Although this very popular park is just across the highway from the many preserves outside Woodside and Palo Alto, Purisima Creek looks completely different— the woods are brighter and much more attractive, the open hilltops have amazing views of the bald coastal hills and redwood-filled canyons below, and the park looks wilder and more expansive. In the summer, the park's redwood canyons are refreshingly cool, being near to the shoreline, making a great getaway from the Bay Area heat. However, it can start to get hot as you climb the ridge.
Despite its name, Purisima Creek Redwoods has no old-growth redwood groves; instead, its two canyons are filled with dense, small to medium-sized redwoods. However, the redwoods have recovered well, particularly on the Craig Britton Trail, providing some incredibly lovely landscapes.
The park has an extensive system of well-maintained routes and fire roads. Mountain biking and riding horseback are allowed on most routes. Poison oak is found throughout the park and is particularly common along the sunny coastal scrub along the upper Whittemore Gulch Trail. The Purisima Creek Trail starts as a flat and easy stroll through a cool, shady second-growth redwood forest. At the very beginning of the route, the forest is particularly lush, with some good-sized redwoods growing among redwood beds. As the route gradually becomes steeper, however, the forest quickly becomes less attractive, passing through strongly lodged forests. This is the less scenic part of the hike.
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