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Castle Rock State Park

Sweeping Mountain Vistas in a
Newly Modern State Park

Castle Rock State Park is best-known for its sandstone crest rising 80-feet above one of the Santa Cruz mountains’ highest ridges. Near Los Gatos, Castle Rock gives visitors 34-miles of trails through more than 5,300 acres of high-elevation coast redwood and California black oak forests, scenic vistas, and sculpted sandstone formations. Those 5,300 acres might not be open to the public today without Sempervirens Fund supporters who have continued to advocate for and expand Castle Rock State Park since first helping to establish the park in 1968.

Since then, Sempervirens Fund supporters have helped to grow the park and connect it to nearby protected lands to benefit both wildlife and opportunities for people to enjoy Silicon Valley’s closest state park. Castle Rock State Park is also the beginning of the region’s most expansive trail system, the Skyline-to-the-Sea Trail, which links to Big Basin Redwoods State Park and the Pacific Ocean, ensuring intact wildlife corridors and exceptional regional wilderness experiences. In 2019, Sempervirens Fund opened the state-of-the-art Robert C. Kirkwood entrance near Saratoga Gap, in partnership with California State Parks and Friends of Santa Cruz State Parks. In 2023, Sempervirens Fund transferred six protected properties including the Robert C. Kirkwood Entrance, Sempervirens 236, Castle Rock West, and the Saratoga Toll Road Properties to Castle Rock State Park to bolster the park’s important habitats and expand its trails and recreational experiences for all to enjoy.

Continuing Conservation for Castle Rock

Since first helping to establish Castle Rock State Park in 1968, realizing the vision of Dr. Russell Varian, a pioneer of x-ray and radar technology, Sempervirens Fund supporters have expanded the park, purchasing 36 properties and protecting more than 4,000 acres. In recent years, and in response to fears that Castle Rock State Park might close, Sempervirens Fund stepped in, guiding Castle Rock into a new era, planning and funding top-notch facilities and a sustainable funding model at the Robert C. Kirkwood entrance. In 2023, the Robert C. Kirkwood entrance and five more protected properties were officially added to Castle Rock State Park. Today, we continue to protect priority land, like Castle Rock Hollow, to help expand the park for people and wildlife to enjoy for generations to come.

Larger connected areas of protected lands provide greater recreational opportunities as well as healthier habitats ensuring wildlife have what they need to survive and thrive. Adding these properties to Castle Rock State Park ensures that they both continue to be well-managed for conservation and resiliency—augmenting California’s 30x30 and climate, wildfire, and community resiliency goals—and formally expand the park’s incredible recreational experiences into new lands, habitats, and vistas. Here are some of the most recent lands that Sempervirens Fund supporters have protected forever and added to Castle Rock State Park:

Castle Rock State Park Vista by David Royal
Castle Rock State Park Vista by David Royal

Panorama Ridge

Panorama Ridge is 40-acres of spectacular ridge-top views of Monterey Bay, Big Basin Redwoods State Park, and the Pacific Ocean. Sempervirens Fund and the owner protected the land in 2005 with a special life-estate agreement to allow the owner to continue living in his home on a 5-acre portion of the property that is off limits to park visitors while sharing its beauty with the public. Thanks to this partnership, people and wildlife will continue to enjoy this breathtaking place in Castle Rock State Park.

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