Castle Peak is high summit is a comparatively easy target and a pretty short trip by heading close to the highpoint of Donner Pass. However, don’t be misguided by the first mile – the top section is steeper and rockery.
- On the way
- When to visit
- Need to know
On the way
Park north on the highway at the Castle Valley Road parking area from exit 176 on the freeway. Start your walk on the Castle Valley Road and pass the Hole In the Ground Trail to the left as you climb the gradual dirt road. The path climbs higher up to cross the PCT: Highway 80 on Castle Pass, Highway 49.
Start right up the western ridge of Castle Peak and transition to Castle Peak Trail from the busy intersection. Trees are dwindling, and both this peak and the entire area have great views. You get to the final summit with 360° views from a steep and rocky scramble. You can see Mount Diablo in the bay area, the snow-covered Lessen Peak to the north, and all of the mountains that surround Lake Tahoe in clear days.
If you have enjoyed the views at the top, head back down the way you came to the parking area and return to your car.
When to visit
At any time of year, Castle Peak can be climbed. It’s a nice destination for snowshoes. Look out for ice on rocky areas in mid-winter. The region is normally free of snow between June and October. Snow is long held on the east face, but in the early season the western face loses even more.
Need to know to Castle Peak Trail
- By using the PCT: Highway 80 to Highway 49 (near Sierra City) trail and bypassing Castle Valley Lane, you can make this hike longer and prettier.
- Alternatively, you can drive a portion of Castle Valley Road if you have a high-clearance car, and shorten this hike a bit.