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.
4 of us did this hike in one day starting from Highway 9/35 at about 6am and were at waddell beach by 6pm. Strenuous.. yes but loved every single moment of it. Highly recommended! We are not serious hikers or anything like that... just wanted to challenge ourselves. If you are thinking of doing it in 1 day, I'd say its possible. It does require some planning i.e., the day before we drove to Waddell Beach and parked one car there (can't depend on Uber/Lyft to come there) and came all the way back to Saratoga to start our hike early in morning next day. Check the iPhone/health app image (badge of honor :))
I did this with a friend about a week ago we started at 8am and got to waddle beach at 5pm to catch a nice sunset. It was a hard joke but worth doing it once. We started near tin can ranch road on highway 9 and took a short cut on the equestrian trail in stead of taking skyline to the sea to see berry falls but it met up with skyline to the sea near the end and everything was fine. We had to take the short cut in order to make it to the beach in time but the short cut is beautiful as well. Hiking the whole thing in one day is definitely a one time thing for me but it is a beautiful hike.
Big Basin via Waddell Beach is always a good time. Went out today after the rain and the creek was full and flowing fast. Everything is lush and green...GORGEOUS! Make sure you bring layers during winter and watch out for newts crossing the path.
Awesome hike. With stops to take pictures and soak in the amazing views we hiked the whole trail in under 2 hours easily. There are many different types of trees with beautiful hues in the bark and moss as you go up and down the trail. Lots of cool rocks that truly make it a "big kid" playground, and there's even a waterfall with a nice lookout point. The waterfall wasn't flowing with much gusto, but it had water which is nice to see these days in California. There are some rocks that you have to walk over on the trail, but there are helpful hand holds and some rails to get you along the trail.