Bicycle Camping (Bikepacking) Half Moon Bay via Kings Mountain Road & Purisima Creek

Park Entrance

Park Entrance

I finally found some time in the family calendar for an overnight trip. Off to Henry Coe http://coepark.net/pineridgeassociation/ we go…or maybe not! The forecast was 95F degrees in Morgan Hill, which would mean over 100F up on the sunny ridges that Coe is known for. My second bikepacking trip into Henry Coe was not meant to be (the first one here: https://alpharoaming.com/2013/10/05/bikepacking-henry-coe-state-park-day-1/ )

It’s fortunate that living in Silicon Valley I can usually escape the heat by heading to the coast. A bit of research commenced and I found that many State Parks have “Hike and Bike” campsites, including Half Moon Bay! Half Moon Bay is a reasonable bike ride from home…at least on a 17 pound road bike (https://alpharoaming.com/2014/09/14/half-moon-bay/)

These “Hike and Bike” sites are a shared group site that require NO RESERVATIONS! This is a huge bonus, given that the prime campgrounds are all booked months in advance in the summer. I gave a quick call over to the park to be sure my understanding was correct…oops! I explained that I planned an overnight from Silicon Valley and was strongly discouraged. “It is for people cycling the coast”. Hmm…OK…how about if I rub some dirt on my body and say that I’m coming from San Diego? I would think that anybody with panniers and camping gear should be welcomed (or at least not be subject to questioning or doubt). There is no firm policy on the State Parks website http://www.parks.ca.gov/?page_id=26837)

Sooo…I went over to the MTBR.com forums and asked the question. I received a handful of constructive replies, indicating the “wrong person” answered the phone. I decided to go for it. If anybody gave me a hard time, I’d be polite and insistent, and sneak back in after dark, as well as blog about it afterwards. It worked out GREAT!

Pack up the gear and off we go! (Rear panniers, plus a tent and sleeping bag bungeed to the top). The big knobby 2.25 inch tires are meant for hill climbing in Henry Coe, not for touring…

Panniers, plus tent and sleeping bag

Panniers, plus tent and sleeping bag

A little zig-zagging around Silicon Valley, past Stanford, and up Kings Mountain Road from Woodside, CA. It was a nasty 94F degrees in the sun, and my loaded bike was around 55 pounds.

Leaving Woodside...

Leaving Woodside…

The reward started here, at the top of the climb at Skyline Boulevard:

Kings

Kings “Mountian” Road at Skyline

Then a short bit to the right on Skyline Boulevard to the top of the Purisima Creek Trail:

(Note: I have seen Puris(s)ima spelled both with a single “s” and a double “s”. The Midpeninsula Open Space folks use a single, while most other uses seem to be a double “s”)

Skyline Blvd at Kings Mountain Road

Skyline Blvd at Kings Mountain Road

My research indicated, from old USPS Topo maps, that the Puris(s)ima Creek Trail used to be a road so I expected a reasonable grade and no technical sections. (Purisima Creek Redwoods Open Space Preserve http://www.openspace.org/preserves/purisima-creek-redwoods and the map http://www.openspace.org/sites/default/files/pr_purisima.pdf )

Purisima Creek Trail

Purisima Creek Trail

Ahhh…cool redwood goodness, with a burbling creek next to the trail on the lower portions.

Lower parts of Purisima Creek Trail

Lower parts of Purisima Creek Trail

4 miles of downhill dirt, until I reached the pavement. From there it was another few miles coasting down to the coast. The fog bank became visible as I descended:

Descending down to the coastal fog

Descending down to the coastal fog

…and then cycling a few miles on the wide shoulder of Highway 1. (Higgins Canyon Road could be used to avoid Highway 1, but it’s a few miles longer and about 300 feet of additional climbing.)

North on (wide-shouldered) Highway 1 for a bit

North on (wide-shouldered) Highway 1 for a bit

I arrived! I cycled up to the entrance station and a cheerful State Parks employee saw my loaded rig said “Hike and Bike Site? Seven dollars!” and in I went.

The Hike/Bike Group Camp

The Hike/Bike Group Camp

The site is quite large, and located just over a dune from the beach and close to restrooms and a shower (bring quarters!). Convenient, large, and only a few neighbors. The 4 tents were all about 30 feet apart from each other, with additional space to spread out away from the trees and 2 picnic tables. There were 2 solo cyclists, and a pair of young ladies. I talked to both of the guys. They were both from San Francisco, with one just finishing a 3 week trip, and another who just came for one night.

The view, 100 feet from my tent!

The view, 100 feet from my tent!

One of the best things about this campground is it’s proximity to the quaint town of Half Moon Bay. I carried just a few snacks with me as I later went to town for a BURGER and BEER!

29 cent gasoline(!) at a restored building, now housing a gift shop of some sort

29 cent gasoline(!) at a restored building, now housing a gift shop of some sort

I returned just before dark, and went to sleep fairly soon after. The crashing surf took a bit of getting used to, as did sleeping on the ground without a pad.

Lights reflecting on the fog/low clouds

Lights to the north reflecting on the fog/low clouds

The next morning, I headed back the same way I came. Where Purisima Creek Road meets Highway 1, there used to be the town of Purisima. All that remains a cemetery hidden back in the trees. (The town: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Purissima,_California The cemetery: http://smcgs.blogspot.com/2012/09/purissima.html I have been to the cemetery. If you’re not afraid of walls of poison oak and want to look for it, drop me a note for details, or look here if you’re a “Premium member” Geocacher: http://www.geocaching.com/geocache/GC2NFWE_goodnight-mooney

Starting back up, near Highway 1 at the

Starting back up, near Highway 1 at the “lost” town of Purisima

A stationary well. Oil, I think(?) There was limited exploration and production during the last century in this area.

Oil well? I know there is a small amount around here.

Oil well? I know there is a small amount around here.

That’s it! Great trip. About 35-40 miles and 3000 vertical feet from the geographical center of Silicon Valley. I intend to explore some of the other State Park’s Hike and Bike campsites, including Big Basin Redwoods and New Brighton Beach.

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About AlphaRoaming

Random outdoor roaming: hiking, cycling, camping, backpacking & plotting more of the above Grew up on the edges of the Adirondack mountains of New York, just a bit west of Vermont. Now living in Silicon Valley and venturing out when and where I can!
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6 Responses to Bicycle Camping (Bikepacking) Half Moon Bay via Kings Mountain Road & Purisima Creek

  1. Pingback: Cyclelicious » San Jose Bike Train tomorrow, and a roundup

  2. Bassocantor says:

    I thought your pictures and story were really outstanding. I am the geocacher who recently visited the Purissima Cemetery, but couldn’t find the cache. I didn’t expect it to get archived! I think it needs a new cache, don’t you?

  3. Pingback: San Jose Bike Practice tomorrow, and a roundup | Posts

  4. Mark Drury says:

    Great post and photos — thanks for sharing! As it happens, I’m planning a bike overnight to Butano State Park from my home in Menlo Park, riding over Old La Honda Road going and returning via Alpine Road or Tunitas Creek Road (I’ve ridden both and both are very nice). Had hoped to do this in September or October but family obligations intervened. Will post a note here with a link to a trip report once I do this trip. Regards,

    Mark D.

    • AlphaRoaming says:

      Thanks for the comment! Old La Honda and Tunitas Creek are my favorite road routes to/from the coast. Did you know there’s a legal fire road from upper China Grade Road to eastern Butano?

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