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Purisima Creek - Whittmore Gulch

10.5 mile trail near Halfmoon Bay, California
Difficulty: Unknown
Length: 10.5 miles
Duration: Half day

Overview :  Purisima Creek - Whittmore Gulch hike is about 10.5 miles long and located near Half Moon Bay, California. The trail is a moderate... more »

Tips:  Water is a must and some cereal bars are also recommended. Parking is free but try to reach early since the parking lot on this side ... more »

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Points of Interest

1. Trailhead and Parking

The trailhead is on the eastern or the coastal side of the Purisima Redwoods, near the intersection of Purisima Creek Road and Higgins Canyon Road. To get here, take Verde Road which is 5 miles south of Highway 1 & route 92 intersection at Halfmoon Bay. Continue on Purisima Creek road at about 0.5 miles where Verde Rd. goes right (south).... More

2. Purisima Creek Trail begin

Within 100 feet of walking through the gate in the parking lot, you will hit a fork. You will see some noticeboards with a trail map. During my hike, the trail map for hikers box was empty...not surprised in this economy :D ! Continue towards east, which is the Purisima Creek Trail. You will pass the restroom on your right. This is also a... More

3. Redwood welcome

Soon into the trail, you will be welcomed by some gigantic redwood trees. The trail will be following one of the tributaries of Purisima Creek upstream (on your left). You will also see the Harkin's ridge trail on the other side of the creek on your left.

4. Borden Hatch Mill Trail & Grabtown Gulch Trail

1 mile in you will pass the intersection to Borden Hatch Mill Trail to your right going in a South-east direction. Keep going straight (east). Another 0.1 mile and you will pass the Gradbtown Gulch Trail intersection.

5. Switchback

The hike east is done. You would have crossed two wooden bridges by the time you reach this point and done some easy-moderate climbing . The trail switchbacks at this point. There is a small unmarked trail which continues east along the creek. Its a possible resting point in the woods.

6. Craig Britton Trail

After the switch back and a short climb, its time to leave the Purisima Creek Trail which again turns east. You will see the trail head to Craig Britton trail on your left, continue on this towards north-west. NOTE TO BIKERS : Craig-Britton trail is HIKING ONLY, unlike the Purisima Creek trail. Its a narrow single track trail. If I am not... More

7. Banana slug warning!

You will be considered lucky if you see one of these in the Purisima Creek Trail..but you will be considered blind if you don't see a number of these in the Craig-Britton trail. There are many on both sides of the trail...you might see some of them hiking along with you on the trail....at 1/10000 th of your pace.

8. First view of the bay

The trail suddenly bursts into a sunny patch in this area. At this point, where there is a switchback you will get some good views of the bay. Being a sunny patch, you can find more flowers on both sides of the trail. There will be some moderate climbing in this region.

9. Harkin's ridge trail intersection

Ok..decisions to make at this point. You can either start your trip back down by taking a left here, which is the Harkin's ridge trail going South-west. This would be the quicker way back to where you started. I took that route in Aug 2011. If I remember right, its mainly a Fire road and since its a quicker descent the views are less.
If you ... More

10. Stop!

Continue climbing up, enjoying some good views on the left and some beautiful flowers on your right. You can even see the Whittemore Gulch Trail on the slopes at a distance on your left. Continue until you hit a Stop sign !! Oops...you have hit the redwood preserve boundary. Dead End! Just kidding....on your left you can see the signs for the... More

11. North Ridge Trail Junction

After some expansive views of the valley and the bay along the left , you will reach the junction with North ridge trail. Take a left here towards the Whittemore Gulch Trail.

12. Whittemore Gulch Trail

Finally...we are here...the beginning of the end :D! You will see the trailhead of the Whittemore Gulch Trail on your left along a descent on the North Ridge Trail. Its time to start your climb down. During the climb down, obviously, you will enjoy similar views as before but in reverse. Eventhough, its a different route you have to pass along... More

13. Trail to northridge

There is a switchback here and another trail going NW which connects to the North-ridge trail. You have to take the switchback and continue in the Whittemore Gulch trail.

14. Back in vegetation

At around this point you enter the area of taller vegetation and this point onwards the scenic views are obstructed. The descent continues and at some point you can hear the sound of the stream again. This is one of the tributaries (northernmost one) of the Purisima creek. The trail continues downstream.

15. Bridge to where it all began...

The trail joins the Harkin's ridge trail at this point and continues over a bridge to the trail-head where we started.