Hike No. 22 – Hiking in the Clouds

Hiking in the clouds Purisima Creek Redwoods Hike No 22For Hike Number 22, I drove to San Mateo County, just north of Santa Clara County, in Northern California.  An easy drive up the 280 Freeway, very quick exit onto CA 92, and then a windy, foggy drive on Skyline Boulevard took me to Purisima Creek Redwoods OSP.  I would park at the top of the ridge and hike down approximately 1,600 feet through second growth Redwood Forests to a canyon trail running alongside picturesque Purisima Creek.  I would then loop around the creek and climb back up 1,600 feet to get back to the North Parking Lot.  This OSP is part of the Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District (MROSD) http://www.openspace.org/.


As I’ve mentioned in many previous posts, the MROSD does a terrific job of maintaining trails – in this case many old logging trails.  This area’s Redwood trees, many of them probably 500-1,000 years old, were logged in the late 1800’s to the early 1900’s.  A lot of the lumber was used to build San Francisco and nearby Half Moon Bay.

I mentioned in the introduction, it was an extremely foggy day in the Santa Cruz Mountains near the top of the ridge.  On a clear day, one can see the Pacific Ocean from many points on the trail.  But on this day, all I saw was a blanket of fog that seemed to muffle every sound my boots made as they were crunching oak leaves and pine needles.  To get the full affect, play “Misty Mountains” from “The Hobbit” as you look at the pictures!  😉

Hiking in the Clouds Purisima Creek Redwoods Hike No 22

Hiking in the clouds Purisima Creek Redwoods Hike No 22Oak Covered with Moss Hike No 22

Native Oak covered in moss tells us that this foggy day is quite normal for this area.

It wasn’t raining, this moisture is from the fog…one reason that Redwoods thrive in this area of the Northern California Coast:Water dripping for Douglass Fir Hike No 22Redwood Cathedral Hike No 22

1,600 feet and 3.2 miles from the top of the trail down to Purisima Creek.  By the time I reached the bottom of the lush canyon, my knees were screaming at me, “Stop and rest!”

Dense stand of Redwoods growing through the clouds!Purisima Creek Hike No 22Purisima Creek Hike No 22

Oops!  Along Purisima Creek Hike No 22Oops!  Bad “Hike No. 22” Shot…but, it does show just how green the forest is along Purisima Creek.  Redwood Sorrel was thick in patches near the creek:

Redwood Sorrel along the trail Hike No 22Crossing the Purisima Creek and Heading up Purisima Creek Trail…very slight uphill grade for about 2 miles.

Purisima Creek Hike No 22And, once on the other side of Purisima Creek, this is when I saw my first banana slug of the day.

Banana Slug Pursima Creek Redwoods OSPTowards the end of the trail, you will climb 400-500 feet up to meet the Craig Britton Trail.  This part of the trail is also part of the Bay Area Ridge Trail network http://www.ridgetrail.org/


Hiking through the Redwoods Hike no 22Redwoods and Douglas Fir Hike No 22

Alongside the Craig Britton Trail, I saw 7-10 redwood stumps showing evidence of the logging that was done so long ago.  I was able to find a picture on Google Images – lower picture circa 1915 – that shows lumberjacks standing on boards that fit tightly into the notches chopped into the redwoods…you can see these notches in the upper picture.

Evidence of Past Logging Hike No 22lumberjacks-redwood-9[6]The Craig Britton Trail winds alongside the ridge, gradually climbing up 500 feet over 2.6 miles.  Some of this trail wandered out from under the dense forest canopy and, as the fog receded back to the Pacific Ocean, I saw some wildflowers blooming.21-DSC_574223-DSC_576024-DSC_5765

This old fence marked the end of the Craig Britton Trail and the junction with the Harkins Ridge Trail that would take me up another 500 feet over a mile and back to the parking lot.

Old Fence Hike No 22Ahhh!

Stretching the feet after 10 miles!  Hike No 22

Mileage: 10.2 miles – A “Balloon” shaped Hike

Elevation Gain/Loss: approximately 3,200 feet

I would rate this 10.2 mile hike as strenuous!  The trails themselves are mostly old logging roads.  The Harkins Ridge trail is very steep on the way down to Purisima Creek…hiking poles are very helpful along this section.  The Craig Britton Trail is narrower and climbs up and out of a deep redwood canyon along the side of the ridge.  While hiking at Purisima Creek OSP, I saw many Second Growth Redwood Trees, Fir Trees, coast live oak, ferns, Redwood Sorrel, and some wildflowers.  A strenuous but very scenic hike through a Redwood Forest.  The fog along the upper Harkins Ridge Trail added a blanket of mystery that was fun! Trails: Harkins Ridge  / Purisima Creek / Craig Britton / Harkins Ridge.

Great time as always in The Santa Cruz Mountains!  Well, that’s 22 hikes and 130.7 miles!  18 hikes and 69.3 miles to go.  Until next time, if you are looking for me, I’m over the hill.

3 thoughts on “Hike No. 22 – Hiking in the Clouds

  1. I really like your website! I am always looking forward to your next post. My hubby and I are hikers, too – we have been hiking once a week for several years now, regardless of weather conditions – and truly appreciate reading what others think about the places we ourselves love so much! Cannot beat hiking in the Bay Area! Have fun and keep the posts coming!😊


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