Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park hiking trails

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Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park is a fabulous grove of redwood trees complete with several hiking trails to enjoy. Many of the trails are dog friendly or horse friendly too! The many trails are connected, which allows you to hike all day for miles, or to enjoy a short, half-mile hike with small children. Whichever type of hike you are looking for, you will find it Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park!

We recently went to Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park in Felton with my daughter’s Girl Scout troop. The weather was perfect, and it was partially overcast, which gave us ideal hiking conditions. What I thought would be a two hour hike, turned into a 5 mile, all morning adventure! The girls are in middle school, so now that they are older, they can last longer on hikes. They enjoyed going on the moderate trails, and making it up to the Cathedral Redwoods circle of coast redwood trees. There were a few benches there, which made it ideal for snacking and drinking water.

The hiking trails at Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park are well maintained and quite clean. It was easy to avoid poison oak, and there was plenty of room for people to pass each other. There are many old growth redwoods, some which might have been two hundred years old! When Lt. John  C. Fremont was surveying the area in 1846, he camped in the area, and as a result, had an old growth tree, which is presumed to have been there when he was, named after him!

fremont tree henry cowell state park

There is a grove of old growth redwoods, named the Redwood Grove Loop Trail,  right by the visitor center, which offers an educational walk through elder trees. Oh the stories they could tell! This is a flat area, so if you have a stroller, or really small children, this grove is perfect! You can also catch a glimpse of the trains from Roaring Camp when they pass by. Your train-loving children will love that!

Visit like a local

I may sound like a broken record, but the early bird catches the worm! Try to arrive to Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park before 9am; especially during the peak summer season, and on weekends. If you arrive later in the day, you might have to park outside the park and end up hiking a mile just to get to the trails! Well, that’s no fun! Visit like a local, and arrive early.

The parking lot is $10, and very safe and well-maintained. In addition to hiking, you can walk over to Roaring Camp and ride a train, go camping, swim in the Garden of Eden, and/or attend a special event. This is a great park to visit again, and again! Without traffic, it is roughly 40 minutes from San Jose. It is located at 101 Big Trees Park Road in Felton, California.

You can learn more about the park online here. For a list of hiking trails, you can find one here.

If you’re local, where are your favorite hikes in the Santa Cruz area? If you’re not local, be sure to add Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park to your itinerary when you visit the San Francisco Bay Area! It’s close to the Santa Cruz beach!

Thanks for stopping by!


old growth redwood trees

Castle Rock State Park hiking trails: Castle Rock Falls

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my daughter’s outfit: blue sweatshirt / black track pants / black/white sneakers /

Castle Rock State Park is a really popular outdoor destination here in the South Bay. The park features several hiking trails, rare rock formations, camping, beach access (if you are willing to hike for it), and beautiful yet petite waterfalls. It is a favorite day trip for locals here in the San Francisco Bay Area!

There are several hiking trails in Castle Rock State Rock. The one I believe is the most beautiful, is the Castle Rock Falls trail. This roughly one mile trail, offers fun for the whole family. It’s an easy-to-medium hike, which features fun rock formations; kids enjoy climbing the rocks along the trail. Near the end of the trail, there is an overlook where you can see a beautiful waterfall. It isn’t a huge waterfall like Niagara Falls, but it is petite, fast-moving, and really pretty. The kids love it!

The end of the trail also offers beautiful views of the Santa Cruz Mountains and valley. We took my daughter’s girl scout troop on a family hike to Castle Rock Falls a week ago, and it was so much fun! The girls enjoyed the hike and loved climbing on all the rocks. Since they are middle-school age, the top of the rocks turned into fun photo opportunities. (Of course we always keep photos opps safe! You won’t find these girls on the news for trying to get an Insta photo at the expense of safety. These are trained girl scouts who know safety comes first!) But, I digress. . .

If you are looking for a beautiful trail the entire family can enjoy, Castle Rock State Park is a great place to go! There are several trails to choose from, but I highly recommend hiking the Castle Rock Falls trails to see the beautiful waterfall, and enjoy the fun rock formations along the way. Your kids will love it! I mean, kids love climbing on rocks, so of course they will have fun!

When you visit, there is a parking lot which is $10. At the end of the parking lot, there are bathrooms. There are also pamphlets available with maps and information about Castle Rock State Park. The pamphlets will give you information about all the trails in the park.

saratoga gap trail

If you are looking for free parking, you can park nose first along highway 35 right after the parking lot entry-way. If you arrive after 9am, and the close parking is already taken, you can  drive a mile down highway 35 and there is a free overflow parking lot. I highly recommend, no matter the time of year, to arrive around 8am in order to park where you want to park, and enjoy the trails without the crazy crowds.

Visit Castle Rock State Park like a local!

In addition to arriving at 8am, go in the off-season. The weekends during the summer are way over-crowded. I recommend going during the week if you want to visit during the summer months. Otherwise, the best time to go is during the fall, winter, or spring seasons.

Castle Rock State Park is located at 15000 Skyline Blvd, Los Gatos, CA 95033; which is highway CA 35.

Have you been to Castle Rock State Park? Which trail is your favorite?

Thanks for stopping by!



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Family hike with PARA’KITO

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My family and I love to go hiking. It is such a fabulous way to explore nature, and sometimes, local history! In fact, we love being outdoors. All of my kids are in scouting, so they love to camp, hike, and just be outside. The one thing that drives me crazy about being outside, is that I get eaten alive by mosquitoes! It’s not just me, my kids do too!

We have tried everything to make our outdoor play-time comfortable; and mosquito bite free. Candles don’t seem to chase them away at outdoor mealtimes, and spraying on mosquito repellant is, well, quite repelling! Ew. I can’t stand the stickiness, the smell, and the need to shower as soon as I get home. Spray-on repellant always leaves me with dirt stuck to my skin too. It’s just gross. My kids feel the same way; I’m not alone in this thinking! That’s why I am so thankful for PARA’KITO!

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We recently explored a local hiking trail which showcases Saratoga’s quarry history. There were a few remaining artifacts from the quarry along the trail which made for some fun education for my kids. The trail is named the “Saratoga Quarry Park” and it also offers picnic tables, and a beach volleyball court. The views of the valley foothills is picturesque; and you can even see some small vineyards along the way!

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There is also a pond along the trail, and the Saratoga Creek runs through the parking area. Of course, where there is water, there are mosquitoes! So glad we were all wearing our PARA’KITO bracelets! They kept us bite free, and after the hike we were able to hop in the car and go out to lunch without worrying about stinking like mosquito repellant; or having dirt stuck on our arms!

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Thanks for stopping by!


*sponsored by PARA’KITO, all thoughts and opinions are my own

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