Apr 30, 2012 at 10:39 pm #1289382
I went to Castle Rock State Park over the weekend to get a sense of the Skyline to the Sea trail.
I found the park really crowded on both Saturday and Sunday. I am not sure how the Park closures were selected but based on my one weekend it seems crazy to close this place come September based on apparent number of visitors.
I hiked the Saratoga Gap trail to Waterman Gap Trail Camp rather than starting on the Skyline trail. The scenery is nice but I found much of the trail too close to highways and I crossed pavement three times in about as many miles. There is also a large section of the trail that crosses a private paved road which is pretty uncomfortable considering the numerous signs warning of civil penalties for straying.
There is a shooting range relatively close to the Main Trail Camps and this presents far more gunfire than I seek while backpacking but the park is in a relatively populated, multi-use area so I understand that it has to be accepted. I am glad I went down to Waterman Gap camp even though it wasn't technically opened. This is a spacious area with multiple sites and only a little road noise as opposed to constant gunshots.
Temperatures were really mild. I wore shorts, a silk weight tee shirt and a ball cap for the trip. I brought a synthetic pullover but only needed it for a few minutes while eating breakfast. My wind shirt would have probably sufficed as I didn't spend much time out of my bag.
This was my first time using the hammock I bought off Ken Thompson on the forums and that is a nice way to rest. There is a definite learning curve and I need to get out a lot more and work with it. Overall sleep was very good although I did have some cramping in my calves and need to figure out the best position for me. A thin torso pad and my puffy were plenty of insulation under my bag. The Rock Wren was great in a hammock as I didn't have to wriggle completely out to get up but could put my feet and arms out first and get my feet down before sitting up. I'll try to find as many chances as I can to practice with the hammock over the summer.
From Castle Rock parking lot to Waterman Gap Trail camp is 11.8 miles. I got started late, at 2pm on Saturday and got into Waterman Gap at 6. I felt fine the next morning and the first nine miles went easily. The last 2.8 proved to be draining and really taxed me although I finished in 5 and a quarter hours. I would like to try the whole Skyline trail in a day but 23.6 miles in 23.25 hours really beat the hell out of me and I need to work on my fitness.
My pack weight with food and water was just under 10 lbs. That really helped me keep up the pace. I think it's a real shame that this park will close and I definitely need to head back there before the end of summer.May 1, 2012 at 6:37 am #1873033
Matthew, the portion of trail that crosses Hwy 9 is what ruined that trip for me a few years back
First, Castle Rock will not be closing anytime soon. It's in the same mode of operation like Coe now.
Second, Csstle Rock does offer nice scenery. You need to see more of it.
Third, the section of the Skyline To The Sea trail between Big Basin HQ to Hwy 1 is by and far the most scenic portiion
Thanks for sharingMay 1, 2012 at 7:02 am #1873042
Thanks, Ken, I will try the portion from the sea, soon.
Castle Rock is still listed as scheduled for closure and there are even flyers up at the parking lot asking for grass roots assistance to prevent it. I should have talked to the ranger about it, especially after seeing how crowded it was; the parking lot was full both days and the road was packed with cars leading to the park. It's good to hear that it will stay open.
I missed the waterfall and a few other spots so I will definitely head back.May 1, 2012 at 1:15 pm #1873165
A group like ones stepping up to keep Coe have done the same with Castle Rock. I read this in our local paper …..though things can change as we knowMay 3, 2012 at 8:57 am #1873935
@datsclarkLocale: San Francisco
Thanks for the write up. I'm thinking about heading down to castle rock this weekend. The reservations for overnighting are first come first serve. Did you have any issue getting a spot?May 3, 2012 at 9:57 am #1873960
Andrew, the only spot that might be a problem is Big Basin HQ. They have 1 designated backpacker campground. I would check with them when it comes to staying there. Otherwise you will have no problemsMay 3, 2012 at 12:20 pm #1874017
I showed up at 2:00pm on a crowded and sunny Saturday and was only the 4th person to reserve a campsite at Castle Rock. However, I ended up at Waterman Gap trail camp which technically did not open until 5/1. I am not sure how bad Big Basin trail camps were.
I suspect that you might have a fair shot this weekend at a camp in Big Basin. The Castle Rock camps are only about 3 miles from the parking lot; less than ideal for a long hike.May 7, 2012 at 6:10 am #1875178
@datsclarkLocale: San Francisco
Thanks guys — you were entirely right on both parts. No problem getting a camp site. And really not a very long hike from anywhere. I'd only day hiked around Castle Rock before. We did manage to make a 9 mile hike out of getting to the camp ground though. Not the best local spot to camp, but sure nice to get out.
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