On a warm summer day, you may be thinking about getting out in nature without too much walking. This might be the answer.
First, check the forecast for Half Moon Bay. The temperature is probably cooler than in our mountains. If it’s foggy or maybe even offering a little drizzle, consider this your opportunity to escape the heat.
Begin your mini-vacation with a drive up the coast along Highway 1. Stop for a coffee in Davenport, soup in Pescadaro, or sandwiches in Half Moon Bay.
A little south of downtown Half Moon Bay, turn on Verde Road away from the coast. Drive along this country road for one-quarter mile, and then continue straight as it becomes Purisima Creek Road. In about 3.7 miles, you’ll see a tiny parking lot. If you can’t find room there, park along the road wherever you don’t see a no-parking sign.
Within a few steps, you are walking in a deep, lush, dark forest. It is a special place. Although the redwoods are second growth, many are old healthy giants more than one hundred years old. They shelter enormous ferns and other huge plants that look primeval. You may see trillium, wood rose, huckleberry, thimbleberry, wild iris, and many other flowering plants.
Some trees are broken from terrible storms. Others are blackened from old fires. And while you feel a sense of quiet, these old giants keep you cool. The thick redwood canopy also provides an even light for photography, especially on foggy days.
I was here with a group from the Campbell photo club (Friday Foto Fanatics). We enjoyed lots of photo opportunities while walking only a few hundred yards in a few hours. We crossed a bridge to Harker’s Ridge Trail, or stayed to the right to follow Purisima Creek Trail. Both trails follow the same rocky creek for less than a mile with mild grades, and then find their own paths up to Skyline.
We wandered along an easy trail to take pictures of reflecting pools, little waterfalls, interesting plants, banana slugs, birds, glistening spider webs, and other gifts of nature. Then we enjoyed a nice lunch in the old-town area of Half Moon Bay.
If you want another short hike in this same preserve, you can take Highway 92 up to Skyline to enter the preserve’s PC03 entrance. The quarter-mile Redwood Trail is an easy walk past several picnic tables.
To extend your walk from the northern entrance, continue a loop to the left via the Purisima Creek Trail. If you turn right on Purisima Creek Trail, you can walk five miles to the Higgins Canyon Road entrance, then loop back via the trails of Harkins Ridge, Bay Area Ridge, and Craig Britton back to the Purisima Creek Trail. Beware. Some of these trails are steep.
If you are looking for a casual walk in nature while keeping cool, especially on a foggy day, drive up to the Half Moon Bay entrance to Purisima Creek Redwoods.
Find out more at www.openspace.org/preserves/purisima-creek-redwoods.