Castle Rock State Park

Before moving to the Bay Area, I had never been on a hike. It wasn’t until my sophomore year in college that I went on my very first hike and quickly fell in love with the outdoors. While there are plenty of hiking spots here in the Bay, I am not always impressed by them. Everyone has their own preferences when it comes to a good trail and mine tend to be rather specific. I usually look for spots that are:

  • GREEN- the more trees, the better in my opinion
  • Relatively challenging- I usually prefer somewhat of a challenge. Increasing elevation makes a hike more rewarding.. however intense hikes can take the fun out of a hike. So I usually aim for balance, especially when hiking with friends.
  • Free or with inexpensive fees
  • Scenic – this usually goes hand in hand with lots of trees, aka “neature” (sorry, I’m referencing one of my all-time favorite Youtube videos – Neature Walk), but also includes ocean and or mountain views. I prefer more of a natural landscape over urban trails overlooking cities.

That all being said, Castle Rock State Park has always been a favorite of mine.

img_3425My all-time favorite hike at Castle Rock State Park was a morning hike I did with a few of my friends two years ago. The fog made the hike feel a little eery and prettier in my opinion.



Although I usually hike on the trails starting at a lower elevation.  I managed to miss the trail head yesterday and winded up in a random parking lot overlooking the hills below.

6663c826-9737-430e-987b-8e4892d458deWanting to try a new trail, my friends, Maddie, Angela, and I chose to explore Castle Rock starting on a trail at a higher elevation. Well.. to be quite honest.. we were tired of driving around.. with absolutely no service.

Maddie having a little fun on our hike

Although the views were not as pretty as the ones from the main trail, I still enjoyed the views from above.. and goofing around with the girls.


I was also pretty proud of my sloth socks.


Castle Rock Overview:

Location: Los Gatos, California

Hours: sunrise – sunset & open all year

Camping: permitted in designated camp areas. First come, first serve.

Trail Length: 5.49 miles (partial loop)

Hiking time: takes around 3 hours to complete loop

Trail head elevation: 3090 feet (elevation change of ~1170 ft)

Difficulty: Moderate

Features: a waterfall, great variation of trees, lots of rock formations great for bouldering.

Fees: There is a $8 vehicle day-use fee. [Regular Sized Auto: $8 (Senior $7, age 62 or older); Bus Parking (10-24 passengers): $50; Bus Parking (25+ passengers): $100]
*Bring cash*  (If you do not park in the main lot, there is usually no fee for parking)

Dogs: Unfortunately, furry friends are not welcomed here 😦 However, Sanborn County Park is nearby and allows dogs.

Horses: Oddly enough, horses are allowed.. on the Saratoga Toll Road.

Trail traffic: Light to moderate. More people near beginning of trail.

Watch out for: ticks, poison oak, western rattlesnakes, and mountain lions. (I have yet to encounter any of these, but there are present in this region).

Website: click here for the park’s website


For more information on this hike, I highly recommend checking out the Bay Area Hiker’s post on Castle Rock State Park. I love how her site is organized and is very rich in helpful information. She also has a maps section where you can click on trails closest to you.

Well, I hope this post was helpful for those of you looking for a new hike to try out in the Bay Area!

Have you ever hiked Castle Rock?

Tell me about your favorite trails!


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