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.
My 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.
Wanting 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.
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)
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!