On the first Saturday morning in 2021, my family of four hiked with another family of four in the Purisima Creek Redwoods Preserve. We were ski-buddies for the past 8 years, but this winter holiday we could not go skiing due to the Tahoe COVID-19 lockdown, so we decided to hike together wearing masks and staying 6 feet apart in a redwood forest. The Purisima Creek Redwoods Preserve is one of the 24 Open Space Preserves in the Midpeninsula region, and it offers 24 miles of trails overlooking the Half Moon Bay. You can click the image below to visit the website of Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District. 

Open Space List

We started our adventure at the main entrance near North Ridge trailhead located at 13184 Skyline Blvd, Redwood City, which is only 35 mins drive in light traffic from Cupertino. It was slightly raining with 100% humidity. This added more fun elements to our hike, and the dense fog surrounding the mountains transported us to a fairyland.


Following the Harkins Ridge trail, we hiked from east to the west connecting to the Whittemore Gulch trail, and looped back on the North Ridge trail. It took us 2.5 hr to cover 7.38 miles with 1801 ft elevation change. The Harkins Ridge trail is a mostly downhill wide pathway about 3 miles long. At the bottom, we had a picnic next to the Purisima Creek. Public restrooms are available at this location.

At the creekside, kids were so excited to spot many banana slugs on the fallen leaves. It was such a pleasure to breathe freely and enjoy our lunch next to the bubbling creek. After the picnic, we were headed on the way back. Going uphill on Whittemore Gulch, a narrow hiking-only trail, was not as challenging as going downhills on Harkins Ridge, especially in the rain. Talking to each other along the way certainly made the climb more pleasant.

Purisima Creek

Overall, we had a great workout and wonderful time hiking on this loop trail in the Purisima Creek Redwoods Preserve. If it’s a clear day, we would be able to see the Half Moon Bay coastline from the highest point on the North Ridge trail. We will certainly come back to hike again exploring other trails, such as Redwood Trail, Purisima Creek Trail, Borden Hatch Mill Trail, and Grabtown Gulch Trail.

If you will be there for the first time, highly recommend you print a map at home from the park website, because no paper maps are available at the entrance. The map conveniently marks all the trails wider than 6 feet. These wide trails would also be great for mountain bikers on sunny days.

The only downside we experienced was the limited parking space. The parking area for the North Ridge trailhead can hold about 30 cars. When we arrived, all spots were taken, so we parked along the road. The other two entrances have an even smaller parking area. According to the website, the Redwood trailhead has 11 spots, and the west entrance of Purisima Creek trailhead has only 5 spots. It’d be better to visit there during the weekdays or arrive early on weekends. After all, the spectacular views and great workouts on redwood mountains are truly worth it!