Castle Rock State Park

Christie Turnbow
On 3 min read

Castle Rock is located at the intersection of Highway 9 in Northern California and Highway 35. It is situated at the Santa Cruz Mountains’ crest. The trail covers approximately 35 miles and is covered with redwoods, Douglas-fir, as well as interesting rocks. Castle Rock’s accessibility, ease of climbing, and accessibility are what make it so special. You can find the main park entrance right off of 35. It is impossible to miss on weekends because of the long line of cars that will be parked along the road. If you are looking for a spot in a parking space, try to arrive before 10 AM.

Distance to the destination: 3 miTerrain rating: Very easy
Hike in: 9 AM
Hike out at 11AM

We began at Castle Rock’s parking lot and followed the trailhead that pointed to Castle Rock. This small loop of 0.8 miles takes you to Castle Rock, a popular climbing spot for yuppies who are interested in the next urban sport craze. We met 6 young people in their 20s who were wearing very fashionable climbing gear. The group disapproved of my Nike running shoes as I attempted to climb the rock (1 to 2 moves, which is a fairly easy climb). We decided to end the loop after watching others climb. You can return to the Saratoga Gap Trail by following the loop. It’s difficult to lose track of any of the trails, as they are all clearly marked.

The Saratoga Gap Trail is lined with a refrigerator tree

This is Castle Rock’s most famous trail. This trail takes you past Castle Rock Falls which was unfortunately dry due to the drought and through beautiful viewpoints. I remember sitting on the rocks as a child and seeing lots of wildlife, such as snakes, golden-eagles, falcons, and California news. Twenty years later, we only heard a handful of chirping birds. Castle Rock’s abundance of refrigerator trees is something I have always loved. Loc Tite thought that I was making fun of them when I pointed them out in Zion National Park’s valley. Because the tree’s exposed bark feels cool, they’re named that. On hot California summer days, I love to touch their barks.

You should go and see the rocks yourself, so I won’t ruin them for you. They are truly amazing and provide a beautiful backdrop to the surrounding area. We decided to head home after we reached the halfway point of the Saratoga Gap Trail. It isn’t a loop trail. We saw several groups, one of which was led by a park ranger. Castle Rock is an excellent choice for anyone who doesn’t want to be too enthusiastic about hiking, but still wants to spend some time outdoors. Even just watching the climbers is fun. It’s not dog-friendly, but it’s extremely safe and female-friendly. There is even a 0.08 mile accessible path that offers woodland views. It was my way to burn off all the mashed potatoes I had at Levi’s Stadium this weekend.

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