Along the crest of the Santa Cruz Mountains, Castle Rock State Park embraces coast redwood, Douglas-fir, and madrone forest, most of which has been left in its wild, natural state. Steep canyons are sprinkled with unusual rock formations that are popular with rock climbers. The forest here is lush and mossy, crisscrossed by 32 miles of hiking and horseback riding trails. These trails are part of an even more extensive trail system that links the Santa Clara and San Lorenzo valleys with Castle Rock State Park, Big Basin Redwoods State Park, and the Pacific Coast. Primitive campsites for backpackers are the only overnight facilities. Equestrians are urged to call ahead for current trail information, and smokers are advised that, due to high fire hazard, smoking is prohibited on the trails within Castle Rock State Park. Dogs are not allowed on the trails or in the campground. The park is located on Highway 35, just 2 1/2 miles southeast of the junction with Highway 9.
We took the Ridge Loop to the Saratoga Gap Loop for a beautiful 5.2 mile hike. Stunning views and a moderate hike with some hills and a small amount of rock climbing. Many shady areas to cool down and enjoy the surroundings, even on a hot day. Halfway through the hike you can go to the campground for bathrooms and to fill your water bottle, if you need. Busy on the weekend, but did not detract from the hike.
Great trail for a casual hike! Aside from climbing through some rocky areas this trail is very easy. It has some pretty great views, just make sure to get there early (8am)! When we got there at 8 there were only a few cars parked and we only saw about 10 people, but on our way out it was a constant stream of people trying to hike...and the parking lot was a nightmare, you won't find parking!