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Borden Hatch Mill Trail

Purisima Creek Redwoods Open Space Preserve

June 13th, 2015

11.6 miles
2450 vertical feet
Total Time: 6:18

Starting elevation
2059 feet
Max elevation
2059 feet

Rating: 7/10

Directions: From Interstate 280 in Woodside, take Woodside Road west. Turn right onto Kings Mountain Road and follow the narrow winding road to Skyline Boulevard. Turn right onto Skyline, then shortly left into the small parking area. You may need to park on the side of the road; if so, make sure to park completely off-road and be careful as traffic moves quite fast here.   View Driving Map

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GPX File

We parked at the southern parking lot to the preserve (there's another parking lot at the northern end) on Skyline Boulevard. The small lot was full, and cars were parked by the side of the road on both sides of Skyline. We found a spot not too far from the parking lot. Still, it was a little unnerving getting our stuff ready as cars zipped by at 60 miles per hour.

It was well past noon by the time we headed off on the trail. It shortly reached an intersection near the road, with the Purisima Creek Trail leading down to the left (there's a picnic area straight ahead). There's also a bathroom here, though if the smells outside are any indication, you probably don't want to use it.

We took the Purisima Creek Trail, descending the wide dirt fire road as it passes through the forest. There are occasional unshaded spots, but for the most part it is shaded. The grade varies from moderate to moderately steep. In all, it descends from just over 2000 feet at the top to just over 600 feet at the bottom (and oh yes, remember you have to climb back up on the way back).

The trail is quite popular and we passed many groups of hikers large and small in both directions. If you're looking for a bit more peace and quiet, come early or late in the day, or on a weekday. After about 1.8 miles, we reached another trail intersection. To the right is a hiker-only trail, the Craig Britton Trail. We stayed on the Purisima Creek Trail to the left.

After a short steep descent, we came to a nice view of Purisima Creek crossing under the trail. From this point on, the trail closely follows the creek and there are nice views of it along the way, with occasional bridges crossing it. The water was still flowing appreciably now in mid-June, though I'm sure the flow is much more in winter.

First good look at Purisima Creek

Ferns next to Purisima Creek

Purisima Creek Trail

Purisima Creek Trail

Purisima Creek Trail

We stopped near one of the bridges for a late lunch break. Afterwards we returned to the trail. After passing the Grabtown Gulch Trail intersection, we shortly came to the Borden Hatch Mill Trail intersection. We turned left to start a roughly 4 mile loop section that would exit at the Grabtown Gulch intersection we'd just passed.

Purisima Creek near the bridge

Ferns at Purisima Creek

Purisima Creek Trail

The Borden Hatch Mill Trail climbs for about 2.5 miles, up about 1000 feet. For the most part, there are no creeks to see and no views. There are some nice sections of redwood forest. One of the best parts of this trail, however, is that you escape the masses that are on the Purisima Creek Trail. We only saw about 8-10 people (hikers and mountain bikers) on the loop.

Borden Hatch Mill Trail

Borden Hatch Mill Trail

Young trees along the Borden Hatch Mill Trail

After 2.5 miles we reached a trail intersection, took the left fork and climbed briefly for another 0.2 miles before reaching a wide open clearing. Two mountain bikers were just leaving as we arrived. We had a short snack break before descending the Grabtown Gulch Trail. I would say that the Grabtown Gulch Trail is much prettier than the Borden Hatch Mill Trail, especially as it approaches the Purisima Creek Trail. There are lots of ferns and redwoods here.

Looking back down the Borden Hatch Mill Trail

Bridge on the Grabtown Gulch Trail

Grabtown Gulch Trail

Grabtown Gulch Trail

Sun peering down on Grabtown Gulch Trail

Mountain biker passing us on Grabtown Gulch Trail

We teached the bottom of the descent and turned right back onto the Purisima Creek Trail. From there we started the long 1400 foot climb back up to the parking area. Along the way we saw a small rubber boa snake on the trail, a dead rat (yuck!), and a few people strolling down the trail even as it approached 7pm. Back at the parking lot, nearly all the cars were gone from the lot and along Skyline Boulevard.

Bridge on Purisima Creek Trail

Purisima Creek Trail

Small rubber boa on the Purisima Creek Trail

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