Explore the most popular wildlife trails near Saratoga with hand-curated trail maps and driving directions as well as detailed reviews and photos from hikers, campers and nature lovers like you.

hiking
9 days ago

Lots of shade. Perfect for a get up and go hike. Good ups in the beginning.

A short and sweet hike that meets all the criteria when you're looking for something simple.

It is not too strenuous but has a few fun parts that'll get your heart rate up. The view isn't breathtaking, but very refreshing. It's not too crowded, nor is it desolate.

Great place for a short afternoon hiking that doesn't need too much preparation.

hiking
16 days ago

not alot of scenic views, but great shaded hike

backpacking
21 days ago

We started at Castle Rock instead of Saratoga Gap. This was highly recommended by the rangers and afforded us beautiful scenic views on Day 1 until meeting up with the traditional trail which mostly follows the highway for the first day.

Day 1: Starting from Castle Rock, hiked 9.5 miles to Waterman Gap Camp. Super remote, but had a bathroom and water spout so it was perfect. Campsite 1 is the best!
Day 2: Hiked another 9/10 miles to Jay Camp in Big Basin Redwoods State Park. There are facilities here and it is not as remote but still great.
Day 3: The last ~ 10 miles take you back to Waddell Beach. A much recommended detour visits Berry Creek Falls. We actually ended this night at a beach in Davenport at the main stoplight across the highway from the restaurants. There were fire pits for a bonfire and we stayed the night on the beach. This was actually our favorite night.

The trail is closer to 30 miles than 25. We parked one car at Waddell Beach and another at Castle Rock since there is NO SHUTTLE and none of us had phone service either. The start and end points are roughly one hour away from each other driving.

WEATHER was GREAT, btw. We slept half in our bags as we had really warm nights even now in mid-October. Overall a great trip and I highly recommend it for this time of year when it is really cold elsewhere.

backpacking
23 days ago

Did it in one day, starting at Hwy 9 and 35 , finishing at Waddell Beach. Its around 29-30miles, not 25. Took us 9.5hrs excluding 2 breaks to eat and tape up our feet. Would have done it in 2 days but Big Basin is reservation only and books 2 months in advance so book early.

hiking
24 days ago

Fun for hiking. 5 stars if having a great view for photos.

This trail is great for running and hiking. It took me just over 3 hours to complete, and it was well worth it. Well maintained trails in beautiful forests and redwood groves in the lower loop, and more challenging rocky terrain with beautiful views in the upper loop. Bring plenty of water and download the map ahead of time!

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
1 month 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
1 month 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!

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

hiking
1 month ago

one of my all time favorite places to hike

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.

2 months ago

Okay hike. Pretty steep with some shade here and there. Consistent incline throughout the whole thing.

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!

Decent hike. Lots of inclines for a good workout. Saw some deer and butterflies, but not many views. Lots of shade though so good on a hot day.

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
3 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.

trail running
3 months ago

Nicely shaded out and back. Not a lot of parking and seems to be a popular trail with mountain bikers. Initial steep climb for the first 1.5ish miles but steady gradient with lots of switchbacks after. A challenge if you push for speed on the uphill, but also not too difficult to maintain a 10min mile pace for the entirety if you’re just in the mood for an easy run.

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.

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