We enjoyed another idyllic day of hiking and playing, this time at Castle Rock State Park, which is quite a drive for us, but well worth it. It is near the city of Saratoga, which is on the west side of Palo Alto and Los Altos, but a little easier to get to, since we don’t need to drive 9 winding miles on Page Mill Road to reach Skyline Road. We even saw an old pickup truck on fire on the way up (there were several cars stopped to help, so we kept going), which Luke missed, unfortunately, since I had traded kids with Christa, and taken Conner and Illahe with us and left Luke with her and Martin. We met two other families (Lisa and her daughter, and Jennifer and her daughter), and for once, the girls out-numbered the boys!
If you research Castle Rock on some the Bay Area hiking pages, there are dire warnings about the difficulty of the trail, not so much in regard to the elevation change (or how hilly it is), but more in regard to the narrowness of the trail next to cliffs and huge boulders. I even warned people in advance, and changed our planned hike in order to avoid the worst of the trail, which involved using a wire handhold to get you past the worst (extremely narrow trail on a boulder). On actually hiking the trails, however, it struck me that the boys and I have done quite a few hikes that are about the same diffculty and even worse. The trails did have rocks to climb, trees and roots growing all over the place, and some narrow trails, but nothing to be worried about. We did turn back before the wire handhold, but the rest of the hike was fine.
Having Luke with Christa and Martin was a good thing, though, carrying him in my backpack would have been tough. We stopped on the way back and let the kids play in the creek before heading on, which was probably the highlight for the boys until we reached the true highlight of Castle Rock: an area pretty close to the parking lot (1/4 mile) with tons of huge rocks and boulders (we even saw a few rock climbers), absolutely perfect for pretending castles and knights, or whatever your heart desired. There is a rock formation which resembles a real castle (hence the name of the park), but the whole area was so much fun the boys and Illahe (the other two families had to leave).