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.

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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 advocacy@calparks.org or call 916-442-2119.