Recently I went down to Half Moon Bay and decided to hike the Purisima Creek to Grabtown Gulch to Borden Hatch Mill Loop. I’ve been to the Purisima Creek Redwoods Open Space before when we were out for vacation. I enjoyed it last time, so I thought it would be fun to come back.
What is the Purisima Creek Redwoods Open Space Preserve?
It’s the first preserve west of Skyline Boulevard as you travel south from CA 92. There are also plenty of trails outside of the Purisima Creek to Grabtown Gulch to Borden Hatch Mill Loop. It’s a popular park for hikers, runners, and cyclists due to the proximity of San Francisco. It has the second tallest Redwood Trees in the country, plus views of mountains and the ocean. You can see more information here.
What Makes Purisima Creek Redwoods Open Space Preserve so Popular?
- Ranges of elevation from 400 feet to 2100.
- Wide, smooth dirt-covered, multiuse trails
- Plenty of shade for summer months
- Coast Redwoods: Redwood Trees are one of the oldest and tallest types of trees in the world. Coast redwoods are only found along the coast in a small area from Oregon to Monterey. Some Coast Redwoods can reach a height of 360 feet and an age of 2200 years old. Most of the Coast Redwoods at Purisima Creek Redwoods Open Space Preserve is about 100 years old. They are also huge and the diameter can be between 10 and 20 feet. Who knew I had a favorite tree?
There are plenty of different loops at Purisima Creek Redwoods Open Space ranging from 3-14+ miles including:
- Purisima Creek to Grabtown Gulch to Borden Hatch Mill Loop
- Whittemore Gulch Trail, North Ridge Trail
- Harkins Ridge Trail
- Craig Britton Trail and Purisima Creek Trail
One thing to note is parking can be a nightmare. I arrived on a weekday and snagged the last spot, so I can only Purisima Creek Redwoods Open Space Preserve is packed on weekends.
Hiking the Purisima Creek to Grabtown Gulch to Borden Hatch Mill Loop:
The trail is rated as a moderate trail due to the elevation changes. You do climb about 1400 feet. There are plenty of ways to make the trail easier included out and back. Taking it the way descrived removed steep downhill which makes it a little easier.
As mentioned, I arrived on a weekday. I snagged the last parking space. After getting ready to go, I discovered there is a restroom at the trailhead. What great luck.
The first 1 mile is a flat, wide trail. Once you reach the trail junction at about 1 mile, you continue straight on Purisima Creek Trail. It’s a relatively flat grade. I nearly stepped on a few slugs, which I remember from last time being “a thing.”
Around 1.2 miles, you reach the junction for Grabtown Gultch Trail; you’ll want to continue straight. This is where grade increases, but it’s still a relatively easy climb. You go across a couple of bridges. Around 2.4 miles, the Purisima Creek Trail bends left, and you’ll keep going uphill. This is where the climb gets more challenging but not unmanageable.
Next atvPurisima Creek to Grabtown Gulch to Borden Hatch Mill Loop, you’ll turn left onto the Craig Britton Trail (which is a hiking-only trail).
Just under 5 miles, you’ll reach the Harkin Ridge Trail, which climbs back to the Purisima Creek Preserve Trailhead. If you’re feeling inclined, you can add a couple more miles by turning left onto North Ridge Trail and then heading back on Whittemore Gulch Trail.
The rest of the way back on the is fairly low key. The wider trailhead and easy to move trail makes it enjoyable. I love looking at the large pictures of Redwood Trees.
In all, the Purisima Creek to Grabtown Gulch to Borden Hatch Mill Loop is a beautiful and quiet loop. For just under 7 miles and roughly 1400 feet of elevation, it took me 2.5 hours. I didn’t power hike or rush through it although I didn’t stop a lot. Just to enjoy the views of the Coast Redwoods. While the Purisima Creek to Grabtown Gulch to Borden Hatch Mill Loop doesn’t have any “major views,” it is a beautiful hike the entire time. If you are looking for a way to “getaway,” I highly suggest it. I love looking at the Redwood Coast trees. If you take a trip to San Francisco or the Bay Area and are looking for a hike, I highly suggest it.
You can see more hikes here.
Questions for you:
Have you hiked Purisima Creek to Grabtown Gulch to Borden Hatch Mill Loop? Have you been to the Purisima Creek Redwoods Open Space?
What is your favorite hike?