Wild Flowers! Purisima Creek Redwoods OSP: Harkins Ridge 7 Mile Moderate Hike

GPS Location: 3605 Higgins Canyon Rd, Half Moon Bay, CA 94019

Distance: 7 miles, Loop

Hiking Time: 3 to 5 hours

Elevation  Gain/ Loss: ± 1150 feet

Difficulty: Moderate 

Best Times: All year

Agency MROSD 

Park Rules  No Dogs

Recommended Map Purisima Creek Redwoods Open Space Preserve (MROSD) http://www.openspace.org/preserves/maps/pr_purisima.pdf

HIGHLIGHTS Using the Harkins Ridge Trail, this invigorating loop starts by climbing more than 1000 feet, from the shady confines of redwood-lined Purisima Creek to a ridge with superb views of Half Moon Bay and the surrounding hills. The relaxing return is via the delightful Soda Gulch and Purisima Creek trails, giving you an opportunity to learn about and enjoy the redwood-forest community that still thrives here despite extensive logging in the 19th and early 20th centuries.

DIRECTIONS From the intersection of Highway 1 and Higgins Purisima Road south of Half Moon Bay, take Higgins Purisima Road east 4.5 miles to a parking area, left.

FACILITIES/ TRAILHEAD None at the trailhead, which is at gate PC05, on the east side of the parking area. There is a toilet about 100 yards east on the Purisima Creek Trail.

The Official Story: http://www.openspace.org/preserves/pr_purisima.asp

MROSD field office:[masked] 

Follow the Purisima Creek Trail, a dirt road, into a dense, secluded forest. After several hundred feet, you turn left, crossing lovely Purisima Creek on a wood bridge, and then come to a T-junction with the Harkins Ridge and Whittemore Gulch trails. The forest here includes coast redwood, red alder, bigleaf maple, and tanbark oak. The understory is made up of common shrubs such as coffeeberry, thimbleberry, gooseberry, creambush, and elk clover. Growing beside the road are shade-loving wildflowers such as miner’s lettuce, hedge nettle, forget-me-not, and two species of fairy bells, Hooker’s and Smith’s. A right turn puts you on the gently rolling Harkins Ridge Trail, a dirt road that for a while runs parallel to the redwood-bordered creek. The grade steepens, and soon you begin a series of sweeping switchbacks that bring you to a brighter, more open realm. The view to your right takes in the canyon holding Purisima Creek and the ridge rising just south of the creek to Bald Knob, more than 2000 feet above sea level. At one of the road’s right-hand switchbacks, you have a fine vantage point that looks west toward Half Moon Bay and the Pacific Ocean. Finally gaining a ridgetop, you follow it uphill over rough ground. In places the grade is very steep, stretching your calf muscles to their limit. Otherwise it is a long, steady climb on a moderate grade. At about 2.1 miles, you meet the Soda Gulch Trail, part of the Bay Area Ridge Trail. Here you turn right and follow the single-track trail, closed to bicycles and horses, across an open slope of coastal scrub.

Flower Bonanza Various wildflowers associated with redwood forests grow nearby, including redwood sorrel, which has clover-like leaves and pink flowers; columbine, told by its beautiful orange-and-yellow blossoms; starflower, each with a delicate flower held aloft on a thread-like stem; and red clintonia, a member of the lily family that produces clusters of pink blooms in early summer and blue berries later in the year.

Now descending via switchbacks, you pass a beautiful stand of coast live oaks, their twisted, gnarled limbs draped with lace lichen. A sudden transition brings you into the realm of the redwoods. A rest bench, left, invites you to spend a few minutes contemplating these towering giants in cool and shady surroundings. Some of the trees are fire-scarred, and some grow in so-called family circles around a fallen ancestor. As you continue to lose elevation on a gentle grade, you pass a second rest bench and several seasonal creeks. Soda Gulch, another tributary of Purisima Creek, is downhill and right. When you reach Soda Gulch, turn sharply right to cross a bridge that spans the creek bed. Soon the route emerges briefly onto an open hillside before ducking back into the redwoods. You descend to an unnamed tributary of Purisima Creek and cross it on a bridge, then zigzag uphill meet the Purisima Creek Trail, a dirt road, at about 4.7 miles.

Join the road by bearing right, then follow it downhill to Purisima Creek, which flows under the road through a culvert. You enjoy a level walk through a riparian corridor lush with red alder, hazelnut, elk clover, and red elderberry. Soon a bridge takes you across Purisima Creek, which is now on your left. The creek from Soda Gulch joins from the right, and you cross it on the next bridge. Look here for tiger lilies in late spring. On the left is a remnant of a bridge that once spanned Purisima Creek and provided a link with the Grabtown Gulch Trail until it was washed out during a flood. Descend on a moderate grade to the creek and cross it on a bridge, soon passing a junction with the Borden Hatch Mill Trail, left. One of Purisima Canyon’s many lumber mills stood in a nearby clearing. At about 7 miles, you pass a toilet, left, and then close the loop at the connector to the Whittemore Gulch and Harkins Ridge trails, right. From here, go straight and retrace your route about 100 yards to the parking area.

Content from Weintraub, David [masked]). Afoot and Afield: San Francisco Bay Area: A Comprehensive Hiking Guide

Join or login to comment.

  • Kal

    Great effort everyone ! Please come back for Yosemite next week, or Tilden and Uvas the following week. And, I am always looking for suggestions that you can send me privately using Meetup email.

    May 11

  • Kal

    Your accomplishment for today: Distance 7.3 mi, Elapsed Time: 3:21:05, Moving Time: 3:07:45, Stopped Time: 0:13:20, Speed: Avg: 2.2 mph, Avg Moving: 2.3 mph, Max: 8 mph, Elevation: Min 398 ft, Max 1530 ft, Total Ascent: 1261 ft, Total Descent 1351 ft.

    May 11

  • heidi

    The hike was fantastic...loved the forest and the open space...perfect location.

    May 11

  • Marzban

    Awesome hike with awesome people! Thanks Kal for organizing and pushing through all the way! Also fun dinner after! Great day! :-)

    May 11

  • Elisa

    Thank you Kal! Great hike and fun dinner!

    May 11

  • Martin S.

    This was a great hike. Nice find Kal!

    May 11

  • Suzanna

    Beautiful trail. Excellent hiking group. I was impressed with Kal and Marty's conscientious lead and sweep to ensure the entire group had a safe hike. Thank you.

    May 10

  • Corlon B.

    OMG... sorry I missed it. I have a serious issue with heights. My daughter and I drove up this one lane cliff road and I panicked and had her turn in a drive way and turn around. We ended up going to another area.

    May 11

  • Laura B.

    Such a good time. Thank you Kal for making the arrangements and letting us flower lovers stop to smell the roses!

    May 10

  • Vasa

    Very glad I joined you today!

    May 10

  • Val

    Sorry to miss it!

    May 10

  • Rebecca W.

    Stuck in traffic and GPS tooke to the wrong place. Ended up in the middle of nowhere. Am walking along beach by myself now. LOL!

    May 10

  • Rebecca W.

    Stuck in traffic and GPS tooke to the wrong place. Ended up in the middle of nowhere. Am walking along beach by myself now. LOL!

    May 10

  • Gintare

    Ran into traffic in the city so we'll be late and probably won't be able to catch up with the group

    May 10

  • heidi

    Hi, where do we park if parking lot is full? Thanks

    May 10

    • Suzanna

      Heidi, take a look at Kal ' s comments from May 1st. It looks like we park along the purissima creek road.

      May 10

    • heidi

      Thank you Susanna

      May 10

  • Romesh

    Hi, I am coming from Sunnyvale. I can give/take ride for carpool. Please txt/whatsapp at[masked] 4076. thanks.

    May 10

  • heidi

    Hi, looks like we are meeting at the parking lot and parking is limited. If someone has been to this site, can you share if parking is difficult? If unable to find parking, are there other places close by to park? Thank you.

    May 9

  • Laurie

    Hi, Is anyone going by a BART station (Berkeley, Oakland, or SF), who could give me a ride to the trailhead? thanks a lot, Laurie

    May 7

    • Laurie

      Hey Neil, Can I meet you at SSF BART? thx, laurie

      May 8

    • Laurie

      Neil, I just heard back from Laura, so she's going to give me a ride.- thx again

      May 8

  • Laurie

    Thanks so much Laura and Neil. Laura, I can meet you at Glen Park BART at 11:23 or 11:43. Let me know which one is best for you.thx. [masked]

    May 7

    • Laura B.

      Hi Laurie, I sent you an email with my phone number. The 11:23 will work best.

      May 8

  • Shanu T.

    Have to go out of town for work hate to miss a gud hike

    May 7

  • Steven N.

    Hi all. Hope all is well. Really looking forward to this hike as Half Moon Bay and surrounding areas are gorgeous this time of year. Hope to see everyone there.

    May 6

  • jane

    hi, i am at southbay, get a ride from someone? will chip in fees.

    April 14

    • Suzanna

      Jane, it looks like we have a full car with you, Sarah (Xiaoyin), Winnie and Sue riding along with me. Google maps indicates we near and hour and 15 minutes to get to our destination from Sunnyvale. Can you meet us at the Sunnyvale train station at 11:30 on Saturday?

      May 5

    • jane

      sure. i will wait at the entrance and will send you my phone number. see you all!

      May 6

  • Anne M.

    Can't get back from business trip on Friday, as originally planned. Sorry I will miss this hike.

    May 6

  • Corina Almagro G.

    Hi, this is my first time on the meetup... How and where would we meet for this hike? thanks!

    May 1

    • Kal

      Add 15 minutes to the google maps suggestion to find parking and walk. You can drag the route with your mouse in Google maps to explore different route options. Please try it with what I suggested in my first reply.

      May 2

    • Corina Almagro G.

      thanks for all your.answers! i am finally going to yosemite his weekend so i will have to wait until the next hike to officially join the group :)

      May 5

  • A former member
    A former member

    Hi, is it ok to bring dogs? Thanks!

    May 3

    • Kal

      I have updated the event description with "Park Rules: No Dogs". The location does not allow dogs. Thanks for asking.

      May 4

    • Kal

      Diamela, why don't you come on our dog friendly hike on Sunday June 1st?

      May 4

  • Kal

    Btw, this hike is not this Saturday May 3rd, but a week away on May 10th.

    May 1

  • Susie

    Awesome hike. I just did it last month.

    April 22

  • victoria s.

    Hi anyone from San Francisco going?Please email me at vsargent14@yahoo .com

    April 21

Create your own Meetup Group

Get started Learn more
Katie

I'm surprised by the level of growth I've seen since becoming an organizer, it's given me more confidence in my abilities.

Katie, started NYC ICO

Start your Meetup today

Act now and get 50% off.
Until February 1.

Sign up

Meetup members, Log in

By clicking "Sign up" or "Sign up using Facebook", you confirm that you accept our Terms of Service & Privacy Policy