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A shaded hike through second growth redwood forests.

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1,712' 522 m


614' 187 m


1,240' 378 m


1,238' 377 m



Avg Grade (6°)


Max Grade (20°)

Dogs No Dogs

Purisima Creek Redwoods Open Space Preserve is open half an hour before sunrise to half an hour after sunset.


The combination of the Grabtown Gulch Trail and the Borden Hatch Mill Trail allows you to create a lollipop loop hike that descends through a second growth redwood forest down to Purisima Creek and then climb back up to where you started.

The trail moves away from the Tunitas Creek road and passes under the shade of the forest around you. As you move away from the road, you can appreciate the sounds of nature (birds chirping, the wind blowing through the trees) due to the remote nature of this part of the preserve.

The trail narrows and follows a creek drainage down to Purisima Creek, where you can explore the creek area and the redwood groves here if you want to make a detour. When you are ready to go back to your vehicle, you can take the Borden Hatch Mill Trail back up hill to where you parked.

The trail is less steep than the Grabtown Gulch Trail as it follows an old road as it follows the mountain side, making the climb back uphill easier. It is the perfect place to hike if you need a place to hike that is away from the crowds and provides a quiet place to think.

This part of the hike also provides access to the Bald Knob Trail if you want to extend your adventure in a less traveled part of the preserve. After 4.5 miles, you emerge at the junction with Grabtown Gulch Trail and can hike the third of a mile back to the road where you parked.

This route can be done in reverse if you prefer a less steep descent and a steeper ascent, it is all personal preference as the elevation gain and loss is the same either way.

Need to Know

There are no services along the trail, so make sure that you bring enough water and food for the hike. The nearest restroom is at the end of Purisima Creek Trail (1 mile from the bottom of the trail), so practice Leave No Trace principles.


To access this hike, park along the Tunitas Creek Road in one of the pullouts. There is space for 12-15 cars along the road, so it is probably best to get there early in the morning to get a space. The trail enters the preserve and follows the preserve boundary. The trail climbs gently before it starts to descend to the junction with the Borden Hatch Mill Trail at the 0.3 mile mark.

You could take the Borden Hatch Mill Trail to the left if you want, but it is easier to drop down the steeper section of Grabtown Gulch Trail. The trail begins to descend steeply downhill into the preserve. The further you get away from the road, you become aware that the only sounds are those created by the environment around you. You can hear the wind blowing through the trees and you can hear the birds chirping in the woods around you. Moss and ferns line the trail.

The trail narrows to a singletrack as it gets deeper into the preserve. The trail approaches the creek bed at 1.4 miles and runs along it until the trail emerges on the Purisima Creek Trail. Turn to the left when you get to the junction and follow the trail along Purisima Creek for roughly one tenth of a mile. The trail is wide at this point and more heavily traveled. The Borden Hatch Mill Trail breaks off to the left and starts to climb uphill through the forests.

On the right side of the trail, you can see the sunlight as it comes over the ridges in the morning and starts to light up the trees on the other side of the creek. The trail moves away from the creek and winds its way uphill. The trail is a double wide dirt and gravel trail at this point. In the steeper sections of the climb, gravel helps prevent erosion and makes it easier to get up the hill if the trail is damp.

In the mornings, sunlight can be seen breaking through the woods creating a spotlight on rocks and trees. After 4.25 miles, the Bald Knob Trail breaks off to the right and climbs into a different part of the preserve. Continue climbing uphill for another two tenths of a mile until you get back to the junction with the Grabtown Gulch Trail. From here, break off to the right and follow the trail back to the gate along Tunitas Creek Road.

Flora & Fauna

You are hiking through a redwood forest. There are redwood trees in the area. Ferns and mosses are prevalent.

History & Background

From the Purisima Creek Redwoods site:

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.


Shared By:

David Hitchcock

Trail Ratings

  4.7 from 6 votes


  4.7 from 6 votes
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52 Views Last Month
2,098 Since Jan 4, 2021
Intermediate Intermediate



Climbing up Grabtown Gulch
Feb 25, 2019 near Woodside, CA
Sun breaks through the trees in the morning.
Jan 4, 2021 near Woodside, CA
Looking downhill at a bridge that crosses Purisima Creek.
Jan 4, 2021 near Woodside, CA
In the morning, the hike is cool as fog lays in the valley.
Jan 4, 2021 near Woodside, CA
The Grabtown Gulch Trail is well manicured in this spot.
Jan 28, 2017 near Woodside, CA
The Bald Knob trail is a singletrack dirt trail lined with ferns as it moves away from the Borden Hatch Mill Trail.
Jan 4, 2021 near Woodside, CA



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