Explore the most popular nature trips trails in Castle Rock State Park with hand-curated trail maps and driving directions as well as detailed reviews and photos from hikers, campers and nature lovers like you.

Completed the trail in 2 nights & 3 days. 1st day hiking was harder than the other 2 days. Basin was crowded.

Tip: A couple people thought to break in their shoes on this trail = lots of blisters. Also, bring poles if you have bad knees = lots of downhill.

Such a beautiful trail!! I hiked it alone on a moderately busy Sunday afternoon. It was the perfect combination of ease and difficulty for me. Very straightforward to follow along the path, and when you come to a fork in the trail it is marked properly. There are a few decent sized rocks along the way to stop and hang out to take a short break.

backpacking
11 days ago

Started at Castle Rock HQ, ended at Waddell Beach and loved every minute of this hike. Camped at Waterman Gap and then Jay camp and both were in good shape and nice. Thanks to our awesome state park rangers, staff and volunteers! Definitely would do this again.

trail running
12 days ago

Super fun. Ran skyline to sea marathon with Pacific Coast Trail Runs. Very fun event. Highly recommend.

Wonderful hike!
Early October, Sunday morning, got there at around 7:30 and the parking was halfway full. Very windy, lots of shades, waterfalls was only dripping water. Descending first then ascend when going back to the parking.
Paid the fee for $10 (fee is only $8, but didn’t have change, self pay in the envelope)
Definitely come back for camping overnight!

hiking
13 days ago

Some of the trail is a fire road, it’s when you get into about 3 miles in that you have to take off of the fire road and venture into the woods. I did get lost a couple of times because the trail is covered with leaves fallen tees and not really noticeable in some parts. You should see a few redwood groves marked with signs along the trail I suggest having the map downloaded or having a fully charged phone so you don’t get lost. Also there is no cellphone service for most of the way so you will only be able to use gps most of the way. There was no real “peak” which was disappointing but it was a nice isolated trail. I did see a mountain lion about 1.6 miles in so make sure to bring your bear spray! I would definitely do it again.

Beautiful trail. View of the Santa Cruz mountains and it’s a loop too back to the parking lot. Not too much elevation change. Make it by 9am to have a good shot at parking.

Great trail. It's well maintained, has some beautiful views, and (early in the morning) wasn't too crowded. The parking lot at the trailhead is pretty limited, but there's some extra along the road.

Awesome hike with beautiful views! Definitely go in the morning to avoid getting hit too much with the sun.

One of the absolutely most beautiful views I've gotten in the Bay Area. Going around 7-10 am you get to see a snake of fog slithering through the valley

Met a rattle snake that makes this trial special

We (my wife, 30, and me, 38) did this trail yesterday, 8th September, but went a little further to the east to not have to hike through the community.

It took us nearly 4 hours with a short break to do the 9.6 miles loop, which was downhill for about 5.5 and uphill from there on. Going through forest and some open places, where we got quite some sun yesterday. Temperature got really high then, reaching nearly 100°.

There were nearly any other people during the hike so it was quite relaxed. And there are quite some nice views. But that is it for the positive side.

Things we did not like:
- trail is difficult to follow (thank you stranger for putting up your orange hints)
- bugs and mosquitoes all the time (take repellent with you during this time of year)
- gun fire can be heard all the time

PS: quite often you will have no network coverage, so downloading the track beforehand is a good idea.

Did 11 miles out and back since I couldn’t get a ride home from the beach. Downhill helps but there are some climbs for sure. Take plenty of water.

Fun hike, good mix of sunny spots/shaded spots, great views along the way. Lots of different spots to take breaks and do additional exploring. The rock scrambles were fun, and if you like climbing, there’s also some opportunities to do so along the way.

Hubby and I went this morning!! Much more difficult than I expected, almost threw in the towel, but my competitiveness kept me going. The trail needs to be marked better the higher you go...had a blast, but should have taken my hiking boots..tennis shoes dont work!

Beautiful trail, nightmare parking. Get there early!

Had an awesome time on this hike, great lookouts, huge rocks and a waterfall(might be more water in the early months of the year). We took the short cut about 2 miles in to head on back which made the hike 3.5 miles and it took us about 2 hours just relaxing and exploring. Highly recommend!

Fun trail. Didn’t have my hiking boots, so bouldering was difficult. Areas of the trail require you to climb over rocks so be prepared.

Also parking in the parking lot is $8 cash. You can park on the side of the road but be warned that there is a ditch and I saw a car get stuck. Not hard to park, just be safe!

backpacking
2 months ago

Perfect Beginner Backpacker 3-Day Trip.

Don’t camp in your car the night before hitting the trail. Ranger Rick didn’t like that at all. Otherwise the trail follows a highway for the first two days. The second day you stop by Big Basin HQ where you can reload on any food or gear you may need. Even have showers. Third day you leave the highway sounds and follow a creek that leads to the ocean. This is the most rewarding and beautiful day. (Camped at Waterman Gap and Jay Camp)

Apparently the shuttle no longer exists. We hitchhiked to downtown Santa Cruz and then 50$ Uber’d to our car at Castle Rock State Park.

Weather was never permitting long sleeves, even at night. The shade under the tree groves was perfect, no chance of getting sunburned. Mosquitoes were heavy though and had to remain in our tents any time we weren’t moving.

Started near Summit Rock and hiked into Castle Rock along ridge trail. The scrambling within Castle Rock State Park is pretty fun, but the trails back out through the Loughry Trail, though nice and shaded, gets a bit boring. You get the added benefit of hearing gunfire as you hike past the Los Altos Gun Club. There's quite a bit of poison oak along the trail, so don't fall over and roll around.

hiking
2 months ago

Great workout, good steady climb, with the majority of the hike thankfully in the shade. Went on a hot day so the sun was brutal in the exposed sections. We took the Loghry Woods trail instead of the service road and it was shaded and scenic. Took about 3-3.5 hours with a few breaks.

nature trips
3 months ago

State Park Docents are often present on Weekends.
Pictures show some key points. Fire ant hill, woodpecker tree, castle rock with its tafoni, giant Douglas Fir trees, and oak forest.

This is definitely a difficult loop. I would not recommend it to people who cannot handle slopes or the heat. The path is also not paved, and may require some climbing over large rocks and boulders. I finished it in close to 2.5 hours, but I stopped a lot for photos and to snack. The views are absolutely gorgeous!

The only con I have is that it's a very popular place, so parking can get difficult to find.

The hike is between easy to moderate. I went clockwise and found it enjoyable. The views of ocean and pine trees of rangers there are very blissful to see. Sometimes, the trail totally vanishes and all you have to do is to get past the boulder or rock covering it. Please carry bug repellent as there are lot of blood sucking insects and they will keep swarming you. Most of the time I could only only hear them. This trail would be very beautiful in raining season.

Really pretty area with tons of sandstone for bouldering and great spots to play and take pictures! Just a little short for me to give 5 stars, and there were a lot of other people around on a Sunday morning.

Did this again on weekend of 6-29-18. Has become my early season Sierra stretch out. Really nice and bugs not bad. No trail hassle with deadfalls, but make sure you get into your trail camps early to get a decent pitch area. Not a solitude destination with road noise and weekend campers at Big Basin, but a great trek nonetheless.

Great hike with nice variety of views, rocks, and a stream. Took us 3hrs.

Did this with 3 of my family members and a friend, decided to cut a mile off the hike by going down a "equestrian trail" what a mistake. As we got to the bottom sign reads not advised for hikers. this is mostly a downhill hike all the way. Very hard on the knees. Got to the point I thanked God for any up hill parts of the hike. Beautiful scenery. I say go for it. I am 55 years old.

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