Castle Rock Park Hikes

For a Castle Rock State Park brochure, click here.

Castle Rock Loop

Castle Rock
  • Hiker
  • Time 20 to 45 minutes
  • 1.2 miles
  • +/-280 feet
Park at:

Main Parking Lot

Trails:

Castle Rock: 0.98 mi + 210 ft
Saratoga Gap: 0.14 mi + 70 ft

What this Hike Offers:

 

This hike starts and ends in the Main Parking lot.  The Castle Rock trail leads out of the parking lot up through a forest of Douglas Fir, Madrone and Tan Oak.  The trail intersects a service road which leads to the collection rock formations.   These fascinating Vaqueros Sandstone outcrops contain  many caves, pockets, and sculptural shapes called tafone. Castle Rock provides bouldering and roped climbs and the surrounding smaller rocks provide bouldering and are a great playground for children. The trail leads around the right side of Castle Rock and switchbacks down through other rock formations before leveling-off and looping back through mixed forest to the intersection with the Saratoga Gap (east) trail.  This trail ascends about o.2 mi back to the parking lot.

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Waterfall: Castle Rock Loop Addition

Castle Rock Falls
  • Hiker
  • Time Adds 20 to 40 minutes
  • Adds 1.14 miles
  • +250 feet
Trails:

Saratoga Gap 1.14mi +250 ft

What this Hike Offers:

When descending the Castle Rock Trail to the Saratoga Gap Trail, go left 0.6 miles down to the Castle Rock Falls viewing platform (2680 ft.). Go back up the Saratoga Gap Trail 0.7 mi. back to the parking lot.

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Just Castle Rock Falls

Falls Viewing Platform
  • Hiker
  • Time 25 to 50 minutes
  • 1.3 miles roundtrip
  • +320 feet
Park at:

Main Parking Lot

Trails:

Saratoga Gap: 1.3mi +320ft

What this Hike Offers:

Forest of Douglas Fir, Madrone, and Tan Oak, 80 foot Castle Rock Falls, full after a winter rain storm, views of the Falls from viewing platform. Climbers on the rocks on either side of the falls.

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Summit Meadow Loop

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  • Hiker
  • Time 30 to 60 minutes
  • 1.9 miles
  • +150 feet
Park at:

Sempervirens Point or Ho Gate

Trails:

Summit Meadow 1.1 mi +100ft
Skyline to the Sea 0.8mi -100ft

What this Hike Offers:

Vistas of meadow, forest and long and wide views of the San Lorenzo River valley, the Santa Cruz Mountains, and it’s ridges on the edge of the Pacific Ocean, there are picnic tables and a toilet at Sempervirens Point. There is a bench above the Summit Meadow Trail that would be OK for a picnic.

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Short Ridge Loop

Goat Rock
  • Hiker
  • Time 1.4 to 2.2 hours
  • 3.2 miles
  • +730 feet
Park at:

Main Parking Lot

Trails:

Saratoga Gap 1.5mi +40ft
Interconnector 0.16mi +120ft
Ridge 1.0mi +290ft
Saratoga Gap 0.5mi +280ft

What this Hike Offers:

Forest of Douglas Fir, Madrone, and Tan Oak, Black Oak, Chaparral, 80 foot Castle Rock Falls, and Vaqueros Sandstone outcrops with their caves, pockets, and sculptural shapes called tafone. Long views of the San Lorenzo River Valley of the Santa Cruz Mountains, glimpses of the Pacific Ocean, views of Monterey Bay across to Monterey if there’s no fog.

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Castle Rock Loop: Short Ridge Loop Addition

Castle Rock Rock Formations
  • Hiker
  • Time Add 20 to 45 minutes
  • Add 1.1 miles
  • +200 feet
What this Hike Offers:

See the Castle Rock Loop description. Probably best to do this first if you add it. Go left on the Saratoga Gap Trail from the Castle Rock Trail.

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Interpretive Shelter: Short Ridge Loop Addition

Interpretive Shelter Roof Replacement
  • Hiker
  • Time Add 6 to 15 minutes
  • Add 0.4 miles
  • +40 feet
Trails:

Goat Rock 0.2mi +40ft

What this Hike Offers:

The Interpretive Shelter with it’s large park map, and display panels on the park, the rock outcrops, wildlife, and fire, is a place to be out of the sun, rain or snow. There is a picnic table.

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Ridge Loop

My beautiful picture
  • Hiker
  • Time 1.3 to 2.5 hours
  • 5.0 miles
  • +1070 feet
Park at:

Main Parking Lot

Trails:

Saratoga Gap 2.7mi +150 ft
Castle Rock Trail Camp
Ridge 1.8mi +640ft
Saratoga Gap 0.5mi +280ft

What this Hike Offers:

Forest of Douglas Fir, Madrone, and Tan Oak, Black Oak, Chaparral, Knobcone Forest in the trail Camp area, 80 foot Castle Rock Falls, and many Vaqueros Sandstone outcrops, especially Goat Rock, with their caves, pockets, and sculptural shapes called tafone, many long views of the San Lorenzo River Valley of the Santa Cruz Mountains, glimpses of the Pacific Ocean and views of Monterey Bay across to Monterey if there’s no fog, particularly at the Goat Rock Overlook.

Detailed Description from Bay Area Hikers.

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Skyline, Loghry, Saratoga Gap Loop

Loghry Woods Trail Bridge
  • Hiker
  • Time 1.5 to 3 hours
  • 6.1 miles
  • +750 feet
Park at:

Main Parking Lot

Trails:

Link 0.1mi 0ft
Skyline 1.5mi +110ft
Loghry Woods 1.8mi -380ft
Service Rd 0.1mi - 20ft
Castle Rock Trail Camp: open all year, first come basis
Saratoga Gap 2.6mi +630ft

What this Hike Offers:

Forest of Douglas Fir, Madrone, and Tan Oak, Chaparral, Knobcone Pine in the trail Camp area, 80 foot Castle Rock Falls, many Vaqueros Sandstone outcrops, many long views of the San Lorenzo River Valley and Santa Cruz Mountains, glimpses of the Pacific Ocean, and views of Monterey Bay across to Monterey if there’s no fog. Castle Rock Trail Camp has picnic tables, pit toilets, water, and a rain shelter.

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Skyline, Saratoga Gap Loop

Twin Bridges Area Saratoga Gap
  • Hiker
  • Time 2.2 to 4.4 hours
  • 8.9 miles
  • +1260 feet
Park at:

Main Parking Lot

Trails:

Link 0.1mi 0ft
Skyline 3.1mi +350ft
Saratoga Gap 3.1mi +280ft
Castle Rock Trail Camp: open all year, first come basis
Saratoga Gap 2.6mi +630ft

What this Hike Offers:

Forest of Douglas Fir, Madrone, and Tan Oak, as well as an area of interesting rocks and occassional peeks through trees to the Santa Clara Valley. Chaparral and Knobcone Forest in the Castle Rock Trail Camp area. On the east section of the Saratoga Gap Trail, many long views of the San Lorenzo River Valley, Santa Cruz Mountains, glimpses of the Pacific Ocean and views of Monterey Bay across to Monterey if there’s no fog. Many Vaqueros Sandstone outcrops and 80 foot Castle Rock Falls where you might see rock climbers.

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Middle of the Park Loop

ALX0677
  • Hiker
  • Time 2.75 to 5.5 hours
  • 10.9 miles
  • +1670 feet
Park at:

Saratoga Gap or Sempervirens Point

Trails:

Skyline-to-the-Sea 3.3mi, - 720ft
Beekhuis Rd 0.4mi, - 290ft
Saratoga Toll Rd 0.9mi, +200ft
Travertine Springs 2.1mi, +550ft
Saratoga Gap 0.7mi, +280ft
Castle Rock Trail Camp: open all year, first come basis
Service Rd 0.1mi + 20ft
Loghry Woods 1.8mi +380ft
Skyline 1.6mi +240ft

What this Hike Offers:

Forest of Douglas Fir, Madrone, and Tan Oak, especially along the ridge top Skyline Trail. Chaparral and Knobcone Pines in the Trail Camp area. Most of the hike is fairly secluded but you will hear cars on Hwys 9 and 35 in places. In places there are views of the Santa Cruz Mountains.

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Partial Whole Park Loop (sans Redwoods)

For CR SP Hike 9 - 4 Ridge Trail Cliff Lower
  • Hiker
  • Time 3.3 to 6.6 hours
  • 13.1 miles
  • +2020 feet
Park at:

Main Parking Lot

Trails:

Link 0.1mi 0ft
Skyline 3.1mi +350ft
Skyline–to-the-Sea 3.3mi -720ft
Beekhuis Rd 0.4mi -290ft
Saratoga Toll Rd 0.9mi +200ft
Travertine Springs 2.1mi +550ft
Saratoga Gap 0.7mi +280ft
Castle Rock Trail Camp: open all year, first come basis
Saratoga Gap 2.6mi +640ft

What this Hike Offers:

A workout for strong trail runners and hikers, can also be done as a backpack staying at Castle Rock Campground. Forest of Douglas Fir, Madrone, and Tan Oak, along the ridge top Skyline Trail and one area of interesting rocks. Chaparral and Knobcone Forest in the Castle Rock Trail Camp On the east section of the Saratoga Gap Trail You will have many long views of the San Lorenzo River Valley, the Santa Cruz Mountains, glimpses of the Pacific Ocean and views of Monterey Bay across to Monterey if there’s no fog. There are many Vaqueros Sandstone outcrops and 80 foot Castle Rock Falls where you might see rock climbers.

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Upper Skyline-to-the-Sea/Saratoga Toll Road Loop

San Lorenzo River Valley
  • Hiker
  • Time 3.3 hours
  • 7.4
  • +/-1,200 ft
Park at:

Saratoga Gap or Beekhuis pull-out

Trails:

Skyline-to-the-Sea
Beekhuis Road
Saratoga Toll Rd.

What this Hike Offers:

This moderate length loop uses the Beekhuis Road to interconnect the two trails paralleling Highway 9 from the Saratoga Gap.

From the Gap head down the Skyline-to-the-Sea ( SttS)/Toll Road trail 0.4 miles and branch off right on the SttS trail up the bank and  cross Hgway 9 to the Mid-Pen Long Ridge Entrance.  Turn left and head down the SttS passing the Mid-Pen Nutmeg and Red Mountain trails. At 1 mile the trail skirts large parking areas on Hgway 9.  At this point it is possible to leave the SttS and cross Hgway 9 to the Summit Meadows Trail which will intersect the SttS trail in 1.1 miles at Sempervirens Point-adding about 0.3 mi to the to the overall distance.  The SttS trail continues down the right side of Hgway 9 and intersects a paved road leading up to the highway at Sempervirens Point which has lovely views of the San Lorenzo Watershed out to the Monterey Bay.  There is a pit toilet, and picnic benches at the Point.The SttS trail heads down the left side and parallels the  of the highway for 1.5 miles to the Beekhuis Road interconnect.  The trail fist pass through open forest crossing a couple of private roads and then enters a Redwood forest.The Beekhuis Road interconnect heads down through open woodland to the Saratoga Toll Road.  The Toll Rd heads moderately  up through both forest and open hillside environments. Older logging and utility roads intersect the toll Road from both sides.  At about 0.6 miles it cross twin bridges over Tin Can Creek.  At 0.85 miles the Travertine Springs Trail takes off to the east leading to the Saratoga Gap Trail.  Continuing up, there are some relics of cars from misfortune on Hgway 9 and after 3.5 miles leads back to Saratoga Gap.

 

Map


Lower Skyline-to-the-Sea/Saratoga Toll Road Loop

Trail from Waterman Gap - 6.5 mi
  • Hiker
  • Time 3 hrs
  • 7.2
  • +/- 1100
Park at:

Beekhuis Rd Pullout or Watermann Gap

Trails:

Skyline-to-the-Sea
Saratoga Toll Road
Beekhuis Rd.
Skyline-to-the-Sea/Saratoga Toll Rd. Connector

What this Hike Offers:

This moderate 9 mile loop supplements the Upper Skyline-t0-the-Sea (SttS)  Toll Road Loop.  The Connector  Trail at the bottom of the park connects the two trails.

One can park at either the Beekhuis Rd pull out or at the Waterman Gap pull out at the junction of Hwy 9 and the Big Basin Road.  Starting at Beekhuis  one descends about 1200′ to the low point at the end of the Toll Road and the climbs back to start.  Starting at Waterman Gap one descends to the end of the Toll Road (-600′) then ascends the Toll Rd to the Beekhuis Rd crossover and then back down the SttS to Waterman Gap. This loop can also be reversed.

Starting at Waterman Gap one descends s the SttS trail, first on the right side of the Big Basin Road and then on the left side.  The trail goes through a redwood forest – including some old growth trees at the junction of Hwy 9 and Big Basin Road which survived road construction in this area.  At about 0.6 miles further, the SttS -Toll Road Interconnect trail heads downhill to the left.  After a short descent, the trail follows a ridge due east for about 0.5 miles  and then descends across a utility easement into a redwood forest  down to the Hwy 9 crossing at 1.6 miles and another 0.3 miles to the junction with the Saratoga Toll Rd.

The Toll Rd trail follows a paved/gravel track for about 0.5 miles and then turns abruptly right over a footbridge and begins the ascent on a forested trail/road up 2.7 miles to the Beekhuis Rd cross over  The trail passes through variety of  forest zones including some large old growth Tan oaks.

The short (0.4mi) Beekhuis cross over ascend about 300′ to the SttS intersection and the gate at Hwy 9 slightly further on.

The SttS trail descends about 3 miles back to Waterman Gap. The trail passes a number of “landmarks” including the El Camino Hospital Grove of Redwoods at 0.45 miles,  an errant  blue station wagon at ~2 mi.  At 2.5 mils the trail joins the Service Road for 0.2 miles to the Waterman Gap Trail Camp.  Water and a pit toilet  are available at the camp.  The trail continues 0.25 miles to the Waterman Gap parking area across Hwy 9.

 

Map

 


Gap to Gap Loop

SanLorenzoRedwoods
  • Hiker
  • Time 4 to 7.9 hours
  • 16.4 miles
  • +1860 feet
Park at:

Saratoga Gap or Waterman Gap

Trails:

Saratoga Toll Rd 6.8mi -1820ft
SttS to Toll Rd Inter 1.9mi + 500ft
Skyline-to-the-Sea 0.9mi + 40ft
Waterman Gap Trail Camp: open 4/1 – 10/31, reservations required
Skyline-to-the-Sea 6.8mi +1320ft

What this Hike Offers:

A workout for strong trail runners and hikers, can also be done as a backpack staying at Waterman Gap Trail Camp. Forest of Douglas Fir, Madrone, Tan Oak, and Redwood forest In the lower park.Trails are mostly wooded but there are areas with views of the Santa Cruz mountains.

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Whole Park Loop

My beautiful picture
  • Hiker
  • Time 5.4 to 10.8 hours
  • 21.6 miles
  • +2970 feet
Park at:

Main Parking Lot, Saratoga Gap, Waterman Gap

Trails:

Link 0.1mi 0ft
Skyline 3.1mi + 350ft
Skyline–to-the-Sea 6.2mi + 50ft
Waterman Gap Trail Camp: open 4/1 – 10/31, reservations
Skyline-to-the-Sea 0.9mi + 40ft
SttS to Toll Rd Inter 1.9mi + 50ft
Saratoga Toll Rd 4.0mi +1020ft
Travertine Springs 2.1mi + 550ft
Saratoga Gap 0.7mi + 280ft
Castle Rock Trail Camp: open all year, first come
Saratoga Gap 2.6mi + 630ft

What this Hike Offers:

A workout for trail runners or very strong hikers, can also be done as a backpack staying at either or both the Waterman Gap Trail Camp (Open April1-Oct 31, reservations) or Castle Rock Trail Camp, (open year round, first come) depending on parking location. Forest of Douglas Fir, Madrone, and Tan Oak, especially along the ridge top Skyline Trail as well as one area of interesting rocks. Chaparral and Knobcone Pine in the Castle Rock Trail Camp area and Redwood forest In the lower park. On the east section of the Saratoga Gap Trail many long views of the San Lorenzo River Valley, the Santa Cruz Mountains, glimpses of the Pacific Ocean and views of Monterey Bay across to Monterey if there’s no fog. There are many Vaqueros Sandstone outcrops and 80 foot Castle Rock Falls where you might see rock climbers.

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