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Redwood Purisima Open Space – California – 6 miles

A recent business trip took me to Silicone Valley and I was able to get a nice 6-mile evening hike in after work one day.  Just up the winding roads from my hotel was the spine of the Santa Cruz Mountains where numerous open space preserves offer many wonderful trails.

Of all the open space areas in the area I chose the one with the name “redwoods” in it.  Sometimes I miss the big tree country of the Northwest (used to live in Seattle).  So, I was excited about a hike among giants again.

The Bay Area is a land of micro-climates.  If it’s foggy where you are, chances are you can find bright sunshine just a few miles down the road.  This unique climate is a big part of what makes it such a stunningly beautiful area at times.

About that fog, a collegue told me something I didn’t know about the great Redwood Tree.  The flat needles of the Redwood are specifically adapted for foggy environments, soaking up moisture from the fog.  The moisture condenses and then drips down through the canopy eventually to the forest floor for the shallow roots of the Redwood to drink up.  The ingenuity of nature can be surprising.

The Redwood Purisima open space is just over 4,000 acres and covers a chunk of the west slope of the Santa Cruz Mountains.  Through the middle, runs little Purisima Creek and it’s lush rugged little canyon.  Throughout the preserve are those Redwoods–not quite the behemoths, but some are in the range of 5 or 6 feet in diameter.

The lush canyon floor of Purisima Creek

My hike started on the high side and took me on a wide trail down, down and down some more, until I finally reached the creek.  The descent was 1,400 feet which was a bit more than I was figuring.  The trail then followed the creek for another 1.5 miles or so, crossing back and forth.  The environment was lush and cool, whith the Redwoods standing over a forest floor of ferns and wildflowers.

I turned around about 3 miles in and my workout began as I climbed back up that 1,400 feet back to the trailhead.  I stopped frequently to look up to the high branches of those redwoods standing over me.  Reaching the trailhead I felt invigorated by my nature reboot.

Below are some pictures of the unique wildlife I encountered here.

A friendly salamander let me take its picture

The infamous banana slug–one of many encountered on the trail. Watch your step!

A wierd two-inch long millipede thing

An elegant solitary blue flower

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