Castaic Lake is an interesting park. The lands are owned by State Parks, the recreational elements are run by Los Angeles County Parks... more » and Rec., and the site is part of the State Water Project.
The place is a power boater's mecca! It's well known for fishing and as a place to go for summer BBQ's on the lake's two shorelines. That being said, this place can get busy!
Starting at the West Launch Ramp facility is an opportunity to escape all that does exist on the upper lake. The trail system tucked into the hills overlooking the lake's western shore winds its way along ridge-lines and into the gullies back there.
These trails are primarily the home of local equestrian, mountain bikers, and individuals training for the Iron Man competition. For hikers and trail walkers they represent a chance to get away from the crowds down at the lake.
The good and the bad?
It's a great place for a workout and some of the scenery is pretty nice. There's also a few spots back there where nearly all signs of civilization vanish.
The only area that really needs improvement is trail signage. If you're not familiar with the area, bring an air photo showing the roads and trails. The available park maps are somewhat inadequate. I went in with the map, no air photo, plus a local verbal description of the route, and got turned around.
Getting turned around isn't much of an issue as the trails will get you to a park road if you keep traveling downhill. The problem I saw was:
There are signs put up by the equestrian community.
There are some signs put up by the park.
There's lots of trail junctions with no signage.
None of the above are well addressed by the park's schematic style trail mapping; they don't share common naming; a lot of the trail junctions simply aren't marked; and a lot of the trails and roads are simply missing from the maps.
Again, getting lost isn't much of an issue but being prepared is! We hit the trail ready for hot weather with plenty of water - about twice what we expected to need for 100 degree weather. Then we started making wrong turns, backtracking, and following hunches. We ran out of water about 2/3 of the way through with the thermometer breaking 105 degrees.
My hat's off to the guys who train here! They're not technically difficult trails but anyone running or biking them needs to be in great shape. less «