Pets allowed
Allowed with Restrictions
Elevation Gain
1,000.00 ft (304.80 m)
Trail type
There-and-back
Distance
5.50 mi (8.85 km)
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Castle Rock is a unique hike in the San Francisco East Bay region. The rock formations located in Pine Canyon are a historical nesting site of the American peregrine falcon dating back to the 1800s, and dozens of falcons are often seen from the trail. These birds were once endangered and had entirely disappeared by the 1950s from this area. For a period of time, they were only bred in captivity. However, due to the ban of the pesticide DDT, a chemical that thins eggshells, they have been successfully reintroduced into the region.

Castle Rock Trail begins at the Orchard Staging Area in Castle Rock Regional Recreation Area. The first stretch of the trek is fairly easy as follows a wide dirt path with little elevation change. Here the trail passes through meadows and peaceful groves where there are drinking fountains and shaded picnic tables. In about a mile, the route merges with Stage Road Trail and arrives at Diablo Foothills Regional Park, where it begins to climb forested hills while following Pine Creek. You may catch an occasional glimpse through the foliage of the rocky cliffs of Pine Canyon, where peregrine falcons nest. Turn left onto Sunset Trail, which scales a moderately steep hill and enters the boundaries Mount Diablo State Park, and then turn left again onto Castle Rock Trail. This portion of the hike traverses a ridge overlooking the Pine Canyon cliffs and a couple of nests are visible from the trail. The falcons are very territorial, and dozens can often be seen soaring over the area. The trail passes through tall grass and then abruptly ends at a barbed wire fence.

Please note: All portions of Sunset Trail and Castle Rock Trail are closed annually from February 1 to July 31 to protect the peregrine falcons during their nesting season.

Logistics + Planning

Preferable season(s)

Winter
Spring
Fall

Congestion

Low

Parking Pass

None

Open Year-round

Yes

Pros

Peregrine falcons. Great views.

Cons

Poison oak near trail.

Trailhead Elevation

440.00 ft (134.11 m)

Highest point

960.00 ft (292.61 m)

Features

Wildflowers
Big vistas
Bird watching

Typically multi-day

No

Permit required

No

Location

Field Guide

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