Explore the most popular 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.

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Saratoga, California Map
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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
11 days 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
14 days 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.

Nice shade throughout. Beautiful change in climate and landscape between Sanborn and Castle Rock. Very hard hike but one of my favorites. Exhausted at the end of it.

nature trips
18 days ago

Nice sunset view

hiking
22 days 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.

We started at 6:45 am and got done before it became too hot. Good hike for starters - not much elevation. Distance may not be comfortable for kids or dogs.

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.

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.

We hiked twice in the last two weeks. First time we stopped at Skyline, because the mist was getting heavier; The second time we were sort of lost as the sign wasn’t quite clear after Skyline. There were many bugs flying around and it was not pleasant at all. We hiked 14.5 miles but only gained 2700 ft of elevation. We liked the first part, the bugs could be due to the hot and humidity.

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

easy, shaded, and great for a sunset hike!

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.

hiking
1 month ago

pretty consistent incline, but perfect for heartrate.

hiking
1 month ago

Beautiful and moderate forest trail with plenty of nature features to check out.

My daughter and I rate this as one of our favorite trails. We do it often and the views are always spectacular.

hiking
1 month ago

Another good hike to keep a 60 year old healthy. Plenty of shade but can work up a good sweat on a hot day. Would love to try this again after a spring rain.

hiking
1 month ago

Enjoyed the sanborn trail!

My husband, 11 year old son, and myself tackled this one last summer. It was our first through hike. The trees were enormous and we found the scenery inspiring. the camp grounds were easy to find and well maintained. We had no problem refilling water bottles at the camp sites. At the end there was a moment of of wonder and achievement as we caught site of the ocean.

I just wish there had been an easier way to find the trailhead and some way to call a shuttle at the end as we had no cell reception and had family “guessing “ when to pick us up.

A friend and I walked from Castle Rock to Big Basin. We certainly could have finished at Waddell Beach in one day. There is day parking available throughout the Skyline-to-the-Sea Trail and you can pick up the trail in various spots. This is a fairly easy, uneventful trail. We saw a deer and a turkey, felt (!) loads of mosquitos and heard the gunshots. All in, I’m disappointed to say that this is my least favorite trail in the Bay Area. It lacks gorgeous views throughout most of the trail and the logistics are cumbersome. Still if you want to log 30+ miles and end up in the beach, here are a few tips: call the Big Basin headquarters and check for trail closures the day before and aim for a cool day as the trail can get unbearably hot. And do NOT rely on a cellphone connection to call a Uber/Lyft, taxi or friend.

I highly enjoyed this trail when I lived in STL. I would drive 30 mins to come to this park almost weekly. The trail is nice and easy to navigate. The views are great and even better in the winter.

backpacking
1 month ago

I'd give this hike 2.5 stars, so I'm being generous rounding up to 3 stars.
I don't typically write reviews, but I felt indebted since I often use AllTrails, and I wished someone had told me what I'm about to write -- so hopefully what I write can serve as value for someone in the future.

We backpacked this trail in 2 days, spending 1 night at Jay Camp (near Big Basin HQ).
As most have commented, it's more popular to backpack over 3 days, and I didn't see any comments regarding 2 days, so that's my purpose for posting in detail.

Firstly, especially important for backpackers, unless you're getting dropped off, you can't start at Saratoga Gap, you'll need to start at Castle Rock (for parking a car) which will add additional mileage (~3 to 5, depending on which trails you take to meet up with Skyline-to-Sea).
We didn't know about the extra distance, and the popularly noted first day hike to Waterman Camp is only ~8 miles, which felt short for one day, hence our decision to try to squeeze the more popular Day 1 & Day 2 hikes into just one Day.
Also, a significant portion of this hike is along the side of the highway (though not directly on the highway, you can clearly see and hear the cars zooming by and you're often walking along side peoples private property and houses) which I find to be a huge drawback and is why I'm subtracting at least 1 stars from the rating. You can take some alternative trails, as we did, to minimize the portion along the side of the highway, but this adds more distance to the total hike and you'll still be spending a significant amount of time along the highway regardless.
All in all, it took us over 20 miles to backpack from Castle Rock to Jay Camp, which is a lot longer than the estimated 15 miles we had in mind, and this can be an extremely tolling addition, especially when carrying 50lb backpacks.
We also found that the trails weren't always clearly marked and the trail markers present were few and far between, so you're often unsure how much distance is remaining and you also can sometimes get confused and question if you're on the right trail. This fact is another reason why I'm subtracting a star.

In summary, I found the best part of the trip to be the first few miles starting in Castle Rock to the High Way (taking as many alternative routs to avoid getting to high way quickly) as well as the last part of the trip from Jay Camp / Big Basin HQ to the Waddell Beach.

If done again, I would simply do an out&back from from Waddell Beach to Jay Camp / Big Basin HQ OR an out&back from Castle Rock to Waterman Camp instead of doing the Skyline-to-Sea.
Other downside (which effects my rating) that I want to note are; from Castle Rock to Waterman Camp you hike near a gun club and hear a lot of gunfire which is disheartening when trying to enjoy the sounds of nature and, as other folks have noted and I feel honor bound to repeat, Big Basin HQ is very popular and crowded with tourist, so it can get loud and not as relaxing to camp and enjoy the sounds of nature.

5.5m loop took me about 3 hrs. Average hiker here just to give you an idea. Do not worry about getting lost all trail fork had a trail signs and distance. During my hike in the am sometimes it gets foggy so did not see the views. Easy and fun.

Really good. No sunshine even in sunny day thats good for me. Good views

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