Castle Rock State Park opened a new 33-acre entrance Thursday that is environmentally sensitive, accessible and features many new amenities, according to the Sempervirens Fund, a nonprofit that buys, protects and restores forests in the Santa Cruz Mountains.
The entrance is a result of a partnership between the Sempervirens Fund, California State Parks and Friends of Santa Cruz State Parks. Sempervirens Fund donors mostly funded the $8.7 million project.
The entrance includes fully accessible restrooms and pathways, a drinking water station, expanded parking, charging stations for electric cars, free Wi-Fi, a trail map app, picnic areas, a sculptural climbing structure for kids, an amphitheater and other spaces for educational programs and events.
According to the Sempervirens Fund, the new park entrance connects to several trails, including the Skyline-to-the-Sea Trail that runs for 31 miles from the ridgeline of the Santa Cruz Mountains to the coastline north of Santa Cruz.
The entrance also has environmentally friendly aspects such as solar power, permeable paving, features to capture storm water runoff and a state-of-the-art water treatment process.
Sara Barth, executive director for the Sempervirens Fund, said the entrance's 33 acres was originally a Christmas tree farm that the fund bought in 2011. In collaboration with the Amah Mutsun Land Trust and the Muwekma Ohlone tribe, the fund is also working to restore the former farm to its natural landscape with black oaks and other native plant species.
Barth said the Muwekma Ohlone tribe, who are historically from the area, has planted a garden at the entrance using plants that in the past have been used for cultural and medicinal purposes.
The greater Castle Rock State Park has 34 miles of trails, two camping areas with 26 campsites, redwood groves, vistas, sandstone rock formations and more.