Castle Rock State Park

Date: 03 August 2014

Difficulty: Easy

Distance: ~6miles

Trail: Parking lot -> Saratoga Gap Trail -> Waterfall -> Campground -> Ridge Trail -> Saratoga Gap Trail -> parking lot

Things to note: Best for rock climbing (get a lot of webbing – 80ft+ for goat rock). Good hiking destination during the summers. Too much water not necessary. No dogs/bikes allowed.

Pictures: here

I realized that I hadn’t had an entry for this park. Having been to Castle Rock on multiple occasions for rock climbing, I had totally forgotten to put up a blog entry for this one. So here it comes finally. To start of with, Castle Rock state park is one of the parks, which is closest to the south bay area that offers a few picturesque vistas along with an almost completely shaded trail. I would consider going to Castle Rock Park for a hike during the summer months.

This time around Lakshmi planned the hike and I wanted to try out my leg again, thanks to my crazy SF half marathon run last week. This small hike was the perfect one for me and it had been more than a month since I hiked. We headed out to the park by 7am and reached the parking lot by 8am. Interestingly the parking lot was quite empty. The Saratoga gap trail is the first part of the 31-mile Skyline-to-sea trail that runs all the way from Skyline Boulevard to Waddle beach. We started this hike at 8:10am. The trail is shaded completely at the start which also reduces the temperature by a couple of degrees right away. It was a cool walk into the forest. This time around, we were just 5 people – Rajath, Shyam, Lakshman, Laksmi & I. We slowly hiked to the intersection of the ridge trail & the Saratoga gap trail. We took the left fork towards the waterfall. The weather had been quite dry over the past few months transforming the falls into a mere slide. There wasn’t any water in the streams that fed the falls. After a short break, we hiked along the trail towards the campsite which is little less than 3 miles in. We took a break at the campsite. I refilled my water stock and we were heading back to the parking lot. To make it a loop hike, we took the Ridge trail which presented to us some nice vistas.

The mist/cloud covered mountains looked simply stunning. It was a white blanket that cozily nestled the mountains and the underlying valley floor. We were literally above this blanket. After about a mile of hiking we arrived at goat rock. We spent a while here dilly-dallying around the rock. My leg wasn’t all that great at this point in the hike so I took it slow from here on to the parking lot. We reached the parking lot by 11:00am and were back home by noon. It was a great way to start Sunday.