Brochure of Castle Rock State Park (SP) in California. Published by California Department of Parks and Recreation.
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Our Mission Castle Rock State Park The mission of California State Parks is to provide for the health, inspiration and education of the people of California by helping to preserve the state’s extraordinary biological diversity, protecting its most valued natural and cultural resources, and creating opportunities for high-quality outdoor recreation. Exquisite sandstone formations and sculpted caves are among the treasured features within this California State Parks supports equal access. Prior to arrival, visitors with disabilities who need assistance should contact the park at (408) 867-2952. If you need this publication in an alternate format, contact email@example.com. CALIFORNIA STATE PARKS P.O. Box 942896 Sacramento, CA 94296-0001 For information call: (800) 777-0369 (916) 653-6995, outside the U.S. 711, TTY relay service www.parks.ca.gov SaveTheRedwoods.org/csp Castle Rock State Park 15000 Skyline Boulevard Los Gatos, CA 95030 (408) 867-2952 © 2011 California State Parks (Rev. 2017) park’s vast wilderness. C astle Rock State Park is a place of abundant solitude, wilderness, high cliffs, and sweeping vistas. Unique patterns on weathered sandstone, lush forests, and stream-fed canyons make up the park’s diverse features. From one of the highest ridges in the Santa Cruz Mountains, visitors enjoy panoramic views of Monterey Bay. Encompassing more than 5,150 acres of wilderness and 34 miles of trails, the park is popular with rock climbers, hikers, and equestrians. Trails connect to nearby state parks and open space preserves, expanding visitor travel from the skyline to the sea. Summer weather is hot and dry. In winter, mountain peaks may be dusted with snow, and temperatures can drop below freezing. CULTURAL HISTORY Native People The park is located among what once was home to many different tribal communities. Over thousands of years, the tribes of the region have come to be collectively recognized as the Ohlone people. Several areas in this location served their dietary and spiritual needs. Ohlone visionaries used the massive rocks to connect to their spiritual world and to acquire personal enlightenment. They also collected a wide variety of plants for medicine and food. Native people hunted deer, pronghorns, and bears that were attracted to the area’s abundant vegetation. Today’s park lies within a major trail system that was used to move resources inland from the coast. The Smead and Partridge farms were the largest operations on the ridge, with orchards of apples, pears, walnuts, and grapes. Near the park’s interpretive shelter, heritage trees planted in the early 1900s still bear fruit. Castle Rock— one of many sandstone outcrops in the park Gold Fever By 1849, thousands of immigrants had arrived in California searching for gold. The newcomers needed lumber to construct homes and buildings for new towns. The South Pacific Coast Railroad built new lines for access between the Santa Cruz mountains and the Alameda port. By 1884, 28 lumber mills operated in the Big Basin / San Lorenzo Valley area; the mills yielded more than 34 million board feet of lumber each year. Coast redwood made excellent lumber, and tanoak bark was used to tan leather goods. Oncethick forests were rapidly laid bare. Agriculture Agriculture also altered the Castle Rock landscape for nearly 100 years. Farming, hunting, fishing, and trading made it possible for area families to be self-sufficient. Creation of the Park Judge Joseph Welch of Santa Clara Valley purchased a 60-acre parcel on Castle Rock Ridge in 1908, when logging was still ravaging the hillsides. He established a precedent by opening his land for the public to enjoy its scenic vistas and rugged landscapes. With Welch’s determination, Castle Rock soon became a popular tourist destination. Dr. Russell Varian, a pioneer of x-ray and radar technology, spent much of his youth exploring and hiking the canyons near Castle Rock. Varian was the first to measure Earth’s magnetic field, using some sites in today’s park. In 1959, he secured an option to purchase this land and planned to donate it to California State Parks. Varian died before completing the purchase. The Sierra Club and Sempervirens Fund later donated the land in his memory. In July of 1968, Castle Rock was designated a state park. NATURAL HISTORY Wildly eroded sandstone formations create prominent ridges in the park’s canyons. A waterfall fed by natural springs cascades 75 feet down the steep mountain slopes to the San Lorenzo River. The river flowing through the park provides spawning habitat for steelhead. Steep trails lead to the unusual rock formations at Varian Peak, Goat Rock, Russell Point, and Castle Rock. Geology Castle Rock’s famed sandstone outcrops originated as submarine fan deposits on the continental shelf about 30 to 40 million years ago. These shelf deposits were then elevated and moved north by repeated violent movements along the tectonic plate boundaries now defined by the San Andreas Fault. All of the rocks west of the fault line are fundamentally different from the rocks on the east side. The uniquely sculpted, rounded rock outcrops along Castle Ridge have eroded to form pits, pockets, ribs, and ridges. Referred to as tafoni, these erosional patterns have endless variations — from pock marks to honeycombed surfaces to large concretions and caverns. These complex patterns form with repeated exposure to erosion from blowing sand, water, and chemical and physical changes over eons. Observation deck at Castle Rock Falls Vegetation Castle Rock State Park is recovering from years of agricultural use and logging that have caused significant vegetation changes. The park hosts diverse native and non-native plant communities: mixed evergreen forest, black oak forest, chaparral, grasslands, and riparian woodland. Spring flowers display a colorful palette: pink or purple Chinese houses, lilac slender phlox, deep blue sky lupine, pink farewell-to-spring, and golden elegant madia all thrive on the hillsides. Virgin- and second-growth redwoods grow at an unusual elevation, above 2,500 feet along Saratoga Gap Trail. Their low water supply accounts for these dwarf redwood trees’ uncommonly short 40- to 100-foot heights. Climate change affects all living things within the redwood forest. Experts fear that the area’s increase in average temperature and decrease in rain and thick summer fog will endanger redwoods and other plants and creatures that depend on the redwood environment. Animal life Wild animals and reptiles seen in the park include black-tailed deer, gray foxes, coyotes, California newts, mountain lions, and many species of snakes. Turkey vultures, red-tailed hawks, acorn woodpeckers, quail, and scrub jays may be spotted. Peregrine falcons may soar overhead. Peregrine falcon From Summit Meadows Trail, a view of Monterey Bay in the distance RECREATIONAL ACTIVITIES Castle Rock State Park is part of a regional trail system linking the park with the San Francisco Bay Area and the Santa Cruz coast. The two major trail corridors — the Skyline to the Sea and Bay Ridge Trails — lead hikers and backpackers through steep canyons, dense old-growth redwood forests, creeks, and fields of wildflowers. Picnics —The Partridge Farm site has picnic tables and an interpretive shelter. Camping —Two trail camps — Castle Rock with 20 primitive sites and Waterman Gap with 6 primitive sites — are available. Both camps have water and pit toilets. An inclement-weather shelter at Castle Rock Trail Camp provides a roof during storms. Hiking and backpacking trails — The park offers 34 miles of nature trails, many with steep and narrow slopes. The Skyline-to-the-Sea Trail connects Castle Rock and Big Basin Redwoods State Parks. The 5.6-mile Saratoga Gap and Ridge Trail Loop leads to Goat Rock, Castle Rock Falls, Russell Point Overlook, and the Castle Rock Trail Camp. Goat Rock Overlook provides panoramic views of the San Lorenzo Valley and the Pacific Ocean. The moderately difficult Ridge Trail is a potential place to see the endangered peregrine falcon. The Saratoga Toll Road, a historic logging road and stagecoach line from 1871, is now a well-shaded and graded hike offering some scenic viewpoints. ACCESSIBLE FEATURES The 0.08-mile accessible path from Castle Rock parking lot leads to an ADA-compliant picnic table with woodland views. Parking and the pit toilet at the end of the trail may require assistance. Accessibility in state parks is continually improving. For updates, visit the website at http://access.parks.ca.gov. NEARBY STATE PARKS • Big Basin Redwoods State Park 21600 Big Basin Way Boulder Creek 95006 (831) 338-8860 • Butano State Park 1500 Cloverdale Road Pescadero 94060 (650) 879-2040 • Portola Redwoods State Park 9000 Portola State Park Road La Honda 94020 (650) 948-9098 PLEASE REMEMBER • Park hours: open from 6 a.m. to sunset, including all trails. Only campers registered in backpack trail camps may remain in the park overnight. • Dogs (except for service animals), glass containers, and smoking are prohibited throughout the entire 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 feed, disturb, or harm wildlife. • Beware of rattlesnakes, ticks, and poison oak in camp and on trails. This park is supported in part through Portola and Castle Rock Foundation www.portolaandcastlerockfound.org ROCK CLIMBING Castle Rock State Park provides a popular site to hike and rock climb. Climbers have scaled the park’s outcrops of Vaqueros sandstone — Castle Rock and Goat Rock — for nearly a century. The sandstone’s relatively hard exterior and unique tafoni patterns are ideal for bouldering and rock climbing. To preserve the character of these unique rock formations and minimize the impact on soils, vegetation, wildlife, other climbers, and visitors, Castle Rock State Park requires low-impact climbing and supports “Leave No Trace” practices. Properly dispose of all trash and protect the park’s natural resources. Observe all park rules and closures — Climbing and other off-trail activities are not permitted in the San Lorenzo Headwaters Natural Preserve. Check park bulletin boards before climbing for notice of possible restrictions to protect nesting birds, other wildlife, and areas recovering from overuse. Limit bolting — Before placing new bolts or replacing old ones, climbers are required to notify the park and receive approval. Please contact the park in advance to initiate a request for bolting. Help prevent erosion — Use only existing access trails. Please carry (rather than drag) crash pads. The park’s topsoil is fragile and easily displaced from the steep slopes in much of the park. Protect park vegetation — The plants and trees provide food and shelter for wildlife. Please avoid damaging mosses, lichens, and branches. Respect the integrity of the rock and the climb — Please do not chip, glue, remove, or otherwise alter the rock. Please allow two or three days after a heavy rain before climbing. Sandstone becomes much more fragile when damp. Rock climbing classes — Ropes classes and similar activities (whether held by private, educational, nonprofit, or commercial groups) require advance permits and insurance. For permit applications, call (408) 867-2952. 24 Unpaved Road Sa LONG RIDGE O P E N S PA C E P R E S E RV E Butano SP 00 00 24 Tra il d B C ng s Sp r i 26 Sa r at 00 Trail 0 260 ea -S 9 Ga e to 35 0 Sk 400 Feet 0 100 Meters 85 and 17 ylin eT rai l to Main Park Entrance S a r atoga BA LE R Goat Rock Gap Goat Rock Overlook E DG 0.4 0.6 0.5 Miles 0.8 Kilometers 20 E 22 00 RI 0.3 0.4 00 LD 0.2 24 NA 35 0.2 0.1 00 FA DO UP PER Se r 37° 14’ 00” 00 GE RID CK B 0 0 T Tra 0 1200 800 Feet 2400 50 100 150 200 250 Meters pe rG u lc 00 18 00 2400 2200 16 00 h 16 RIDGE 00 Ridge Trail P R I V AT E P R O P E RT Y 00 00 0 Sle e 26 600 2000 200 00 00 0 14 00 D eer C ree k 20 00 00 18 400 18 20 00 en z hry Woods Log Frog Flat Trai l oad Trl Toll R atoga S ar 260 16 o R iver 00 P R E S E RV E McD ona ld Gu lch E Lor 30 00 N AT U R A L 00 00 18 San 16 00 P Seagraves Parking P R I V AT E P R O P E RT Y UCK T B 14 00 to Boulder Creek 122° 08’ 30” 2400 P to 17 via Black Road FA 0 Sarato g a Gap Tr ail 26 Inclement Weather Shelter 2400 00 Bittles Parking 35 3231ft 985m H E A D WAT E R S CASTLE ROCK TRAIL CAMP AREA 18 19 2200 to 28 Sky idge Trail) line Trail (Bay Area R Mt. Bielawski (Mt. McPherson) 28 k MC e Road Tr vic ai l ek 122° 09’ 00” 11 22 21 25 24 20 23 5 1 4 32 80 Castle Rock 1800 Cr e to Big Basin State Park Main 12 SANBORNSKYLINE COUNTY PA R K 3214ft 980m U re e Ki sC 16 35 gs 00 236 to il K in 10 P R O P E RT Y Trail a Gap atog Sar 17 16 15 14 13 Camp 1000 0 Castle Rock Trail IDG DAMOND R k ngs Cree Spri aig Cr 2200 800 P R I V AT E Castle Falls Rock Overlook Falls 20 00 ng 00 18 a/ -Se rail -th e ect o r T -to nn ne rco S k yli nte Toll R o ad I Indian Rock p SAN LORENZO 00 14 9 a Ga tog 3200 00 Waterman Gap Trail Camp ra Sa Tr a i l 00 D K G P 2200 D C ID 3000 37° 13’ 00” 2400 1000 r Main Park Entrance P R I V AT E P R O P E RT Y 00 k 37° 13’ 00” 2600 to ne c on ail Tr 20 37° 13’ 00” 28 873m ee 37° 13’ 30” Peak G E Varian 2865ft Cr 122° 08’ 00” 122° 07’ 30” 122° 07’ 00” 122° 06’ 30” 122° 06’ 00” 122° 05’ 30” 122° 05’ 00” 122° 04’ 30” 37° 12’ 30” RID 0 00 LE Tra il d Tod 0 30 24 eT ra ap 2200 dT 2800 00 aG 00 37° 13’ 30” th 24 26 0 og 20 120 at 00 ST il 14 CA Rid g r 1200 9 37° 13’ 00” Sk -to ne yli Creek PA R K Russell Point 00 Waterman Gap Parking Sk yli P 35 Partridge Farm 10 P R I V AT E P R O P E RT Y 122° 09’ 30” 85 and 17 S A R AT O G A GAP AREA Mc Elr oy Rd Inte rc s 16 Tra Summit Rock Summit Roc k Trail see detail map below 1800 a to Waterman P Gap Camp P Summit Rock Parking S TAT E 00 00 P R O P E RT Y 37° 12’ 30” Trail ds oo Ser vice R o a d l 14 120 Saratoga Gap 0 2600 T 14 CASTLE SA 12 Waterman Gap to 00 oga C ra i g Rive r zo en San 00 t he - 1800 1600 yW o g hr Castle Rock Trail Camp Craig S p gs Creek rin 1600 14 0 e -Se aT ra i P R I V AT E see detail map above k Loop 1200 Nu tm Sk y li ne -t o -t h e -Sea Sum mi tM ea do ws Trail 37° 15’ 00” 37° 14’ 30” 240 rail 100 Skyline-to -th P ee 2200 ne Springs Trail 18 a To l l R S a r a t og oa 200 M 00 Cr 2000 P R I V AT E P R O P E RT Y 1200 16 ker oo 2600 Trail Gap Sa 37° 14’ 00” l) ek i re 0 9 a Tr Note: Please stay on trail in this area. 00 1600 to Santa Cruz 1800 R id ge 18 kh ui 9 800 Ft 100 Tr C eek Cr B ad 0 1800 e r ti Scotts Valley Henry Cowell Redwoods SP Wilder Ranch SP N S A R AT O G A GAP O P E N S PA C E P R E S E RV E 3076ft 938m Travertine Springs an ad Ro 400 a P R I V AT E P R O P E RT Y L 1200 o ic e R Serv ll to Santa Cruz 0 35 P R O P E RT Y av EA © 2011 California State Parks (Rev. 2017) 160 2200 r 17 ROCK ee 6 Waterman Gap Trail Camp 9 P Road Trail oll 1 P e e-S -th -to ne OC see detail map lower right 2200 9 Waterman Gap P a Old Corral Parking Boulder Creek to Santa Cruz P Long Ridge e Sempervirens Point Ti n 5 o Saratoga Toll R Lo Sarato g a 2 3 4 P 9 P 24 Red MountainParking P 2000 BIG BASIN S P il IC Los Gatos 35 9 Ben Lomond 9 Davenport 1 Parking 0 Parking 00 il Tra 2000 rail Sea T Skyline - t o -the-Se a Trail l 240 Trail eg P R I V AT E 00 2200 to - Tra i Red Mountain Overlook 20 2200 2000 r yA yline Trail (B a Sk 0 Waterfall eylin Sk 00 0 180 P R I V AT E P R O P E RT Y M ou nt ain 9 Sara tog a 18 160 Telephone 1200 IF 0 2200 Hwy 9 Turnout Re d Restrooms 236 160 P Information to Big Basin SP HQ 9 to Los Angeles Saratoga 18 Ach ista ca 00 37° 15’ 30” Saratoga Gap Año Nuevo SP 2000 Trail Parking 85 236 to San Big Francisco Basin Redwoods SP 880 280 35 Castle Rock SP Fire Station Locked Gate 6 Km 4 Portola Redwoods SP S A R AT O G A G A P O P E N S PA C E P R E S E RV E 1600 2 State Park Horse Staging Area Picnic Area 122° 04’ 30” San José to San Francisco 280 4 Mi 2 0 C PA Campground (not a through road) 122° 05’ 00” Castle Rock rato g Accessible Feature Mi 122° 05’ 30” l Trai ap aG Trail: Accessible WAT E R M A N GAP TRAIL CAMP AREA 122° 06’ 00” 0 00 00 26 37° 16’ 00” 26 Trail: Multi-Use 122° 06’ 30” 37° 16’ 00” 35 Paved Road Trail: Hike & Horse 122° 07’ 00” pT ra il Major Road Trail: Hike 122° 07’ 30” 37° 15’ 30” 122° 08’ 00” 37° 15’ 00” 122° 08’ 30” 84 and 92 00 to 37° 14’ 30” 122° 09’ 00” 22 122° 09’ 30” Legend