NW Trailhead to Small Saratoga Gap & Ridge Trail Loop

In the paid parking lot, travel down the trail that begins at the Northwest edge – it has a placard and sign near it, and is wider and appears flatter than the South Trailhead. The path begins smooth and relatively wide, running towards and sometimes alongside King Creek. In about 0.2 miles, the trail meets Castle Rock Trail (a short but somewhat steep trail up to Castle Rock, which you may have just left, if you did the aforementioned hike). Veer right to continue on the wide, smooth trail you were on. You will cross the creek in about 0.5 miles. At this point, the trail splits – left to follow Saratoga Gap Trail or right to follow Ridge Trail. Follow the left turn to Saratoga Gap Trail. The trail eventually gets too narrow, steep, and contains hazards like boulders, roots, or ruts for a stroller. If you are using a baby carrier or backpack, use your walking sticks or get help from a buddy past these obstacles, but use caution. Castle Rock Falls is 0.3 miles away and has a nice viewing platform from which you can see the falls. (Note: Hold onto baby here – the platform is not safe for roaming babies!) 

Continue past the falls until just below Varian Peak, where there is a trail junction. At the junction, turn right to begin returning back to the parking lot – you are now on Ridge Trail.  You will now be hiking AWAY FROM the camping area.  Ridge Trail passes an interpretive center with signs, which feels odd so far from the parking lot, but makes a nice rest spot.  Nearby, you’ll pass Goat Rock and plenty of climbing if the weather is good.  Continue on Ridge Trail, following signposts to the parking lot.

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