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Copyright © 2000-2002 by Michael Wimble, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

Saturday, February 2, 2002

Castle Rock State Park

Another waterfall hike. We began with 8 hikers and picked up two new friends along the way -- Mary and Roger. This was a most unusual hike. It has been snowing in the Santa Cruz mountains for the last couple of days. This is extremely rare.

For the gallery of pictures from the hike, click HERE.

See the Trip Report below.

Castle Rock is one of the most popular hiking sites in the Santa Cruz Mountains. It is more or less connected to a series of trails along Skyline Boulevard, a.k.a. Highway 35. Its most famous features include a 25 foot (at least) waterfall that flows most of the year, and numerous rock formations. Goat Rock often has rock climbers on it, though the space for viewing them is very limited.

The trails are well traveled and well maintained. Some very short sections may involve a steep climb. One section involves climbing over a large boulder which some will feel better doing with their hands on the rock itself.

Poison oak is present on a few sections, but can be easily avoided by staying on the trail. There is a profusion of wildflowers in the spring, and several open meadow areas are lush with flowers then.

Most of the trail is under cover, but part of it is exposed and offers good views of the valley below and even the ocean, 20 miles away.

The short hike is about 2.5 miles and consists of a mostly long, gradual descent, then a long, level walk, a short moderate climb, a long gradual climb, a short, moderate descent, and a long, gradual climb back to the beginning. The trail is covered for 2/3 of the distance of the short hike. There is a great view of Castle Rock Falls, two benches along the way, informational signs, and some great views.

This trail is moderate on the "Wimble Scale". Plan on one large water bottles and a snack. The hike will usually take 2 hours or more.


From the intersection of Highway 9 and Highway 35, go about 2.6 miles south to the Castle Rock State Park entrance on the west side of Highway 9. Parking is $5.00. Some people try to avoid paying the park fee, thus hurting the future of the park, by parking on Highway 9 itself. There is very limited legal parking on Highway 9 near the park entrance.

There is a toilet in the parking lot, and at the campground (nearly 3 miles further). There is no water until you get to the campground. A pay telephone is in the parking lot. Maps are occassionaly available, but a large trail map is shown on a board near the trail head.

On line information

The California State Parks page at

The Bay Area Hiker page is at

Virtual reality panoramic views are at

A story about one of the rangers, Miles Standish, can be found at

Trip Report

We showed up in 4 cars to find the main parking lot was closed due to snow. So, we parked off the main road, suspecting that we might not be able to get out of the icy parking lot and back onto the road. Ted even packed some dirt, leaves, and branches under his wheels while everyone was getting ready.

In the parking lot, someone had constructed a snowman (above). The temperature was about 45°F as most started out. Ted, Larry, and Mike waited for Dirk to show up, who decided only at the last moment to go on the hike. We all met up again just before Castle Rock (see the picture gallery, mentioned at the top of this page).

After climbing around the rocks for a while, we continued to the intersection with the main trail, and then went down to the falls. There we first met Mary and Roger, who took a picture of us all. They began to hike along with us, sometimes leaving, sometimes joining again.

At the ridge line, we stopped briefly for water, a snack, and to look towards the ocean which was visible as a cloud bank under the clear sky. The temperature was quite a bit warmer in the exposed sun of the ridge line and nearly everyone took off their gloves and jackets.

Along the way to Goat Rock, Mary and Roger decided to become members of our hiking group. At the rock, we watched some of the rock climbers. At that point, 3 people took the path to the information center and across the mountain top back to the main road; Mary and Roger stayed to watch the hikers; and the rest of us climbed back to the creek and then did the long hike back to the parking lot.

At the parking lot, we all helped push one car out of the snowbank, back onto the road. Then they helped us move Ted's car. Then it was Mike's turn to get the van pushed onto the road. Larry and Dirk's car, being parked more into the sun, didn't need a push.