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Castle Peak Trail

HARD 278 reviews
#5 of 193 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

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.

hiking
scramble
snow
5 days ago

hiking
scramble
snow
10 days ago

views: 11/10 current conditions: 7ish/10 this is truly a majestic hike and i only saw 3 other people (all of us solo hiking) most of the way. The only reason it's not a 5-star is bc of the crazy amounts of snow. it just makes walking so much more of a task, but on the other hand, the views were just magical. i would advise waiting another 2 or 3 weeks until it melts. as another person mentioned; most of it (the first 2 miles) is hard snow pack which is fine if you are hiking bt 6am and 9am, but as the day wanes on, the snow gets soft and slushy. once i got to the junction for castle peak/peter grubb hut, it got easier and the snow pack opened up to dirt. there is a pretty steep section towards the end and i didn't actually nab the final summit bc i was alone and it requires some pretty intense "scrambling", but even as far as i went i still had a 360 view of the area. i cannot recommend hiking poles enough, it's really slippery in the snow and on the scree towards the summit, my poles saved me a few times! coming down was a bit harder (for me anyway) than going up. granted: i was only wearing hiking shoes (as was everyone else), but even with hiking poles and being super fit, i was still falling and took a couple of 'slides' down some of the steeper parts. the snow was so slushy that i couldn't plant a firm step, even when it looked flat, the snow would give on one side and my foot would slide down, pushing me off balance. sometimes my poles caught me and sometimes i took a tumble. it was actually quite comical. anyway, if you do go: bring poles and tread lightly, the snow is melting from top and bottom so the odds of falllng through will increase as it melts more. the earlier you can start, the better. :)

hiking
snow
13 days ago

Great day hike with expansive views! You will be walking on about 5-20 feet of compacted snow the entire way. We began at 1pm and got back around 5pm. The snow was pretty easy to walk over and fun to run down on the way back. Many folks had skis and snow shoes, but we just had normal hiking boots. Highly recommend this trail for anyone looking to get a good hike in and see the gorgeous high alpine views. (P.S. we saw a Marmot and a fox along the way).

hiking
over grown
rocky
scramble
snow
15 days ago

Completed on 9 June, 6:30am start. First 2k on the ‘road’ is hard packed icy snow but fine with yak tracks. Gets steep and similarly icy after that, but good post holed tracks by prior hikers makes it easily passable (if slow). Ridgeline is fun and flat mix of snow and dirt/trail, then followed by steep ascending on hard pack snow. At ~3.5k there’s a section of very steep hard pack snow that we chose to avoid by climbing up pretty steep rock; this section is short and fine (down climbing also fine). Last 1.5k to the summit is steep loose scree. Beautiful and fun, super windy and mostly exposed so bring a jacket! Ascent took 1h45, descent 1h15 with some running.

hiking
off trail
rocky
snow
15 days ago

15 days ago

great hike no snow shoes niesery

hiking
scramble
snow
23 days ago

Did the hike June 1, 2019. Snow is very slushy but i was able to hike it without snowshoes. There is almost no snow at the peak but dont underestimate the weather right now. It was hot and sunny while hiking and then it started raining. I was able to hide in a small cave and then descended after it stopped.

1 month ago

Still plenty of snow as of May 11th. I was able to make it to the peak without snowshoes, but trudging across the flat snowy path near the trailhead was a grind. No trail to speak of for the first mile and a half, just tracks left by other hikers, but once you get up on the ridge it's very obvious what to do. The snow clears up and the trail becomes visible once the steep, rocky ascent begins, and it is STEEP. You will need to use your hands at a couple spots. I saw plenty of people turning back at one point or another on the final ascent, so make sure your cardio is up to speed. The view from the peak is beautiful, and I must have been lucky because there was no wind at all. Made it up and back in 4 hours including a nice long rest at the top.

hiking
1 month ago

Snow was firm pack in the morning, made it to the peak without difficulty. Gets a little slushy and slippery toward the end of the day.

3 months ago

I've been on a lot of hikes and this hike kicks my a** everytime. gorgeous view when you get to the top. i like combining it with basin peak.

snowshoeing
snow
5 months ago

I have never hiked up Castle Peak in the summer but rather use it for snowshoeing in winter and early spring . Nice views when the weather is clear however all 3 times I have hiked this trail I got caught in storms and the last time had to bail out on the ridge because of avalanche risk. Easy to get to off of highway 80 and a nice steady climb up (little steeper toward the top) with a little scrambling needed to get to the true summit.

5 months 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!

5 months 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!

6 months ago

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

hiking
6 months 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
7 months 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.

8 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..

8 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)

8 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
8 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.

8 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.

9 months ago

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

hiking
9 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

9 months ago

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

absolutely beautiful

9 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
9 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.

9 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

9 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.

9 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.

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