Yesterday the family went on a hike in Castle Rock State Park.

Castle Rock State Park
via flickr

Castle Rock’s about an hour south of our home, and is one of the many excellent parks on Skyline Ridge, the mountains that divide Silicon Valley from Santa Cruz, Half Moon Bay, and the Pacific coast.

Castle Rock State Park
via flickr

The kids have been getting into rock climbing recently (our local Y has a climbing wall equipped for top-roping), and I wanted them to have a chance to do a little outdoor climbing. Castle Rock is famous for having lots of very interesting sandstone formations that are weathered and great for climbing; they range from smaller rocks that are good for kids, to some very difficult technical climbs.

Castle Rock State Park
via flickr

There’s one outcropping in particular, at Goat Rock, that the kids found hard but not impossible, and offered a terrific view of the mountains– and a steep drop on the other side.

Castle Rock State Park
via flickr

One of the things I’m trying to teach the kids (particularly my self-described daredevil son) is that you need to respect the fact that while it’s fun, climbing can kill you if you don’t pay attention. Being smart about the risk is part of the challenge.

Castle Rock State Park
via flickr

There are two major trails in the park, Saratoga Gap and Ridge. Ridge leads to Goat Rock, and is a good steady climb from the parking lot. It has some beautiful sections, but I thought Saratoga Gap was even better: not only are the views spectacular, but the trail runs over a couple streams and rocks that the kids enjoyed scrambling over.

Castle Rock State Park
via flickr

Parts of the park look like something out of a Roger Dean album cover for Yes. I found that a little disorienting in a pleasant way.

Castle Rock State Park
via flickr

There’s a waterfall that’s supposed to be great during the rainy season; it was a bit anemic yesterday, but the observation deck beside it has a terrific view.

Castle Rock State Park
via flickr

[To the tune of Van Morrison, “And It Stoned Me,” from the album Live at the Fillmore West (April 26 1970) (a 4-star song, imo).]