Sanborn-Castle Rock-Saratoga Gap Loop

Another fantastic run in the Santa Cruz Mountains covering lots of ground in four parks – Sanborn County Park, Castle Rock State Park, Saratoga Gap Open Space, and Long Ridge Open Space. This 23-23.5 mile loop took the base 12-12.5 mile loop I scoped out last time and made some great additions.

The first addition was a ~7.2 mile lollipop addition in Sanborn County Park. This extension was basically all downhill descending to the base of Sanborn Park and the Historic Sanborn Hostel via the Sanborn Trail/Peterson Trail and then uphill via the San Andreas Trail. The San Andreas Trail is a nice hill climb with many switchbacks making the 1,600 foot climb back to Skyline reasonable. The lower portion of the San Andreas trail is redwood forest transitioning to madrone forest and then redwoods again near the top in the Todd Creek Redwoods. There are a few mid-sized redwoods at the Todd Creek redwoods, but predominantly second growth open forest.

The section I had run before was fantastic again. The views from atop Goat Rock are awesome and the Ridge Trail is one of my favorite streches of single track descending into the most impressive madrone forests I have seen. The Saratoga Toll Road Trail is a perfectly graded gradual hill back up to Saratoga Gap.

The second addition is a 4 mile loop along the Achistaca Trail to the Hickory Oaks parking area returning along the Saratoga Gap trail. The Achistaca is a gorgeous trail with beautiful forest, giant oak trees, and sweeping meadow views. Along the way I saw a flock of at least a dozen wild turkeys in the high grass!

Redwoods at Sanborn Park
Redwoods at Sanborn Park

Todd Creek Redwoods at Sanborn Park
Todd Creek Redwoods at Sanborn Park
Annoated view from Goat Rock
Annotated view from Goat Rock
Madrone forest at Castle Rock SP
Madrone forest at Castle Rock SP
Sweet single track on the Ridge Trail
Sweet single track on the Ridge Trail in Castle Rock SP
View of San Lorenzo River Valley
View of the San Lorenzo River Valley
Gorgeous madrones
Gorgeous madrone forest
View to Goat Rock
View to Goat Rock, Castle Rock SP
Giant oak tree on the Achistaca Trail
Giant oak tree on the Achistaca Trail
Achistaca Trail views
Achistaca Trail views
Wild turkeys!
Wild turkeys!
Happy Thanksgiving!
Happy Thanksgiving!
Butano Ridge from Achistaca Trail
Butano Ridge from Achistaca Trail

Route Itinerary (23-23.5 miles):

  • Start at Saratoga Gap
  • Skyline Trail
  • Sanborn Trail
  • Peterson Trail
  • San Andreas Trail
  • Sanborn Trail
  • Skyline Trail
  • Saratoga Gap Trail
  • Goat Rock Trail
  • Ridge Trail
  • Saratoga Gap Trail (trail camp)
  • Frog Flat Trail
  • Saratoga Gap Trail
  • Travertine Springs Trail
  • Saratoga Toll Road Trail
  • Achistaca Trail
  • Hickory Oaks Trail
  • Saratoga Gap Trail
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