Hike in Castle Rock State Park (Saratoga Gap Trail – Ridge Trail – Saratoga Gap Trail)


Hike Date: October 4, 2015
5.9 miles, 3.5 hours, 2108 feet

Castle Rock State Park

Castle Rock State Park is a place of abundant solitude, wilderness, high cliffs, and sweeping vistas. Unique patterns on weathered sandstone, lush forests, and stream-fed canyons make up the park’s diverse features. – https://www.parks.ca.gov/

There is limited parking inside the gated parking lot. While there was the option to park on the street, we felt more comfortable in waiting for someone to leave to park inside.

Castle Rock State Park Entrance

The trailhead is right next to the parking lot.

Saratoga Gap Trail

Saratoga Gap Trail

Saratoga Gap Trail

Saratoga Gap Trail Near the Castle Rock Falls

Sweeping Views from the Saratoga Gap Trail

Rock Climbers on the Goat Rock

Ridge Trail

 

 

 

No matter the pain and exhaustion, we were happy we had hiked here and resolved to come again better prepared.

Other sites with information about this hike:

noun_64692_ccSome interesting observations from the map about the Timms Creek Trail: it runs parallel to the West Waddell Creek. The West Waddell Creek meets the Kelly Creek around the same point where the Timms Creek Trail joins the Skyline-to-the-Sea Trail.

Quick facts about this state park (source: State Park Brochure):

  • Redwood is California’s state tree.
  • Located in the Santa Cruz county, Big Basin Redwoods is California’s oldest state park. It lead the way to launching the state park movement in California.
  • These coast redwoods are among the tallest and oldest trees on Earth. (“Some measure more than 300 feet tall and 50 feet in circumference. Scientists estimate that these trees may range from 1,000 to 2,500 years old.”)
  • The botanical name of these coastal redwoods is Sequoia sempervirens. Not only are they native to the United States, they grow only along the coast from southern Oregon to Central California.
  • “The 33-mile Skyline-to-the-Sea Trail runs from Castle Rock State Park through Big Basin to Waddell Beach at Rancho del Oso.”
  • The state park offers group camping, trail camping, and horse camping options. One can even sign up for a guided hike.

noun_14438_ccMore to explore here:

  • Castle Rock Trail and Castle Rock
  • Castle Rock Falls
  • Nearby parks and preserves:
    • Sanborn County Park
    • Saratoga Gap Open Space Preserve

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Hike Date: October 4, 2015

Trails Hiked: Saratoga Gap Trail, Ridge Trail
Distance Covered:  5.9 miles (9.5 km)
Time: 3h 20 min
Elevation Gain: 2,108 feet
Max and Min Elevation: 3049 feet/2293 feet

 

Trail Info
Parking Lot: Driving down on Hwy 236 from north to south, the parking lots are to the right and the Park Headquarters is on the left.
Parking Fee: $10
Restrooms: Toilets are available at the trailhead.
Map: You can buy one for $3 at the Park Headquarters.
Exposure to sun: Mostly shaded.
Crowd: Weekends are pretty crowded. There are multiple trail loops to choose from. The crowd could be moderate to heavy depending on the route you pick.

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