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Castle Rock State Park (California): Wikis


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Castle Rock State Park

Manzanita branches in the park
Location Santa Cruz County / Santa Clara County, California
Nearest city Saratoga
Coordinates 37°13′54.12″N 122°6′56.88″W / 37.2317°N 122.1158°W / 37.2317; -122.1158Coordinates: 37°13′54.12″N 122°6′56.88″W / 37.2317°N 122.1158°W / 37.2317; -122.1158
Governing body California Department of Parks and Recreation

Castle Rock State Park, located along the crest of the Santa Cruz Mountains, embraces 3,600 acres (15 km²) of coast redwood, Douglas fir, and madrone forest, most of which has been left in its wild, natural state. Steep canyons are sprinkled with unusual rock formations that is a popular rock climbing area. The forest here is lush and mossy, crisscrossed by 32 miles (51 km) of hiking trails. These trails are part of an even more extensive trail system that links the Santa Clara and San Lorenzo valleys with Castle Rock State Park, Big Basin Redwoods State Park, and the Pacific Coast. Castle Rock is the starting point of the Skyline-to-the-Sea Trail, a 30 mile (48 km) trail that leads to Waddell State Beach, north of Santa Cruz, CA. There are two walk-in campgrounds within the park for overnight backpacking.

Dogs are not allowed on the trails or in the campgrounds, and horses allowed only on designated trails.



Climbers prepare to ascend a large rock formation at Castle Rock State Park

As George Vancouver was scouting the inland areas on Monterey county charting the Pacific Coast of America under commission of England, he came across Castle Rock, which he called “the Castle,” and was “gratified with the sight of the most extraordinary mountain” he had ever seen. He said the “columns were of great magnitude and seemed to be of an elegant form.” He goes on in his journal entry to talk about the different aspects of the mountain, how the “excavations” resembled “different passages into the interior parts of the supposed building.” Also how the roof, “the summit of the mountain,” “appeared to be wholly supported by these columns rising perpendicularly with the most minute mathematical exactness.” Because he was so enthralled with the mountain, he had the artist on the trip with him paint a watercolor of the structure so he could show the people on his other ships and the people back in England what he saw.

References in Literature

Along with being the cause of the amazement of George Vancouver, Castle Rock was also the inspiration of John Steinbeck's Camelot castle in his book The Acts of King Arthur and His Noble Knights, along with other stories, such as Pastures of Heaven, in which Mr. Steinbeck says that it has “so serene a beauty.” In this short story, “The Murder,” he starts the book with “This happened a number of years ago in Monterey County...At the head of the canyon there stands a tremendous stone castle, buttressed and towered like those strongholds the Crusaders put up in the path of their conquests. Only a close visit to the castle shows it to be a strange accident of time and water and erosion working on soft, stratified sandstone.”

History of Ownership

This inspirational cliff overlooks the old Markham Ranch, which is now a housing development. The land, long before it became a housing development, was granted to the Spaniards by the Board of Land Commissioners to Charles Walters in October 1858 (Monterey County Place Names, Donald Thomas Clark, Kestral Press, Carmel Valley, CA, 1991). This 5,668-acre (22.94 km2) plot was known as “El Toro Rancho,” and passed through many hands before it settled in Mr. Walter S. Markham's hands. Mr. Markham bought the land with Castle rock on it in 1938 for $60,000 for 650 acres (2.6 km2). After Mr. and Mrs. Markham died, the land was given to their three daughters, Emily, Ann and Lillian, who then sold it to Jack Clifton, a man who would become one of the residents in the Markham Ranch Development (“Castlerock Times-A Publication for Markham Ranch Homeowners” Volume III, Issue 4, December 1997).


The park is located on State Route 35, just 2 1/2 miles (4 km) southeast of the junction with State Route 9. It is located almost entirely in Santa Cruz County.

Usage and Activities

Castle Rock State Park is suitable for many activities. There are two walk-in campgrounds for overnight hikers, many trails for day-hikes, rock climbing routes, and picnic areas.

External links



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