By ,
Former Director of Marketing

Purisima Creek Old-Growth Hike

Distance: 6.0 miles

Elevation change: 1,800 ft

Difficulty: Moderate

Hiking time: 3-4 hours

Season: This hike is accessible and enjoyable all year.

Getting there: This hike starts at the Grabtown Gulch Trailhead. From Highway 35, follow Tunitas Creek Road west for 1.3 miles.

Parking: Along Tunitas Creek Road — View map

The views of the Pacific Ocean from this trail are simply stunning. This shot was taken at one of my favorite vistas.
The reward at the end of this trail is getting to experience this old-growth redwood tree, one of the biggest in the area.

Hike Description: 

On hot summer days, there is no better escape from the heat than under a redwood canopy, let alone that of an old-growth redwood tree. This 6-mile out and back hike in Purisima Creek Redwoods Open Space Preserve leads right to the base of one.

Along the way to this majestic and very gnarly tree (its deformities are likely why it wasn’t cut down by commercial logging in the early 1900s), there are stunning coastal views and plenty of shade. It also offers some good elevation gain, as it goes up and over Bald Knob, part of a 481-acre parcel that was purchased by POST in 1993 and later transferred to Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District for inclusion in the preserve.

The hike starts at the Grabtown Gulch Trailhead along Tunitas Creek Road, where parking is limited. Proceed down Grabtown Gulch Trail for .3 miles, before turning left onto the Bald Knob Trail. Here you will begin a 1.5-mile uphill section through tanoak, madrone, Douglas fir and redwood.

When you reach Bald Knob the trail comes to a T intersection, stay to the left along the wide and grassy Irish Ridge Trail, named for the Irish family that settled there early in the mid-19th century. Along this trail keep an eye to the West to enjoy sweeping views of the ocean. And, watch out for banana slugs – last time I was out there I must have seen hundreds!

After hiking along for a mile on the Irish Ridge Trail, you will reach another intersection: Stay to the right and proceed about 100 feet until you are at the base of one of the more unique and enchanting redwoods I have seen in the area. Once you are done marveling at its grandeur, follow your steps back to the trailhead.

There must have been hundreds of banana slugs out on this hike. This one was particularly interesting to watch as it was eating its lunch.


Since 1985, POST has been working to protect Purisima Creek Redwoods Open Space Preserve, now managed by Midpen. Through seven separate land transactions, this preserve now encompasses 4,711 acres.

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About Post

Peninsula Open Space Trust (POST) protects open space on the Peninsula and in the South Bay for the benefit of all. Since its founding in 1977, POST has been responsible for saving more than 87,000 acres as permanently protected land in San Mateo, Santa Clara and Santa Cruz counties. Learn more

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