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Purisima Creek Grand Loop

 4.2 (22)
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19.1 Miles 30.7 Kilometers



4,273' 1,303 m


-4,279' -1,304 m



Avg Grade (5°)


Max Grade (14°)

2,082' 635 m


441' 135 m


Shared By Mikael Palner


Bad / Closed 50 days ago
12/2/18 Website says only Whitmore is closed but signs at trailhead say all Purisima is closed to bikes. History

Getting forecast...

Mostly doubletrack and fire roads. Wow views, big trees, and tough climbing. Not technical.

Mikael Palner

Dogs No Dogs

Features -none-

Seasonal closures, check the Open Space website before going.


This is a close competitor for the doubletrack with the best scenery in the bay area. This trail has it all, ocean views, close contact with huge redwoods, fern canyons and creeks.

You'll feel like a Jedi flying between the redwoods on one of the descents. It's not very technical, with climbs mainly in the shade and on fire road, but it is the % incline on the climbs that makes this intermediate.

Need to Know

Also popular with hikers and equestrians, so watch the speed going downhill. To connect with El Corte de Madera, head right (southeast) from Borden Hatch Mill Trail onto Grabtown Gulch Trail and Tunitas Creek Rd to Swett Rd and then Skyline Blvd (Hwy 35).


Best to park at the smaller parking lot at the end of Purisima Creek Trail, then start with a 2+-mile road to the North Ridge trailhead. You can also park here, but I feel that starting with the road ride is a good warm-up, rather than ending with a road ride.

From the North Ridge trailhead, rush down a wide descent for around 0.8 miles, this is a steep wide fireroad and hikers and equestrians are common so watch the speed.

Whittemore Gulch Trail is what makes this location special. It's a 2.2-mile stretch of superbly flowing singletrack, with switchbacks, starting quite exposed to wind and sun, but never scary and ending in lush forest, fern canyons and with huge redwoods.

From here you have THREE options, none are easy:
1) Climb back up Harkins Ridge Trail, which is a grueling 1500 feet climb in 3.2 miles, average incline of 10% with one section of technical roots. It is EVIL. Probably the hardest climb around, with a few hike-a-bike (15-20%) stretches and sun exposure. But it is worth it and will soon be forgotten because you get to do Whittemore Gulch Trail a second time. This is the best option for a 2hr ride.

2) Take Purisima Creek Trail out to the parking lot, it is a steady climb on fire road and in the shade with around 1200 feet in 2.8 miles, the average incline of 8.8%. It is a fire road and it boring riding but gorgeous views, nature, and trees..

3) After Whitemore Gulch Trail ride up Purisima Creek Trail until a right turn to Borden Hatch Mill Trail, which is a fire road / doubletrack, of 1000 feet in 2.6 miles there are stretches of serious incline but it is much more doable than Harkins Ridge due to the shade and resulting better grip. After Borden Hatch Mill Trail, which you take Grabtown Gulch Trail, a short doubletrack descent, back to Purisima Creek Trail, a second stretch of singletrack, a little more technical than Whittemore Gulch Trail, very pretty creek crossings and redwood tree dodging. Finish by going right at Purisima Creek Trail and climbing your way back out the small parking lot.

This is in all a great ride, Whittemore Gulch is special for its flow and scenery and if you like climbing you'll GET what you came for.

History & Background

The preserve was established with a gift of $2 million from the Save-the-Redwoods League.


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Your Check-Ins


Oct 9, 2018
Christoph Dressel
Sep 24, 2018
Christoph Dressel
Aug 8, 2018
Ronin Rona
Jul 28, 2018
Daniel Eldridge
Jul 23, 2018
Zachary Grimm
Jul 4, 2018
Jeongkeun Lee
Jun 9, 2018
Phani Pavuluri
Apr 29, 2018
Dimitri Pecoski
First ride since accident. Really nice views. Saw the ocean, a creek, lot of redwoods. Very steep inclines. 12.9mi

Trail Ratings

  4.2 from 22 votes


  4.2 from 22 votes
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18,310 Since Apr 30, 2014
Intermediate Intermediate

Seems fairly non-technical, doable on a road bike? Nov 13, 2016
Mikael Palner
San Francisco, CA
Mikael Palner   San Francisco, CA
Hi David. I dont think a roadbike would be appropriate, but a cyclocros bike could definitely do Harkins Ridge (i dont think i would go downhill on this, it is really steep) and Purisima Creek Trail, and if you have good technical skills also the single track in Wittermore and Grabtown Gulch. Nov 14, 2016
Am very familiar with this trail as a hiker and always wanted to ride it but considered the sustained 8-10 mile climb back up to skyline blvd. a prohibitive challenge. Perhaps starting at the bottom and riding back up is the way to go(?). Btw, I plan to use my Polygon cross-country for this ride. It's light and built for climbing. Oct 25, 2018

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