Bubba Suess wrote:
Not to beat the horse into the sand but I am at least partially against a private concessionaire running the park. I applaud the efforts to keep it open and I think that in many other parks' cases it is a great solution. With the Castle Crags, it does not serve the long term problem, a problem there would be little motivation to solve if not for the current budgetary closures.
The bottom line is that the park actually DOES nothing except offer a campground. The only other draw are the trails and therein lies the problem with the park. All the trails save one do nothing but provide access to Forest Service land. None of them except the Sacramento Trail (a really cool trail if y'all have not been on it) go anywhere in the park. Rather, they all head into the Shasta-T. Consequently, the state park is nothing but a large tollbooth one must pay to get to land one does not have to pay for. It is a scam. Check out this map:
I think an ideal solution would be for the State Park to lease itself to the Forest Service for half the annual take the campground brings in. That way the State Park is making a little money and the Forest Service can make a small profit. All they have to do is maintain the campground. The benefit would be an appropriately free trail to Castle Dome.
A couple other, utterly tangential benefits would come from doing this. First, those with dogs on the PCT would be able to bring them on the trail through what was the state park. Secondly, and this is just an idea I have been mulling over, the Forest Services assumption of control of the state park would simplify a rerouting of the PCT to connect with the Sacramento River Trail. This would eliminate the PCT's crossing of the river on a road, crossing instead on a cool footbridge. It would also add a mile or so of easy but really scenic hiking along the Sacramento rather than passing through dense forest cover. Here is my proposed route, if anyone cares:
The current route of the PCT is red. My amended route is marked in blue.
Bubba, that all looks great ! I can clearly envision what you suggest after poking around the area this past December under a seasonal closure (all prior visits were moslty just hikes to Castle Dome taking the standard route). I am aware of the issues for dayhikers, PCT hikers, and dog owners. So are these suggestions mostly for fun, or will they make it to somewhere beyond SP? I suspect you could find support for that proposal in your area, on SP, and elsewhere.
Unfortunately, information I have read in the media casts some doubt on the park turning a profit (sounds like it has been a money loser) and thereby on any suggestions that would lessen income potential. While my dad has said he likes the campground, I find it frustrating that folks like myself (who aren't interested in any services besides some very limited trail/road maintenance) will be restricted by a closure, the ongoing situation you have described, or the continuance of the same system under new management. It would be nice if those who wish to use the PCT, NF, wilderness, and trails beyond the general campground area did not need to be tied to those using the more civilized amenities near the freeway exit. I wish the NF could take on the campground more cheaply than the state or at least take over responsibility for the areas away from the campground, but I suspect it is more likely that a private group will run the campground and state land with higher fees and lower wages/more volunteers. The development of the area in and around the campground will be costly to maintain. Maybe whoever runs the campground (aside from the NF option you describe) won't be interested in managing/patrolling the outlying areas. Maybe mangement won't be opposed to PCT hikers with dogs taking the normal route instead of the detour....OR is part of managing the park maintaining funding of current law enforcement? Hopefully fees and restrictions for accessing areas away from the campground will be eliminated, reduced, or at least stay the same rather than increase. An interested group might need to be vocal and might need to volunteer ongoing support/work.
Anyway, I just saw an article describing development of a vision for the park and competing private entities interested in managing the park. Unfortunately, quotes beyond providing campgrounds were vague. The head of the non-profit (focus of the previous article) even participated in the online commentary below this article:http://www.redding.com/news/2012/mar/29/groups-line-up-for-castle-crags/