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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.

trail running
17 days ago

Can't believe there are people actually complaining about "too many redwoods"- you just don't appreciate redwoods properly. Anyways, only 4 outta 5 cause signs can be awful at points. Started up at Castle Rock and didn't find out about the trail still being closed until I got to Big Basin- thanks for the heads up, guys. I guess the powers that be can write endless tickets should someone stay past sundown, but they can't update the main park sign or post anything to reflect the new distance. Was trying to do this in a day and had to turn back after Berry Creek Falls, was already at 23 miles coming into Big Basin originally due to previous unclear signs and some bad planning on my part. The 4 sided posts with arrows going in vague directions often don't help- just mark the side facing where the hiker will be coming from with "Trail X, take right, trail Y, take left"- I'm confused as to why this isn't the standard. Then I missed Sunset Connector Trail (only sign for it was on the back of the post, so you'd only see it coming from one direction), not sure if that woulda worked as the detour posted at Big Basin HQ was the 12 mile Berry Creek one- ya, just a mess of a hike in terms of clear directions. Anyways, as to why it's still a dope hike- Castle Rock is a beautiful place to start in the morning, loved seeing clouds cover the valley with my ultimate (unreached) destination, the sea, in the distance. The stretch beside the road isn't the best, but there's enough to keep you interested. There are some open sections over some interesting rock formations, plenty of impressive redwoods, and there is some wildlife- lizards, hawks up at Castle Rock if you start later, and I saw a green snake chowing down on a mouse which was insane. Obviously I can't review the whole thing since I had to stop short, but it's a heck of a thru-hike taking you through some nicely varied terrain- and yes, there are lots of Redwoods, still can't believe people manage to make that a negative. Anyways, I'm planning on finishing the last 12+ miles once my feet hate me a bit less, heck of a hike from what I did cover though!