hiking

nature trips

walking

views

trail running

forest

no dogs

birding

Situated in Santa Cruz Mountains, Castle Rock State Park features mossy forests with Douglas-fir, coast redwood, and madrone trees. The park's unusual rock formations are a big hit with rock climbers. The park boasts 32 miles of hiking trails and horseback riding trails that link up with an extensive trail system that connects the Santa Clara and San Lorenzo valleys as well as Big Basin Redwoods State Park, and the Pacific Coast. This beautiful California State Park is great place to take a weekend trip from the San Francisco Bay Area or San Jose and enjoy some bird watching or hit up the picnic areas, but be advised that basic backcountry campsites for backpackers are the only camping option. Equestrians are urged to call ahead for current trail information and due to high fire hazard, smoking is prohibited on the trails within Castle Rock State Park. Dogs are also not allowed on the trails or in the campground. The park is open sunrise to sunset.

The summit rock section is currently closed off, but there's a detour on the map that cuts out that section and keeps it similar in length.

Primarily shaded by trees that keep you cool during your hike. There are many plants that brush your legs as you walk by, so consider long pants over shorts.

Many beautiful views and rivers that it cuts through, highly recommended hike!

Nice views along the trail, variety of wildlife - tons of flowers and trees sighted. May get hot in the summer but was great for a 70-80 degree day with plenty of shade.

beautiful scenery and ideal for morning hikes for the crisp air and pretty dew on foliage. definitely looking forward to hiking some of the other trails at Castle Rock next time.

I love coming here. The views are amazing

There are lots of great trails in this park, but make sure to take a photo of the map at the beginning so you stay on the trail you want to be on. Also, the parking fee is $8.

What a visually stunning hike! One of the most beautiful old growth redwood forests I've had the pleasure of hiking through. From about 2 miles before Big Basin Headquarters and all the way to 1 mile from Berry Creek Falls, are pure trail magic. We hiked the Saratoga Gap route (which I recommend), and experienced stunning views within the first few miles. Diving into the old growth redwoods on day one was amazing. The next 15 miles hiking through BIg Basin is out of this world. SO gorgeous. Overall, this trail is wonderful. Great hike for beginning backpackers. We used this trail as an early season backpacking trip trip, and had a great timei


Cons:
-Hiking along Hwy 9 loses the backcountry experiance.
-Waterman Gap Camp forces you to camp quite close to neighbors.
-Camping at Big Basin Headquarters is extremely touristy.

Very moderate. On the weekend busy but parking was easy. The rock sculpting was impressive, worth a look. A bit foggy when I went but lots of good trail viewpoints. Sounds from the distant gun range echo like thunder from afar.

backpacking
28 days ago

A great 3 day hike for beginners. Beware if you are looking for views of the coast and oceans, this is not a hike for you as most of the trail goes deep into the redwoods. I would recommend arriving early at Big Basin Redwood State park to get a camping spot through the lottery (if you don't have one ahead of time). Other than that, the path was very well indicated, my only complaint is that at times the trail went along Highway 9, so on weekends it's not unusual to hear cars driving by.

EXCELLENT trails - amazing views - and not so difficult.
parking is a bit of an issue.
highly recommended..

Great cliff side hike with periodic framed views west. A few boulder scrambles but well-maintained trail. Obnoxious gun fusillades at the Goat point on the weekend.

Very nice trail with diverse scenery. Great views from the rock climbing spots.

You get to see people rock climbing its pretty cool!
Nice Hike

It was okay, not my favorite.

backpacking
2 months ago

A great starter backpacking trip, although I recommend having one experienced backpacker in your group. We split this into 3 days and for us it was the perfect amount of time. Beautiful scenery, especially between Big Basin and Waddell Beach, where you feel like you've stepped back in time to the prehistoric days. Hips and feet were a bit sore by the end of the third day. Taking off my boots and putting my feet in the water has never felt so good!

I started the trail from Saratoga Toll Road Trail (to the left) because through Indian trail it said no trespassing. Most of the trail goes through forest and the crossroads sometimes did get very confusing, because of no markings and they were not in my map. At the end of the trail it said you need to sight up somewhere, but there were no papers or anything; behind the fence it said you need a permission to go through from the park... very confusing. Overall it might be a nice trail for people who like to hike in forest, but nothing too entertaining for me, and confusing with no markings and that private property.

Went early on Sunday morning, 3/4. Take the unmarked trail to the left of the trailhead sign to go directly to Castle Rock. Didn't seem worth it to me, but to each their own. Some snow on the ground from yesterday's storm, with the sun melting snow in the trees. Wasn't expecting rain! Once I got to the falls I didn't need my raincoat. Despite the rain from yesterday, the falls were just more than a dribble. Nice hike on the Saratoga Gap side, but the Ridge trail gave much better views. It was more difficult with roots, steeper climbs, and boulders/rocks on the path, but worth it. Took me 3.5 hours with a lunch break. Nice area just west of Goat Rock to have a picnic. I hope to come back one day to do the Skyline to the Sea hike. Love having a wooded trail this close to home!

Beautiful trail, with a few rocks to casually climb and get hidden gorgeous views:)
Trail itself is well maintained.

Many ups and downs. Great mountain views. Fun to watch rock climbing and bouldering.

backpacking
2 months ago

Did this with my husband for our anniversary a year ago. My first official backpacking trip! We took 3 days. Tips for the person picking you up, be sure they know where they are going! A breakdown in communication had us waiting almost 2 hours, there is no cell service at Waddell Beach. I would do it again and split the hike into two sections instead of three. I would also stay an additional night in Big Basin to explore that area more!

Wet nice spot to hike, the views are incredible at some points, there is a look out deck about 2 miles in, and if u go a little further, there’s a huge rock on the edge of the cliff if ur brave enough to climb and sit and take an amazing photo..definitely would return here.

Beautiful nature. A touching calmness.

Four of us decided to do the Saratoga Gap to Waddell Beach hike all in one day. In order for us to accomplish it form sunrise to sundown we needed to run a good portion of it. We estimate we ran about 15 miles of it with on and off with breaks of course. We are all active, but none of us are long distance or avid runners. The trail is well marked and soft and moderate for the most part. It was difficult and arjurous trek to do in one day. We took 8 hours total with about 1 to 1.5 hours of breaks. We took a long break at big basin where we grabbed a quick bite at the store, then kept going until we hit the beach at 3:45pm.

I would not recommend hiking this entire trail in 1 day unless you can keep a 3.5 mph speed non stop, otherwise you are looking at a 12-14 hike to complete without running.

To the guy that complained about view and there only being redwood trees. He is right there are only redwood trees, lots of them. The only complaint I have is not of the trail itself ,but of the beach. It was very sandy and I got it all over my feet and inside my shoes way too sandy for my taste.

Enjoy!

Beautiful hike through the redwoods. We did it in a day. The only problem was it was a 30 mile hike not 25 as it is called out here. That meant our timing got messed up. We were supposed to reach the sea by sunset and instead had to hike the last part with flashlights and missed the sunset!

....planning this for the first time. gonna break it into two days from big basin. Just not sure how I am getting up to big basin yet...and back home.

After taking a slight detour on to to castle rock trail, we headed back to Saratoga gap trail then on to goat rock trail. Tried to go on a side trail (climbers only trail) seen on this map to bypass backtracking but it is apparently private property— there was even a sketchy red sign saying people should “heed the warnings”.. didn’t risk it. We went left at the fork on Saratoga to castle rock falls first, then back around down (or up rather) ridge trail. Overall, great hike!

It was an amazing trip. Too my dad and I two days. It's best to have someone drop you off at the beginning and pick you up at the end.

Load More