Gone Bananas!

Hike a loop through Purisima Creek Redwoods Open Space Preserve

It’s banana slug season in the Bay Area, and one of the best places to see these mighty mollusks is on this 4.7-mile loop through Purisima Creek Redwoods Open Space Preserve.

Hike north on the Grabtown Gulch Trail and bask in the beauty of redwood trees and lush ferns. After heavy rains, beautiful red, yellow, and violet mushrooms begin to emerge from the redwood needles along the forest floor.

After 0.4 mile, turn left onto Borden Hatch Mill Trail and descend deep into the forest. Mind your step! The trail can be covered in bright yellow California banana slugs—the second largest slug species in the world, with the distinction of being one of the slowest animals on the planet.

At the intersection with Purisima Creek Trail, turn right and follow the creek for 0.2 mile before another right onto Grabtown Gulch Trail. This steep uphill section is broken up by redwood trees hollowed out by wildfires, and redwood “fairy rings,” formed when a redwood dies surrounded by its offspring. It’s mesmerizing scenery.

Continue past Borden Hatch Mill Trail and retrace the route back to the trailhead.

Purisima Creek Redwoods Preserve is open a half hour before sunrise to a half hour after sunset. Grabtown Gulch Trailhead. No dogs.

Story and photos by Heather Werner, @heath.er.wer.ner

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