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Castle Peak Trail

HARD 281 reviews
#6 of 188 trails in

Castle Peak Trail is a 6 mile heavily trafficked out and back trail located near Soda Springs, California that features beautiful wild flowers and is rated as difficult. The trail offers a number of activity options and is best used from May until October. Dogs are also able to use this trail but must be kept on leash.

DISTANCE
6.0 miles
ELEVATION GAIN
1,811 feet
ROUTE TYPE
Out & Back

dogs on leash

cross country skiing

hiking

nature trips

snowshoeing

walking

forest

views

wild flowers

wildlife

rocky

scramble

snow

One of the easiest peaks (9100') to hike in the Tahoe area and is doable as a day hike from the Bay Area. As you approach Donner Pass from the west on I-80, you can't miss Castle Peak on the left. To get to the trailhead, take the Boreal exit (between Soda Springs and Donner Lake.) From the Boreal parking lot go under the freeway and follow the road up to the right and find a place to park. If you have a 4WD with high clearance, you could follow the dirt road and shorten the hike by a mile or two. Start the hike by following the dirt road. In a mile and half the trail will start to climb and you'll reach a junction at Castle Pass. The PCT crosses this junction. Turn right and follow the ridgeline up to Castle Peak. From the ridgeline you look to your left (north) and see a beautiful green valley and ahead and to the right you can see your destination. Simply follow the well defined trail to the top. The climb gets quite steep (1300' gain, mostly in the last 2 miles) and hiking poles can be useful. If you have the time, you can also hike over to Andesite Peak or Basin Peak.

12 days ago

Amazing spot, fantastic view! Very slippery rocks toward the top and often times it can be a bit gusty. Other than that it’s such a cool adventure hike!

24 days ago

Not a loop trail. Out and back. The trail gets steep with a lot of loose rock making the climb a bit technical. Otherwise, it was a great workout and provided a fantastic view!

1 month ago

great views from the top i only came back once but been thete serval times taking different longer rounts

hiking
1 month ago

this Trail is pretty much all uphill with a few breaks and not any switchbacks and is out and back ...completed this hike not very many stops in about 3. my recommendation is to bring good traction shoes with trekking poles especially going back down if you reach the top of Castle Peak. A lot of loose Rock. I would definitely go again but with someone who was more adventurous and would be willing to stop to take some pictures. stunning views but be ready for sudden changes in weather especially going in October/ November

hiking
1 month ago

got this one knocked out right as it started to snow on November 21. I wish I had known that you are able to drive in the first 1.5 or so miles past the gate. Also checked out Andesite Peak on the way back.

3 months ago

2nd time around..get up there to see a fire at around donner lake or hwy 89 yesterday..makes u realize hikers vulnerabilities..great views and great scramble up once you get up past first turret..not a trekking pole hiker but they may come into play on way down..

3 months ago

Quite windy today, but beautiful skies and miles and miles of visibility. Trail is in good condition, although a bit loose going up the last 3/4 mile (all walkable if careful)

3 months ago

This hike has great views. It's pretty moderate until the last mile, then it's steep. Bring poles, it can be pretty slippery. Lots of loose gravel and sand.

backpacking
3 months ago

I've done this as a snowshoe day hike in the winter, an overnight backpacking with snowshoes in the winter, and a spring/summer hike. All times have been great with different experiences! One of my favorite go-to's when I need a quick hike that I'm familiar with and won't get lost.

3 months ago

Fun little hike before the snows return. If actually trying to bag the true summit keep in mind it’s the easternmost crag. Def a bit of exposed class 3 climbing to get up top but we still managed to get up in a little under two hours.

4 months ago

Great hike with amazing views! Going down was a little tough/slippery... bring gloves!

hiking
4 months ago

I have done castle Peak at least 5 times. I have completely circled it and spent a night at Warren lake. I have also done Andesite and Basin Peaks.This is an amazing area. It is loose and steep up the final ridge. Bring poles. Also you can park closer if you have a high clearance vehicle. We mad a video of our last ascent it can be found on YouTube at Chris and Bobs adventure channel https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cpJF3zCamY0

4 months ago

Great day hike. Poles would've been a smart idea since it is rocky and slippery in spots. Beautiful views ❤️

absolutely beautiful

4 months ago

Lower section is open to high clearance vehicles in summer. Suggest taking Pacific Crest Trail to the junction near Castle Ridge. Also note short extension on PCT to Peter Grubb Hut at Round Meadow.

hiking
4 months ago

THE TRAIL STOPS AT THE TOP! My friend and I reached the top from the South and spread out looking for a pass. We found nothing but steep rocky drops and cliffs. We picked it up a notch by making our own trail down to the valley and summited again from the North side.

It was a great hike with great views. But note that this map is not correct.

4 months ago

I love scrambles and steep hikes but the trail was so slippery it wasn’t fun. Constantly trying not to fall. The views were pretty good but there are certainly much better hikes in the area

4 months ago

It was gorgeous and well worth it. We never found one trail sign though and asked other hikers along the way. There are several other trails to other destinations so it is too bad it has no signage. The only one we saw was the PCT marker.

4 months ago

Great hike 8/23/18. Two 60+ year old women did the hike no problem. Not as rocky or slippery despite my fears after reading some of the reviews. That being said, I left my dogs (2 Border Collies) at home. Would not recommend bringing a dog. Hard on their feet and they could literally fall off a cliff if you’re going to the very tippy top. Plus it’s very sun exposed. Made it all the way up to the top Castle Peak and then continued on the the ridge over to Basin Peak and back down on the PCT past Peter Grub Hut (very interesting). Total miles probably close to 9.5. Unfortunately my phone died toward the end of recording the hike. Would do this again. Incredible views.

5 months ago

There is no trail at top where there is a lot of exposure. We turned back and did not do the loop. It is a much longer hike that way.

hiking
6 months ago

Great hike with amazing views.

Things to know: Take bug spray. You’ll be happy to have it in the first mile or so, before you get into fast elevation grades. Obviously, you need
water, glasses, and suntan lotion. I don’t like poles, but I’d think most people do.

The hike is 3.0-3.1 miles to the top. After the first 1.5 miles it gets much steeper with incline grades of 30-60 percent. Those don’t relent for almost the entire way to the top. At the top you have to do some very minor rock climbing to get to the top. Amazing views and feeling of accomplishment.

For those who are in very good shape it’s probably not that big of a deal. For the weekend warrior it’s a great workout but it’s not going to be easy, but you can do it!

Also, anyone who takes a 4 year old on this trail is irresponsible in my opinion. It’s way too steep to think taking a small child on the last mile
of this trial is a good idea.

6 months ago

Amazing hike! Starts off fairly mundane...but then steps it up and is very challenging but worth the pay off at the end!

6 months ago

Beautiful, challenging trail. Dangerous in one part.

I recommend starting this like Frog Lake Overlook Trail. Ie — Pick up the PCT at the campground on the south side of hwy 80 at the castle peak exit (bunny hill drive). Follow this under the 80 and pick up the summit lake trail. This first section is VERY picturesque — a nice start to the hike. And the entire hike to Frog Lake overlook is superb. God trail, good coverage, great views. Frog lake overlook is quite breathtaking.

Then you traverse to Castle Peak. Pretty easy even though the trail is NOT moderately trafficked. Hard to follow in many places — but the ridge-line is there as a guide and the terrain is easy going.

BUT THEN you hit the big rocky step that goes up to castle peak where the three towers are — and the trail disappeared for me. This area is DANGEROUS from my POV. The rock is very steep and crumbly. There are numerous areas that might be the trail — many lead to sketchy or exposed (small) climbs — and some of these just dead-end causing back tracks. I was “on” the GPS trail — but it wasn’t there. Just scary cliffs, climbs and dead-ends.

I eventually scrambled off “trail” down about 100 feet and around some of the worst parts — and then hunted and pecked my way back up to the plateau.

From there smooth sailing. The easternmost tower is climbable from the east face (exposed class 4 climb about 50 feet). Middle tower is easy to climb right up the center. All views are impressive. Tops of the towers very exhilarating.

The walk down is pretty — but very little cover and loose footing at places from heavy traffic. To extend the hike a bit, link up with “hole in the ground” trail before joining the last part of the Castle Peak return. Then walk down and under hwy 80 in the road and follow bunny hill drive to the campground.

hiking
6 months ago

Easy trail to the base of the mountain, but a bit of a scramble to the summit. Worth it for the views

6 months ago

Fun and challenging hike! The trailhead is located right off of I-80. Plenty of street parking. I would recommend trekking poles as the downhill descent is steep with loose rocks. Lots of interesting rock formations with spectacular views. Dog friendly!

hiking
6 months ago

This was a super fun and easy trail! We went early in the morning and it was very chilly at the top, so definitely prepare for that. At the top, you can see two ridge lines; make sure you descent to the correct ridge line it’s easy to get them mixed up! There was a little bit of snow but it was mostly melted.

There was a nice view at the top and there were lots of cool rocks and things to see all the way up. I definitely would recommend this hike! It’s a great trail for if you don’t want to drive all the way to Tahoe but want to do some good hiking!

7 months ago

one of my favorites

7 months ago

Hiked 6/20/18 with my 9 & 4 year old. At the bottom mosquitos were out, but disappeared after leaving the road and starting on the trail. Wish I had brought bug spray though. Poles would definitely have helped toward the top! Windy at summit but great views. Took us 4 hours with the kids but without them could have been much faster!

hiking
7 months ago

once on top of castle peak there is no trail that I could find. I had my phone GPS and Garmin Fenix GPS and while they indicated I was "on the trail" there were several points where the "the trail" was a cliff! there was a lot of snow on the backside of the peak so its possible the trail was on the backside buried but I couldn't find it and had a harrowing experience backtracking.

hiking
7 months ago

Beautiful hike. There is a little bit of snow left and the wildflowers are still in bloom as you aapproach the summit. Poles may be helpful as you get to the top due to the loose gravel. Super windy at the top of the peak in the mornings; however, the views are amazing!

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