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Castle Rock, Saratoga Gap and Ridge Trail Loop

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Castle Rock State Park

Castle Rock, Saratoga Gap and Ridge Trail Loop is a 12.4 mile heavily trafficked loop trail located near Saratoga, California that features a waterfall and is rated as moderate. The trail offers a number of activity options and is accessible year-round.

Length 12.4 mi Elevation gain 2,237 ft Route type Loop

Kid friendly

Backpacking

Camping

Hiking

Nature trips

Rock climbing

Running

Cave

Forest

River

Views

Waterfall

Wild flowers

Wildlife

Rocky

Scramble

No dogs

Description
Waypoints (10)
Facilities
Tips

What is open now due to COVID 19? Castle Rock State Park is open from 8:00 a.m. to sunset. The Kirkwood parking lot. Day-use parking fees will be collected at the kiosk. Protective measures are in place for visitor and staff safety. Credit card payments are encouraged. Masks are required at the kiosk in accordance with the Santa Cruz County health order. Trails – Trail systems that allow for social distancing are marked as one-way. Select restrooms in the proximity of the parking lots will be available. What is closed? Falls Overlook Interpretive Shelter and connector trails leading to the Interpretive Shelter Connector trails leading to Castle Rock Trail Camps and trailhead for Skyline To The Sea trail Amphitheater at Kirkwood entrance All picnic tables/benches Sempervirens Point and Overflow dirt parking lot Great views, challenging hiking in the hills southwest of Silicon Valley. With lush woods, gorgeous vistas, challenging trails and remarkable stone formations, Castle Rock State Park is a highlight reel for hiking in the San Francisco Bay Area. You'll find a fascinating mix of trees -- gnarled oaks, towering Douglas firs, bark-shedding madrones -- but the rocks steal the show. Large formations called "tafoni" (which look like the work of honeybees) formed over eons as weathering processes gradually reshaped the stone. Castle Rock is the most notable tafoni formation, but there are many more in the park.

Parking - $8.00 (self pay) at the park entrance

Hiking poles come in handy on this hike. Trail Camp is popular with local Scout troops, most of whom are returning on Sunday mornings. A gun club about a mile up the road is most audible on the Ridge Trail -- it's best to hike this section of the trail last, so your hike does not open to the sound of gunfire. Watch for poison oak on narrow sections of the trail. What to bring: Water/Snacks Clothing in layers Sunscreen Camera

Weather
UV Index
Daylight
Reviews (1554)
Photos (1789)
Recordings (1391)
Completed (3424)
Alexandra Ho
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Hiking

I did the whole 12 mile loop, and for about nine of the 12 miles there were so many bugs swarming around my ears that the experience was pretty unpleasant. I had plenty of bug spray, and it didn’t seem to help. If it weren’t for the bugs, this would be a five-star hike, there’s lots of shade and some nice views.

Haley Conroy
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HikingGreat!

A wonderful short hike, lots of shade. Coming on a weekend can be hard since parking here since it is often packed.

Michelle Rodriguez
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarGray StarGray StarAugust 9, 2020
Hiking

Not a long hike but mostly uphill.

View Michelle's Recording
angelina v
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarAugust 9, 2020
HikingBugsGreat!

The trail I went on reached Castle Rock Falls and then the interconnector trail and ultimately back around to Goat Rock. The view when you start to head uphill and start seeing the Monterey Bay and see how vast the park is just absolutely breathtaking and it gets five stars for just that even though the waterfall wasn’t that visible this Saturday morning. The Goat Rock area and is really amazing as well. There are more flies/bugs and quite more rocky and sandy trails than anticipated.

Nicole Laprise
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarAugust 8, 2020
Hiking

Arrived at 7:30a on a Saturday and got a spot on the road near the Kirkland lot (lot costs $10 and doesn't open until 8a.) Hiked counter-clockwise and it took me 4 hours and 15 mins. Most of the trail is shaded and there were some bugs but not too bad.

Marco A.
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Hiking
View Marco's Recording
Karen Fahrner
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HikingBugs

Hikers beware, what is normally a GREAT hike is seriously risky this week, and who knows for how long. A swarm of aggressive and extremely difficult to see wasps on Ridge Trail chased and repeatedly stung us all of us in our group, causing extreme pain. We were on-trail the entire time, and did not veer from it. 24 hours later, and the bites are still horribly, painfully inflamed. DO NOT TAKE CHILDREN ON THIS HIKE until the park is able to resolve this. We were the second group to report this yesterday, and at this point the park has not been able to find the nesting area.

Nikko Cartaño
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarAugust 1, 2020
Hiking

Since covid-19, it’s a one way trail (provided with signs) though there were a handful not following protocol. Besides that, the views were breathtaking and was able to capture priceless moments with friends.

Anika Yalavarthi
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarGray StarGray StarGray StarGray StarAugust 1, 2020
HikingBugsOff trailRocky

Decent hike, but really narrow. Stooped after a half-hour because it was really dangerous. Be careful with kids.

bodhi m
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HikingBugs
View bodhi's Recording
Hugo Garcia Trabanino
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HikingRocky
View Hugo's Recording
Robert Chang
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Hiking

great hike same views

Cole Miller
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Hiking

A lot of Uphill for an underwhelming payoff

Brent W
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarGray StarGray StarJune 26, 2020
Hiking

The views atop Goat Rock were what drew me back to to Castle Rock SP; something about being atop the marine layer. Last time I was here was our (the Mrs.’ & me) first hike together, nearly 10 years ago. Hard to top the magic of that...but today’s hike offered some views above the marine layer & saw a few deer. The loop met what I desired in length & elevation, but wasn’t the hike I treasured upon initial discovery. Maybe it was stayed home. Maybe it was the hyper active gun range that was audible at San Lorenzo river crossing & again along Skyline-to-the-Sea on the way back to the car. Maybe it was the eye-swarming bugs. Maybe it was the fact that I didnt feel safe scampering up goat rock (seems age has limited my comfort in finding a way up or the face of the rock is more vertical than it was 10 yrs ago). Or maybe it was just that this loop was just average, given some of the trails I’ve been on. The hike started with an easy descent over 4 miles followed by an steady climb. I started early (parked about 6:30am) so wasn’t exposed to direct sunlight most of the hike. So things were cooler & enjoyable with the breeze; might be a bit toasty through the afternoon with sun exposure.

View Brent's Recording
Vincent To
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarGray StarGray StarJune 18, 2020
HikingBugsOver grown

Solid hike but overrated. For ratings like this I expect to be blown away but it’s very similar to views you get with all the other good hikes in Saratoga area (i.e. Sandborn). Luckily when I got here it wasn’t at the main entrance, which I knew was closed. It took me to a satellite parking lot where I didn’t have to pay! A good portion of the loop is one way so make sure to find where the entrance is. You’ll have to walk across the street from the parking lot to get there. There are some unique views when you hit Goat Rock and after that it is pretty much the same woodsy trails over and over again. There were a few instances when I got lost and that was when I hit Campgrounds. There were instances when I hit a fork in the road and I decided to take the one that looked ‘normal.’ Really it was because I was zoning out. Having the downloaded map really helped! Expect for a lot of shrubbery to brush up against your legs; I recommend long pants to avoid chances of getting poison ivy (luckily I didn’t). Not necessary but an extra pair of socks would have made my trip much more enjoyable lol.

Yasmin Karimi
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarJune 17, 2020

If you're looking to go to castle rock - I would not recommend that you take the route in this trail. The best part of the trail is the goat rock section and the first & last 2 miles of this trail are pretty dull without any views (ie 4 miles of boring trail). Instead, I would recommend just doing the goat rock 6-7 mile loop. If you want a longer hike, then pair this trail with summit rock or part of the southwest section of Skyline to the sea trail (headed towards big basin).

Laila Hashimi
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Hiking

Beautiful place the view is breathtaking the hike is not that difficult

Flavia Rodrigues
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarMay 25, 2020
Hiking

I went there today, the trail it was 14.7 miles. I liked it but it’s hard to figure out when the trails start or finish. I’ve been confused so many times.

Vishnu M
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarMay 25, 2020
Hiking

Trail is beautiful. It is at least 2 miles more than the mentioned distance. It is very easy to get lost with the big loop, it is definitely recommended to download the maps before starting. Also the map doesn’t cover the waterfall or may be I missed a turn or something.

Jiong Tian
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarMay 24, 2020
Hiking

The view is good, but the map isn’t accurate

Comment from AllTrails

- 2 months ago

Map has been updated, thank you!

View Jiong's Recording
David Lecoutre
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Hiking

The trail is nice and way longer than stated (over 11mi)

View David's Recording
David S.
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Hiking

Good hike!

Lorena P.
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarApril 25, 2020
Hiking

Este es un lugar muy bueno para caminar hermosas vistas pero lo mejor de todo son las rocas

Laila Hashimi
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarMarch 31, 2020
Hiking

Beautiful place with lots of sun and shade it’s open to hike but you can’t park inside

View Laila's Recording
Daron Cam
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Does anyone know if this trail is open?

Amanda Mamo
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarMarch 27, 2020
Hiking

I thoroughly enjoyed this trail! Walking along the side of the mountain with a amazing overlook of trees and mountain ridgelines in the distance. Lots of rocks along the side to sit on and enjoy the view. I found the map helpful. I started following signs to the waterfall then continued along Saratoga trail and turned right when I got to the campsite. I took the pass to goat rock instead of following the loop all the way around. Nice and cool in the woods and lots of greenery! No ppl on March 25 earlier in the day but many groups started showing up after 3.

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