Burleigh H. Murray Ranch State Park: Exploring the Historic Mill Barn
Burleigh H. Murray Ranch State Park is a small park on the east side of Half Moon Bay. The park protects a barn from the mid-1800s, built as an English-style bank barn, and is the only barn like it in California. The historic barn is maintained in the form of arrested decay as it is kept from crumbling in on itself but not restored. The barn can be accessed via a 2-mile round trip trail, and it is the only real point of interest in the park. Here is all the information.
- Sunrise to sunset
- 2 miles round trip
- Less than 100 feet of elevation
- Location: 305 Higgins Canyon Rd, Half Moon Bay, CA 94019
The park is accessed via Murray Ranch Access Road, which you will turn on to from Highway 1. As you drive back, the road becomes more narrow and passes a few homes before you arrive at the small parking lot on the left. There is room for about a dozen cars, but it is not a very popular park, so it doesn’t usually fill up.
The Trail to Burleigh H. Murray Ranch Barn
From the parking area, the trail leaves on a wide dirt road.
You will be walking this road for the entire time in the park. There was some traffic on the road from law enforcement training when I was there.
The trail is easy to follow, and there is a bathroom about a tenth of a mile from the trailhead.
The road heads in and out of shaded areas with large trees that grow up along the path; it is a nice walk.
You will cross over the small creek you are following on two short bridges at the halfway point.
The path continues to head back as it goes further into the canyon. I only saw one other person the entire time I was back here.
Eventually, the trail arrives at a forested area and has another bathroom and a few picnic benches to sit at.
You are basically at the barn now, as you just have to walk past the private residence and across another short bridge.
The Mills Barn
As you cross the creek, you will get your first view of the barn. The barn was built in 1857, and it is a unique historic structure to see.
The barn was built by Burleigh Murray’s father, who came to California during the gold rush but worked as a farmer. He built the ranch here in 1857, and it is the only English-style bank barn in California.
An English Style bank barn is a barn that is built into the hillside and where both levels walk out directly onto the ground.
At one point, the barn could have held up to 100 cows, and you can still walk fully around it to see it from every angle.
The barn is being preserved but not restored, so when you peek inside, you can see it is held together by wires.
It is pretty cool to see, but you can’t go into it, and there is not much to do after seeing the barn.
I took my time here and then eventually started walking back to the car.
I love seeing all of California’s state parks, so I was glad to be able to visit this one. That being said, it is not that exciting of a park if you are not interested in history. Check it out, and let me know what you think in the comments.