Before my first time in California, I thought this state was all about surfing and beaches, because that was the only thing I saw in movies. Luckily that’s not the case; California is surrounded by tons of beautiful mountains and natural reserves for great Hiking and Rock/Tree climbing fun.
Santa Cruz is one of the areas with many famous hikes such as Big Baisin with its huge Redwood trees and Castle Rock; a gigantic rock on the top of the mountain that you can rock climb, as always everything is huge in America 😉
Castle rock is a hiking area for all types; families, backpackers and professional hikers. Here you can choose between a 0.3mile long hike up to the famous Castle Rock for some Rock climbing or if you’re really up for a hike there is a 30-mile trail down to the beach with several camping stations on the way.
You can also do your own route as we did; Start by hiking up to Castle Rock, bring rock climbing gear and explore this gigantic rock. After spending some time at the top, head down to the Saratoga trail but just until you can cross the water and then hike up the second mountain to Goat Rock.. When reaching the top you will find an amazing view of the mountains and the ocean. If you’re lucky you will also see a couple of eagles flying by!
What to think about: When hiking up to the top, bring tons of water! I would suggest only doing this hike when it’s not very hot out, since it is extremely hot when hiking along the face of Goat Rock. I think the temperature rose 15 degrees on that part of the mountain.
Big Basin is known for its gigantic redwood trees, which makes the trails nice and cool on a hot and sunny day. The park has over 80 miles of trails with some of them linking to Castle Rock. The park also offers a wide range of waterfalls, bird life and amazing views of the ocean. View the different trail options here.
I wasn’t sure I wanted to share this with everyone but since it’s such a cool place I couldn’t keep it to myself. Off the road by some caves you will find a 25m high tree house that’s hand made by some University of Santa Cruz students. The only way to get up is by climbing the redwood branches.
Both Jake and me have done bungy jumping and skydiving but to be honest climbing this tree did tickle a bit in my feet when I was 25 meters up and looking down.
On the top you will find a small platform that can take around 10 people, a swing and a bench. If you dare you can climb up about 5 meter higher and you will find a cargo net to hang in. Unfortunately I was too scared but Jake and his brother made it up there.
The view from this tree house is amazing and you will even be able to spot the beach from here.