Weekend Hike: Goat Rock/Castle Rock Trail

All of the snow we experienced in Ottawa reminded us that we live in a region where it’s possible to be active outdoors almost 365 days a year, even when it’s “cold” (it rarely gets below freezing here – and even then, only early in the morning). I need to get better at biking to work (it’s a 15 minute bike ride along nice wide paved roads that aren’t too traffic-heavy), and we both need to get better at getting outside on the weekends.

That being said, our first weekend outing was on Saturday. We found an awesome website called AllTrails that has a whole database of hiking and cycling trails, and so we spent a few minutes browsing trails in our area and picked out this one: Castle Rock and Goat Rock Trail.

The trailhead was a bit of a drive, with a pay parking lot ($8) run by the state that operated on the honour system (yes, of course we paid… we’re Canadian!). It’s located south of Saratoga, which is south-west of San Jose proper. Nick didn’t mind driving, as the roads south and west of the San Jose area are all winding hilly roads, which he LOVES.

The trail was a lot of fun. On AllTrails it’s listed as a 5.6 mile loop, but we figure it was only about 4 miles. It’s possible that we missed part of the trail though, as there was a fork at one point that ended up leading us back to the beginning. We hiked for about 90 minutes through the woods and around hilltops, clambering over rocks and tree roots, and saying hello to other hikers.

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We even spent the last 20 minutes or so hiking and chatting with a fellow who had caught up to us when we stopped for a water break, and was maintaining the same pace that we were.

The weather was chilly, I’d guess about 45F or 5 to 8C, but we were warm once we got moving! I wore my Vibram Five Fingers shoes and at first regretted it because they weren’t doing a good job of insulating my feet against the cold weather and wet ground, but once my feet warmed up it was a LOT of fun to feel the ground under my feet and use my toes to help grip rocks and tree roots.

The views were spectacular:

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And there was even this creepy Halloween tree:2013-01-05 13.58.19 HDR

And a small waterfall (the waterfall is below the platform that I’m standing on, you’ll just have to use your imagination).2013-01-05 13.17.08 HDR

After we finished our hike, we drove to a little town in the hills called Boulder Creek. It’s an adorable little town with a fantastic brewpub on the main drag. We had a pint each and  shared a burger while reading eachother trivia questions from a box of cards on the table – a really fun end to a fantastic day.

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