miles and gains some more elevation.  The trail never ascends to the top of Bald Knob where I imagine there is a clear area with views. However, there are some spots where you can see the big relief out to the Pacific Ocean. I turned around at the end of the Bald Knob Trail, but continuing down on the Irish Ridge Trail would afford great unobstructed views – the only problem is that it goes downhill and there is no outlet so you must retrace your steps uphill – maybe next time.

After rejoining the Borden Hatch Mill Trail I continued up for 1/4 a mile to the intersection with the Grabtown Gulch Trail which is a steep 1.5 mile descent back down to Purisima Creek. This would be good option as a consistent steep hillclimb of 1,200 feet over 1.5 miles.

Total mileage is 9 miles with around 1,800 feet of elevation gain (67 minutes) – MAP:

  1. Purisima Creek Trail from lower parking lot
  2. Right on Borden Hatch Mill Trail
  3. Right on Bald Knob Trail
  4. Turnaround at end of Bald Knob Trail or continue down Irish Ridge Trail for later turnaround
  5. Right on Borden Hatch Mill Trail
  6. Left on Grabtown Gulch Trail
  7. Left on Purisima Creek Trail to finish

A good 13.8 mile loop with around 2,800 feet of gain would be to turn Right on Purisima Creek Trail after the Borden Hatch/Grabtown Loop and do Soda Gulch and Harkins Ridge back to the parking area.


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