Trails.com is merging with AllTrails! Please click here to read more.

Castle Peak Trail

HARD 430 reviews
#6 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

backpacking

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
no shade
rocky
scramble
28 days ago

Hiked up and back with the Husband today. Definitely bring a vehicle that can go offroad because you can cut out about 2 miles of the hike by driving up from the trailhead. DEFINITELY need hiking shoes. My Husband was slipping down some parts of the trail in running shoes. Hiking poles are also strongly recommended. Hardest part of the hike for me was the altitude going uphill (and I live here!) but I'm in below average physical shape. Going down was fine. My Husband said the hardest part for him was going downhill because it was so steep. Go on a cool day or go early because theres little to no shade. Amazing views through the whole trail and definitely worth the hike! No mosquitos.

hiking
1 month ago

Great day hike! We started later in the day where the wind picked up at the top but also fewer people made it a bonus!

hiking
rocky
1 month ago

Great trail! the last 1.5 mile before turning around is rocky and the trail is a little hard to follow since ther are lots of other trail all really leading to the same place but it can be a little confusing. I would recommend boots that protects the ankle and gaiters to keep rocks and dirt from the inside of shoes. There is no water so bring plenty.

hiking
1 month ago

lots of flowers and trail options. also takes you to the PCT 10/10

hiking
rocky
scramble
2 months ago

hiking
no shade
scramble
2 months ago

Gorgeous views! The gravel/sand on the way up isn't too bad, just steep. It's more tough on the way down and can get slippery. Bring shoes with good grip. Also, lots of beautiful wildflowers.

hiking
no shade
rocky
scramble
2 months ago

I wondered why this trail was rated hard. Boy, did I find out. Of the 1800+ feet in total elevation gain, you gain 1100 feet in the last mile and 1/8. In addition, the steep path is covered in sand, gravel, and scree increasing the likelihood of a fall. It's also a bit confusing as there are many different paths that branch off. While most of the side paths end up at the top, some of them lead elsewhere. Don't underestimate this trail - in addition to being hard it's moderately dangerous.

hiking
2 months ago

What an amazing trail! Wildflowers and butterflies line the first half off the trip. The last mile up to the peak is definitely strenuous, but the views are 100% worth it. I brought trekking poles, and I was very happy that I did. The way down is very steep and loose so anything extra will help. My poles actually saved me from falling a few times.

hiking
2 months ago

Super beautiful, especially with the swarms of butterflies. It is very steep, but doable.

hiking
2 months ago

Nice trail. But to many people

hiking
2 months ago

beautiful view. great challenge. not good if you have bad knees.

hiking
2 months ago

When we climbed Castle Peak, the butterflies were migrating. It was an incredible experience watching millions climb up over the mountain. This is a tough climb for people who aren't used to climbing mountains. It is totally doable with a teenage family.

hiking
bugs
rocky
2 months ago

Nice gentle incline walk from the main parking area along the first dirt road section of the trail. There were a few cars that made it up the first 1.5 miles or so of the road- it was pretty uneven terrain. Past the tree line was exposed and steep incline. A few very buggy spots but overall not bad if you kept moving. Pretty wildflowers!

hiking
bugs
2 months ago

hiking
2 months ago

Loved this trail!!! Straight up...and views well deserved!

hiking
2 months ago

Challenging incline at the end, but the views are worth it! Loose dirt and rocks on the steepest parts so bring poles unless you’re good at falling. Out in the open and exposed to the sun almost the entire trail, so bring the proper clothing, or sunscreen. Took 2 hours to the peak taking my time and stopping several times, and maybe 75 min down. Beautiful butterflies and wildflowers and clicking grasshoppers

hiking
bugs
rocky
scramble
2 months ago

hiking
2 months ago

7/31/19-So glad I went. Amazing wildflowers right now. Excellent views from the top

hiking
2 months ago

As others have written, the mosquitoes are ferocious at the bottom of the trail. Bring bug spray. Wildflowers abound and are especially beautiful starting about halfway up the trail. Beautiful views at the top. Breezy and cool at top, so bring a windbreaker if you plan to hang out for a while.

hiking
2 months ago

Awesome hike with friends. Incredible views.

hiking
2 months ago

Hiked to the top today with my wife and our two kids, 3 and a half and 10month old. Carried them all of the way to the top and down. Was a great test and a beautiful hike. Kids loved it, but wouldn’t we all if we were carried lol.

Load More

Featured Trails