Hiker on the Borden Hatch Trail in Purisima Creek Redwoods Preserve by Karl Gohl.

Purisima Creek Redwoods Preserve

Status Update

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Status Update

Short Description
Please be aware that the parking areas at lower Purisima Creek Redwoods are often full on weekends. Overflow parking is not available at this location and there is no way to safely wait for parking to open up. Please be prepared to make alternate plans.
Hiker on the Borden Hatch Trail in Purisima Creek Redwoods Preserve by Karl Gohl.

Overview

Purisima Creek Redwoods Open Space Preserve is located on the western slopes of the Santa Cruz Mountains overlooking Half Moon Bay. The centerpiece of this 5,412-acre preserve is Purisima Creek Canyon, with its towering redwoods, rushing creek, and understory of ferns, berries, and wildflowers. Magnificent views of the coast and Half Moon Bay are visible from the northern part of the preserve.

The preserve was established with a gift of $2 million from the Save-the-Redwoods League.

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Hiking: All Trails
Hiking: All Trails
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Bicycling: Designated Trails
Bicycling: Designated Trails
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Equestrian: Designated Trails
Equestrian: Designated Trails
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Dogs on Leash: Not Permitted
Dogs on Leash: Not Permitted
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Easy Access: Designated Trails
Easy Access: Designated Trails
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Camping: No Camping
Camping: No Camping
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Restrooms: Available
Restrooms: Available

Preserve Highlights & Features

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Redwood forest on Midpen land by Claire Dawkins.

Coast Redwoods

When dinosaurs roamed the earth, redwoods were the dominant trees in the Northern hemisphere. Today, coast redwoods are only found along the coast in a narrow band rom southern Oregon to just south of Monterey.

Coast redwoods are the tallest trees in the world, growing up to 380 feet tall (38 stories). The oldest known age of a redwood is 2,200 years, although the average mature age is 500 to 1,000 year old. Most trees at Purisima Creek Redwoods Preserve are about 100 years old. They make up what is called a second-growth forest. The original redwood forest was logged in the late 1800s - 1900s. The largest redwoods were probably close to 1,000 years old when they were cut, with diameters between 10 and 20 feet. The large stumps along the Purisima Creek Trail are evidence of these trees. 

Stories from the Preserves

The Santa Cruz Mountain redwoods and the people who visit them are deeply intertwined with the fate…

Nature

Here are some of the plants and animals that other visitors have observed at this preserve and recorded in iNaturalist. Protected species may be excluded and some species may not yet have been observed. Help improve iNaturalist by adding your observations to the Midpen Biodiversity Index project

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Know Before You Go

Preserve regulations help provide a safe, enjoyable visit while protecting sensitive areas and wildlife. 

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YIELD. Bicycles yield to hikers and equestrians. HIkers yield to equestrians.

Share the Trail 

  • Use designated trails to avoid damage to natural resources and prevent injury. 

  • Avoid blocking the trail. Step aside to allow others to pass .  

  • Whether you’re walking or biking, always yield to equestrians. 

  • Leave no trace. Pack out what you pack in. Most preserves do not have trash cans. Littering is prohibited. 

  • Abuses of trail etiquette should be brought to the attention of a ranger or call the Midpen main office at 650-691-1200. 

Activities & Events

There are currently no events scheduled.

History

By the early 1900s, all of the trees that were not too small, too twisted, or too inaccessible were gone from Purisima Canyon. There are seven recorded mill sites along the creek banks in this preserve. Evidence of these sites can be seen today. The redwood was used for shingles in the building of San Francisco after the Gold Rush, and for lumber for the development of Half Moon Bay, include the construction of a flume on Montara Mountain. Along the Purisima Creek Trail, visitors can see many of the cleared area that were once the sites of these sawmills.