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Take a Hike: Castle Rock, Saratoga Gap, & Ridge Trail

Located In:
Los Gatos (Castle Rock State Park).

10.9-mile loop.

Photo 2 by Elliott Sherwood


Difficulty Level:

Know Before You Go:
Grab a map or use your GPS to stay on the route, as there are many trail combinations to choose from (and options to shorten or extend the hike). Wear shoes with traction, bring layers and plenty of water, and keep our trails clean by practicing Leave No Trace principles.

Why We Love It:
The hike is well shaded, provides beautiful views of the Santa Cruz Mountains, and circles by one of my favorite bouldering spots in Castle Rock State Park.

Ramen Nagi photos by Jakob Laymen


Fuel Up:
In cool winter temps, few things hit the spot like a hot bowl of ramen. And at the world-renowned Ramen Nagi ( you’ll find perfect noodles and authentic yet cutting-edge flavors of broth. According to the restaurant’s ramen master chef and founder, Satoshi Ikuta: “Delicious food is a shared language.”

Photo 3 by Valerie Osmond


Bouldering in the Santa Cruz Mountains

Castle Rock is home to some of the Bay Area’s best bouldering: climbing on smaller rocks without the use of ropes. While bouldering is challenging, it offers a great way for novices to begin climbing, since it requires little equipment or knowledge to start. Don’t be fooled, however: The best climbers in the world will find a challenge that could take years to overcome.

Bouldering in Castle Rock is great, thanks to many well-established boulder “problems” or routes that people have developed. Here’s what you need:
  • Climbing shoes. This is literally the only real necessary piece of equipment. Make sure they fit snug, like a ballet slipper, without causing pain. Ask an expert to help size you.
  • Chalk bag + chalk. Chalk, like gymnasts use, is helpful to keep your hands dry and retain maximum friction (which you’ll need on the smooth sandstone at Castle Rock).
  • Crash pad. A crash pad is a portable foam pad that allows you to level (and soften) the area below you to avoid injury when you fall (which you will).
Speaking of falling, learning the proper falling technique is key to staying injury free; climbing with a second person to help “spot” you will ensure you don’t fall incorrectly and seriously injury yourself.

If you’re interested, download the app “Mountain Project” and look up the area. This will provide you with maps and information on the boulders. If you’re a beginner, stick to V0-V1 routes.
For more information, visit

by Ryan Martinez
Photo 1 courtesy of Cindy Vo @cindyvoyages; taken by Ryan Coquilla @little_king_anthony. Photo 2 by Elliott Sherwood. Photo 3 by Valerie Osmond. Photos 4 & 6 by Brittany Xiao. Photo 5 by George P. Surmaitis. Ramen Nagi photos by Jakob Laymen.