Nestled in the Santa Cruz Mountains, the Castle Rock Trail Camp offers intrepid backpackers 20 primitive sites perched on a ridge. The campground is a quick 2.6-mile hike on the Saratoga Gap trail from the overnight parking lot off of Highway 35.
Each site comes with a table, fire ring, nearby piped drinking water, and vault toilets. Because the campground is open year-round, a camp shelter is available for use during inclement weather.
Pro tip: Walk a short distance from the campground after setting up camp to catch the epic sunset.
Offered near the campground.
Natural features you'll find at Castle Rock Trail Camp.
Drop some Castle Rock Trail Camp knowledge on us.
This was a fun backpacking weekend. Awesome views on the way in, either way you take the trail from the parking lot. Decent amount of rock scrambles that were a little nerve wracking with the pack. But manageable. Campsites were okay - no potable water right now so you need to pack your own and/or bring a filter. We hiked down to a nearby stream to get extra water for filtering. Lots to do and explore in the park from camp. One big downside was that mosquitoes were everywhere, constantly. Not sure if it’s just the time of year (June and very hot) or what. Another downside is the nearby gun range which we heard all day, each day.
Camped here August 2019 and there is NO potable water in the campground. They may be fixing that but definitely check with the staff at the parking lot BEFORE you hike in. They have water at the overnight parking lot.
The hike is fairly easy and quick.
Campgrounds can fit multiple tents easily.
Lots of mosquitos in the evening - bring bug spray! A campfire might have helped but it was fire season so no fires allowed.
Overall a good trail and spot for first-time backpackers.
V chill spot. good privacy and water availability, as mentioned in other comments. FYI to people on bikes - you must ride in through the service entrance, which is juuust to the left of the gun range along 35. Its about... maybe a half mile before the parking lot. You don't need to go to the parking lot at all, you can pay down at the campsite. Its a sick dirt descent down, and steep climb out in the AM. enjoy.
Great campsite with a very easy hike in. Open year-round. Very pretty views - overall a great place for a overnighter to escape the nearby suburbia.
There are often a number of scouting groups here, so it's not the quietest campsite. The hike in is short but there are some areas that require small rock scrambles. Be aware that during heavy rain, some of the campsites will partially flood - take care in tent location selection.
The main Castle Rock parking lot is very small and can fill up. As this is the only lot that permits overnight parking, you'll just have to wait a bit for somebody to leave and a spot to open up.
You can feel comfortable rolling the dice going here even if you can't look up it's availability -- it apparently almost never fills up.
We asked a ranger around the 4th of July, and it sounds like they've only filled up a few times over the past few years, only on holiday weekends.
Especially given the burn ban this July, the campsites were more empty than filled when we went, even on the 4th.
This was an easy hike-in campsite. It had firewood, picnic tables, potable water, and restrooms. Our campsite was also fairly large and fit multiple tents comfortably.
If bringing a large pack, I recommend bringing trekking poles, as there are some parts of the hike where you have to scale some rocks and could benefit from extra balance.
The higher numbered sites are all heavily wooded, you can see into one other site from some place in your campsite if you try, but otherwise there is a good amount of privacy. Bathrooms and water access are also evenly distributed between the campground.
You'll probably notice on your way into camp- but the best sunset vista by far is about .3 miles before arriving at the campground. Return to the ledge after you setup camp for stunning views and a killer sunset