Remembering Summer in Castle Crags State Park

A guest post BY Jennifer Snyder

Jennifer is a writer and travel enthusiast based in the Sacramento area of Northern California. She has recently given in to the insatiable urge to wander and loves to share photos and experiences over on her blog, People + Places + Things. Jennifer has also authored an app titled Northern California for Nature Lovers, which can be downloaded from the App Store here.

Northern California winters tend to come on quickly and bring winds, rain and yes – snow – to the region. When the days are damp and dreary, I like to look back and remind myself of fun, warm weather hikes.

For example, this past summer my husband and I decided to hike the Crags Trail at Castle Crags State Park. We visit the area every summer and it had been a few years since we had tackled the challenging trail.

1_Crags-ViewFull1We headed for the park early and reached the trailhead by about 8:30 a.m. After checking in at the ranger station, we took the short drive up to the parking lot that serves as the starting point for a few trails and the vista point.

3_Crags-Tree_LookingUp 2_Crags-TrailheadSignThe beginning of the trail can be quite cool since it’s mostly shaded, but once you hit the Crags, the sun can get pretty toasty. You’ll want to be back down in the shade before it gets too hot.

At the start of the hike, it’s easy to be fooled into thinking you’re on an easy nature walk. The trail looks a lot like this:

4_Crags-Trail1However, you’ll start to gain some elevation and notice the trail getting a bit rocky:

5_Crags-Trail2Eventually, the trail starts to look more like this:

6_Crags-Trail-Up2The reward? Views, views and more views:

7_Crags-Dome2 9_Crags-MtShastaView1 8_Crags-Dome_MtShastaOnce we made it to the trail end, we relaxed for a bit, had some snacks and snapped a few more pictures:

11_Crags-View1 12_Crags-CrookedTree1 10_Crags-Dome_TrailEndYou can also head up here:

13_Crags-Dome-ClimbThat’s the “trail” up the dome. I really don’t rock climb and I had no desire to start. My adventurous husband has climbed up to the top of the dome before and says the views are spectacular. According to the information sheet we received at the ranger station, it’s a 500-foot ascent meant for experienced rock climbers. Since I’m not experienced (at all), we decided to skip the dome and headed back down the trail.

It took us around 3 hours to finish the hike. The Crags Trail (not including the dome) is about 5 miles round-trip and is listed as strenuous. If you opt for the dome climb, bring gear, wear the right shoes and be careful!

My best tips for this hike are to start early, bring twice as much water as you think you’ll need and be sure to stop often to take in all that beauty.


Love State Parks? Say So!

There’s no better way to show your political support for something than to sit in the office of your local representative and tell them about it.

Seems a little intimidating perhaps? On the contrary. That’s why we coordinate our annual Park Advocacy Day. We schedule appointments for you, help you develop talking points, and put you in small groups with whom you can visit your representatives. But we need people like YOU to join us to make this day successful.


Picture yourself as a park advocate

That said, registration is now open for our 11th Annual Park Advocacy Day and we hope you will participate.

CSPF’s 11th Annual Park Advocacy Day
Sacramento, CA
Tuesday, March 12, 2013
8 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.

During Park Advocacy Day, over 100 park supporters will gather together in Sacramento to spend the day meeting with policymakers and advocating in support of state parks. These meetings have a lasting impact on legislators and staff as they make decisions on legislation and budget issues.

And the day is customized to YOU. You’ll have the opportunity to speak up for YOUR state parks with your very own representatives.  What’s not to like about that?

But you have to register soon to join in, as there are limited spots and registration closes Feb. 8.

If you have questions about Park Advocacy Day, please contact us at or call 916-442-2119.

Marvelous Mavericks

Tucked away between Half Moon Bay State Beach and Gray Whale Cove State Beach, and amazing event is taking place this weekend… Mavericks Invitational surf contest.


Photo (c) Julianne Bradford

The surf will be prime for this world-famous big wave contest taking place Sunday, January 20 at Pillar Point in Half Moon Bay. This is the first time in three years that the waves have been big enough to hold the contest, so excitement is high for this year’s showdown.

Although you can no longer watch the contest from the beach or bluffs for safety reasons, you can head down to the Mavericks Invitational Festival, an outdoor event to will be held on the grounds of the Oceano Hotel & Spa at Princeton Harbor, located on the road to Mavericks and across from Jeff Clark’s legendary Mavericks Surf Shop.

The contest and festival start at 8 a.m.. Traffic will surely be crazy and there will be no parking along Highway 1 or in the local neighborhoods. Consider parking at the Half Moon Bay Airport, which is within walking distance of the Festival.

If you can’t make it to Half Moon Bay, watch a free, live webcast at The fact that GoPro is sponsoring means there’s bound to be some awesome footage from the water.

May the best surfer win!

CSPF Says Goodbye to Huell Howser

It is with great sadness that we must say goodbye to Huell Howser. Huell was a great friend to California state parks and CSPF.  He brought enormous enthusiasm and skill to the telling of state parks’ stories.  Huell showed California’s state parks to millions of viewers, and we are grateful for his many years of support for our parks.

In addition to “California’s Gold,” Huell ran a series from 2002 to 2010 called “California’s Golden Parks,” which showcased different state parks each month. You can read more about the “California’s Golden Parks” episodes here: or watch them here:

Here’s an excerpt from a classic visit to Mono Lake Tufa State Natural Reserve:


We will all remember him with great fondness.

In 2013 I Will Volunteer in a California State Park


It’s a new year, which for many means a time to write a list of resolutions to improve ones self and become a better person. One of the noblest resolutions is to spend more time volunteering in the coming year.

Volunteering is usually a feel-good activity no matter where you spend your time. But we at the California State Parks Foundation think the most feel-good place to volunteer is in the great outdoors. You can’t beat the feeling of sun on your skin and ocean breeze in your hair while you help make the park you love more beautiful for other visitors like you.

So as part of your New Year’s resolution, consider adding “Volunteer in state parks” to the list. One great way to help is through our Park Champions Program. There will be plenty of work days throughout 2013 so be sure to check the calendar!

Happy New Year!