Dating back to the mid-1800s, the Burleigh H. Murray Ranch was donated to the state of California in 1979 and is now preserved as a natural environment and piece of history. It serves as a local timepiece of the past, standing almost the same as it did over a century ago. The California Department of Parks and Recreation still owns the land today, and the historic ranch is open to the public for self-guided touring and exploration.
There is a main house, unique dairy barn, and surrounding outbuildings that make up the Burleigh H. Murray Ranch. The dairy barn definitely stands out, designed by pioneer Robert Mills to look like those of the English Lake Country where he was raised. This “bank barn” is unlike any other in the state of California. It has two stories and is built hillside, so that both floors can be open at ground level. Just across the creek is the farmhouse, which was built in the 1920s as the replacement for a Victorian-style house that burned down.
History of Burleigh H. Murray Ranch
Robert Mills was an Englishman who traveled to California during the famed Gold Rush. He acquired land in the foothills of Half Moon Bay, and there constructed a house, dairy barn, and outbuildings against the hillside. Mills and his descendents leased the land to ranchers for over a century until Mills’ grandson and heir Burleigh H. Murray died in 1978. Murray’s father was a successful dairy farmer on the land, raising sheep and cattle and putting the land and structures to proper use. Named in his honor, the Burleigh H. Murray Ranch was put on the National Register of Historic Places in 1989, 100 years after its construction began.
Burleigh-Murray Ranch Trail
An old ranch road winds its way beside Mills Creek for a mile up to a 1930s bungalow as the premier hiking trail. Access is granted from the ranch entrance off Higgins-Purisma Road, where parking is available. The path traverses through groves of old eucalyptus, red alter, and buckeye trees until reaching the prominent barn and wooden water tank. It then continues through a narrow valley between hills, finally fading away into the dense undergrowth. The trail is a favorite spot for not just outdoor exercise and scenic sightseeing but also for birdwatching. Many unique species are attracted to the creekside habitat, and native plants such as red flowering currant, twinberry, salmonberry, and woodland wildflowers can be observed. Be sure to bring your camera and take some beautiful pictures of the rustic farm and any nature you can spot along the trail.
Ranch to Inn
Located just a 15 minute drive away from Burleigh H. Murray Ranch is Mill Rose Inn. Head from the ranch toward the beach and stay at this beautiful seaside bed and breakfast in Half Moon Bay, which offers amenities such as a flower garden Jacuzzi and gourmet breakfast each morning. For more to do in Half Moon Bay and surrounding areas, download Mill Rose Inn’s free vacation guide!