Sanborn-Skyline Trails to Castle Rock State Park – This out-and-back trail climbs from Sanborn County Park to the ridge just below Skyline Road and then follows the Skyline Trail paralleling Skyline Road to the entrance to Castle Rock State Park, from which it is a short .3 mile walk to Castle Rock.
Description – As I write this (March 14, 2004) I have not hiked this trail often enough to have all of the details fixed in my mind. I used to hike it occasionally when I was younger – in fact I used to run it! However, today was the first time I have hiked it in several years, with the exception of a descent in poor weather perhaps 5-6 years ago. So, pardon the sketchy details.
The trail starts in the parking lot at Sanborn Park (parking fee $4 as of this writing). Head up across the nice lawn past picnics and family parties and ascend the somewhat steep one-lane paved road past the campground. Above the campground the road turns to dirt, crosses a small creek and starts an S-turn to the right. After a short distance you reach the upper curve of the “S” as the road turns back to the left, still ascending. Eventually the road ends at a turn around loop and the trail departs to the left, still ascending. (“Ascending” is pretty much the rule on this trail with only a few brief level or slightly descending sections.) As the trail continues uphill it enters thicker forest, eventually becoming thoroughly covered by trees – a real advantage on this difficult uphill hike, especially in warm weather. The trail passed though a section of redwood forest, including some very old stumps as it follows a creek. Above this the forest cover begins to thin a bit and before long you reach the junction with the Skyline Trail. Turn right and soon reach a set of wooden stairs on the left that rises to Skyline Road. Do not take the stairs; instead keep to the right as the trail mostly contours along below the road on the shady side of the ridge. Eventually the trail comes to the road at the junction with the short side trail to Indian Rock. Cross the road and continue a short distance to the right to reach the entrance to Castle Rock State Park. From the parking lot a short trail (.3 miles) ascends to Castle Rock. To return, reverse your steps. Total distances is about 8.5 miles round trip.
Highlights – This trail has several special attractions.
- This is a great training hike for those working to develop trail climbing skills. The ascent to the Skyline Trail is virtually continuous, with several rather steep sections.
- The trail passes through a beautiful (although once-logged) bit of redwood forest.
- Castle Rock State Park is a worthy goal and adventurous hikers can make very long hikes by including hikes inside this park, such as Goat Rock or even the campground a bit more than three miles from the park entrance. Very aggressive hikers could put together a Sanborn to the Sea Hike.
- After the first part of the hike, the fact that the trail is basically on the shady side of the mountain range and the prevalence of forest cover could make this a good hot-weather climb.
Downsides – There really aren’t too many.
- Well, it is steep – but I regard that as an advantage.
- The last section on the Skyline Trail parallels Skyline Road, so you will hear traffic.
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