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Castle Rock State Park
Due to the catastrophic failure of Highway 35, visitors cannot access the park from Black Road or from South Skyline (Hwy 35). There is no estimate as to when this road will be repaired. Please use alternate routes to reach the park.
Due to a large landslide that continues to be unstable, the Skyline to the Sea Trail is closed indefinitely between Castle Rock and Big Basin State Parks. This includes Waterman Gap Trail Camp. Please contact 831-338-8861 if you need to cancel or reschedule backcountry reservations.
Recent storms have caused damage to Saratoga Gap Trail, Ridge Trail, Skyline to the Sea Trail and others.
Washouts, landslides, and down trees can make sections impassable and make travel on trails slow difficult, and dangerous. Give yourself extra time.
Use extreme caution when crossing damaged trail sections and swollen creeks. If in doubt, turn around and go back!
Rescue for injured hikers will be delayed by these conditions and might take many hours. Be prepared to remain overnight.
Volunteer with State Parks
Do you enjoy nature and being outdoors? Do you feel a strong sense of giving to the community, promoting conservation and stewardship, and sharing knowledge with others? You can join the team of dedicated docent’s at Castle Rock and help connect park visitors to the natural and cultural resources of the park. Docents are trained to interpret the Park, lead guided walks, and host the historic visitor center at Portola Redwoods. Wilderness Patrol volunteers are trained to interpret natural resources, access trail conditions, and provide information to park visitors at Castle Rock State Park, Rancho del Oso - Big Basin Redwoods State Park, and The Forest of Nisene Marks State Park.
The main requirements are: willingness to learn, time commitment for the course, and a post-training commitment of at least 6 hours per month. For further info or to fill in an application, please email Rose.Nelson@parks.ca.gov. Looking forward to hearing from you!
Docent Training for Portola Redwoods State Park and Castle Rock State Park:
Saturday, April 8 (general introduction training)
Saturday, April 15 (Castle Rock)
Tuesday, April 18 (leading school groups)
Saturday, April 22 (Earth Day Volunteer Event)
Sunday, April 23 (Portola Redwoods)
Saturday, April 29 (graduation)
Wilderness Patrol Training for Castle Rock State Park, Rancho del Oso - Big Basin Redwoods State Park, and The Forest of Nisene Marks State Park:
Saturday, April 1 (general introduction training at Rancho del Oso Natural History Center)
Saturday, April 8 (program overview at Rancho del Oso Natural History Center)
Saturday, April 15 (The Forest of Nisene Marks State Park)
Saturday, May 6 (Castle Rock)
Saturday, May 13 (Rancho del Oso Natural History Center)
Saturday, May 20 (graduation)
Visiting Castle Rock
Castle Rock State Park is a land of sculpted sandstone, lush forests, and sweeping vistas. From one of the highest ridges in the Santa Cruz Mountains, park visitors enjoy hiking, backpacking, and horseback riding. Rock climbers explore the park's caverns and rocks, including the namesake Castle Rock. Plant-lovers come for California black oaks, knobcone pines, and high-elevation coast redwoods. The park’s 34 miles of rugged trails conveniently connect to an extensive trail system that links the Santa Clara and San Lorenzo valleys to nearby Big Basin Redwoods State Park and open space preserves on the Skyline to the Sea Trail.
Primitive campsites for backpackers are the only overnight facilities. Equestrians are urged to call ahead for current trail information, and smokers are advised that, due to high fire hazard, smoking is prohibited on the trails within Castle Rock State Park.
Location - Directions
The park is located on Highway 35, just 2.5 miles southeast of the junction with Highway 9.
Latitude / Longitude: 37.2317 / -122.1158
Facilities - Activities
Castle Rock State Park offers 34 miles of trails.
Dogs are not allowed at Castle Rock State Park. Nearby Sanborn County Park allows dogs.
Horses are allowed on Saratoga Toll Road which extends from Saratoga Gap to Big Basin Redwoods State Park.
Bicycles are allowed on the Skyline Trail (Bay Area Ridge Trail) located on the north side of Highway 35.
Cars/Motorcycles/ and other vehicles are not permitted on any trail in the park.
A backcountry trail camp offers 20 sites that are first-come, first serve. To read about trail camps in State Parks in the Santa Cruz Mountains, please CLICK HERE
Castle Rock Parking area has a vehicle day-use of $8. Please bring cash.
There is no visitor center or store.
Summer weather is hot and dry. In winter, mountain peaks may be dusted with snow, and temperatures can drop below freezing. In any season, the weather can change quickly.
• Park hours are from 6 a.m. to sunset, including all trails. Only campers registered in backpack trail camps may remain in the park overnight.
• Except for service animals, dogs are prohibited throughout the park.
• Glass containers and smoking are prohibited throughout the park.
• Bicycles may be ridden only on the Skyline and Service Road trails.
• Horses are permitted on designated equestrian trails only. Please check the map before your ride.
• Firearms or any device capable of harming any person or animal are prohibited— including BB guns, spears, bows, arrows and slingshots.
• Fires are permitted only in designated fire rings in the Castle Rock Trail Camp during the OFF fire season. Gathering firewood, including twigs and leaves, is prohibited. Firewood is sold at the Castle Rock Trail Camp.
• Quiet hours are 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. daily.
• Please respect private property rights and stay on designated trails.
• All natural and cultural features are protected by law. Do not pick wildflowers, mushrooms, or other plants, or remove any park feature. Do not deface rocks with graffiti or feed, disturb, or harm wildlife.
• Beware of rattlesnakes, ticks, and poison oak in camp and on trails.
Available Activities and Facilities at Castle Rock State Park
Hike or Bike Campsites
Drinking Water Available