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San Francisco Hike Details

  Purisima Creek Redwoods Open Space Preserve - North Ridge Trail  
Trail - Purisima Creek Redwoods Open Space Preserve - North Ridge Trail
11:00 am

Map | Aerial photos | Website | More details
Area San Francisco
Address 37.42924,-122.31298
Elevation 651.00 m ( 2100 ft )
Change 372.00 m ( 1200 ft )
Distance 6.28 km ( 3.90 miles )
Difficulty Easy
Lat / Long 37.42924, -122.31298
Special instructions   Matt (mhat) and Lexi (radiantsun) are coming to visit the Bay Area, so we're planning a hike!

Afterwards, we're planning to meet for lunch at the Oceanic Chinese Restaurant:


They have a nice selection for both meat eaters and vegetarians.

If you have any questions, please give me a call at (650) 773 6419.

Directions  The preserve's main entrance and the North Ridge Trail trailhead are located on Skyline Boulevard (Highway 35) 4.5 miles south of Highway 92. From Interstate 280 in San Mateo County, exit CA 92 west. Drive to the junction with CA 35 (Skyline Boulevard), and turn south. Drive about 4.25 miles, to the signed parking lot on the right side of the road.

Parking is available for 20 cars.

The Good  Mixture of trees and open space chaparral. Easy parking.

The Bad  Dogs are not permitted in the preserve. There is no public transportation to the preserve.

Where  4.25 miles south on CA-35 (Skyline Blvd) of the CA-92 and CA-35 intersection

Notes  I haven't hiked the trail yet, so I have no first hand experience with it.

Jane Huber has this to say:


Purisima Creek Redwoods Open Space Preserve's main trailhead on Skyline BoulevardPhoto of the hiking only trail which runs along North Ridge Trail offers the quickest and easiest starting point for me, but I realized recently that I visit this northernmost staging area less frequently than the others. What kept me from beginning there was the steep initial portion of North Ridge Trail, which makes for a heart pounding return to the trailhead after a long loop hike. Then on my last visit I discovered the hiking only path than runs along North Ridge Trail. It's slightly longer, but gently graded. This path, part of the Bay Area Ridge Trail segment through Purisima, makes a big difference if you dislike steep climbs.
Once past the initial drop from the trailhead, there are a few choices for loop and out-and-back hikes. Harkins Ridge and Whittemore Gulch make a good 7 mile circuit, but unless you're a glutton for steep ascents, descend on Harkins Ridge and ascend on Whittemore Gulch. You can also hike 5.6 miles on out-and-back North Ridge Trail. With no connecting trails, the last stretch of North Ridge can be pretty lonely. It's also quite a climb (about 1000 feet) back up to the trailhead from the turn around point at the end of the trail. The featured hike I describe on thisPhoto of Whittemore Gulch Trail page is somewhat of a compromise. It traverses the pretty forested and chaparral slopes of the preserve, allows you to take in the stunning views south, west, and north, but turns back before the last stretch of North Ridge Trail. It's a nice hike to take for a picnic on a sunny day.
Begin at the north trailhead and start downhill on the North Ridge Trail. A cluster of big leaf maples shed their pretty leaves in autumn a few feet down the wide multi-use trail. Just past them, the trail splits at a signed junction. Bear right on the hiking-only path. The trail squeezes past tall Douglas firs. Ferns flourish in the damp woods, and look for large clumps of mushrooms in autumn and winter. Switchbacks keep the descent easy. You may see pink-flowering currant, thimbleberry, huckleberry, honeysuckle, madrone, and tanoak. ThroughPhoto of view to North Ridge Trail some breaks in the trees, on a clear day the view stretches north all the way to Mount Tamalpais. At about 0.5 mile, the hiking-only path ends at a signed junction with North Ridge Trail. Turn right onto North Ridge Trail.
The wide trail, open to equestrians and cyclists as well as hikers, keeps a fairly level course as it meanders under huge old Douglas firs and tanoaks. Just before the next junction, there's a grassy spot off the trail to the left that makes a fine rest or picnic area. A few steps more and you reach a signed junction at about 1 mile. While North Ridge Trail continues to the right, Whittemore Gulch Trail is an easier grade. Stay to the left on Whittemore Gulch Trail (seasonally closed to all but hikers in the rainy months).
Soon the trail begins to leave the woods. Whittemore Gulch Trail switchbacks gently downhill through monkeyflower, coyote brush, and coffeeberry, ducks under a few last Douglas firs, and emerges into chaparral. In December on this trail I saw a Photo of North Ridge Trailfew forget-me-nots in bloom, way before anything else in the bay area was even thinking of spring. The shrubby plants of the chaparral community (ceanothus, blue witch nightshade, coyote brush, California coffeeberry, and monkeyflower) permit long views west and south. You may be able to pick out Harkins Ridge Trail to the south, and North Ridge Trail to the west. Look north for glimpses of Montara Mountain. The grassy knoll visible downhill to the right off the flat stretch of North Ridge Trail is the picnic area and turnaround point of this hike. Whittemore Gulch Trail winds downhill at an easy grade. At about 1.6 miles, you reach a signed junction. Turn right to take the short connector path to North Ridge Trail.
After just a few steps, the path ends at a signed junction with North Ridge Trail. Turn left. The wide multi-use trail descends through chaparral. Look for a grassy knoll off the trail to the right. This is a great picnic or rest area, and the turn around point for the hike. It's a quiet spot with tremendous views to the ocean. You can extend your walk on the North Ridge Trail, but as you walk a bit further you'll notice that just past the grassy spot, the trail dips and then climbs somewhat steeply. When you're ready, retrace your steps back to the trailhead.
More details
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Hike Dates
Past hikes
Jan 20th, 2008        

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