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Climbing California's Mountains
by Jay Anderson (Falcon Guides)
A dramatic volcanic summit just north of Interstate 80 and west of Donner Summit, on the way to the high country from the Sacramento Valley— a worthwhile goal in itself, and also a good warm-up before tackling some of the other climbs in the Tahoe area. The view from Castle Peak includes most of the Tahoe peaks, Lake Tahoe, Sierra Buttes, Eureka Peak, and (on a clear day) Mount Lassen. Castle Peak is the first significant mountain encountered along the drive to Lake Tahoe from the Sacramento Valley. It stands prominently north of the interstate, offering a moderate hike through varied terrain.
Top Trails Lake Tahoe
by Mike White (Wilderness Press)
A climb to one of North Tahoe’s highest summits provides summiteers with an expansive view of the northern Sierra, which on clear days includes distant Lassen Peak in the north and the coastal hills to the west.
Snowshoe Routes: Northern California
by Marc J. Soares (The Mountaineers Books)
Mostly flat-topped, chunky-looking Castle Peak is wild and remote country, where a snowshoeing soul can savor top-of-the-world views and spend quality hang time exploring this extensive summit. This route takes you past conifers into a broad and open valley, up to a forested pass, and then along an exposed and rocky ridge that reveals countless views of Tahoe and Donner Summit mountains. You may see cross-country skiers and dogs in the valley, but you are likely to have Castle Peak’s slopes to yourself. Only rarely will you see a snowshoer or careening snowboarder in the higher reaches. Box-shaped Castle Peak, looking like a mammoth white molar, graces the scene to the east the first half of the way, giving reason to crane your head often to size up the challenge. For more aloneness and ease of parking, do this route on a weekday.
Sierra North: Backcountry Trips in California's Sierra Nevada
by Kathy Morey & Mike White with Stacy Corless & Thomas Winnett (Wilderness Press)
While the elevation gain and loss experienced along this route requires hikers to be in good physical condition, the rewards of incomparable views, picturesque lakes, vibrant wildflowers, and exquisite scenery more than make up for the extra effort. Additional cross-country routes to the summits of Basin or Castle peaks and plenty of connecting trails provide tantalizing ways to extend your visit to these lands.
Although most of this route travels outside the proposed Castle Peak Wilderness, plenty of pleasant terrain is encountered along the way, including two picturesque meadows and an excellent view from atop Andesite Peak. Both Castle and Round meadows offer the chance to see raptors in search of prey or deer browsing the tender foliage. Throw in the Peter Grubb Hut for a bit of Tahoe Sierra history and you have the makings of a fine adventure.
50 Classic Backcountry Ski & Snowboard Summits in California
by Paul Richins (The Mountaineers Books)
This area has been a backcountry ski destination for many decades. The gentle terrain and the ease of access contribute to the area’s popularity. The Sierra Club’s Peter Grubb Hut is located in Round Valley, due west of Castle Peak. There are several fine but short descent routes off the summit ridge, and for the adventurous there are a number of steep descents on the north side of Castle Peak down Coon Canyon and North Fork Prosser Creek.
Afoot & Afield: Tahoe-Reno: 201 Spectacular Outings in the Lake Tahoe Region
A climb to one of North Tahoe’s highest summits gives summiteers an expansive view of the northern Sierra, which on clear days includes distant Lassen Peak in the north and the coastal hills of California to the west. Castle Peak and the neighboring mountains are mostly volcanic in nature, offering an abundance of interesting-looking ramparts, turrets, and “castles.” Unlike much of the Tahoe Sierra to the south, where glacier-scoured granitic rocks hold a bevy of lakes, the relatively porous volcanic rocks in this area offer relatively few lakes.
Fittingly named Round Valley and Castle Valley undergo a major transformation when blessed with pure white snow in the winter, which usually lasts through mid-spring. What was typical and blasé in the summer becomes soft and scenic, a pleasure in the white season. The ease of the route and the nice mix of small and tall conifers, sometimes draped lovingly with powder, allows a soul to aimlessly daydream to the simple rhythm of the snowshoes. Rectangular Castle Peak, resembling a huge white molar, looms above you to the east the whole way, giving reason to crane your head often to get your view fix. Stylish Peter Grubb Hut makes for a fine destination, and you can stay overnight by contacting the Sierra Club at (530) 426-3632. This way there’s plenty of time to climb Castle Peak (Route 40) or explore the wild backcountry to the north to obtain the solitude that may be lacking on the popular trip to the hut. For more aloneness and ease of parking, do this route on a weekday.
Great experience for my first snowshoe trip, weather was excellent, people along the trail were very friendly and the trail was well mapped out.
Late Winter/Early Spring conditions...overcast and chilly with light flurries for 2 days provided for "light dust on unbreakable crust!"
Skiied off the back of Castle Peak and right into the Grubb Hut to warm our bones and fill our bellies with lunch.
Afterwards we went to what i think is Andesite Ridge towards Andesite Peak to ski down into the trail which was really nice. Round trip 3 - 3.5 hours.
Yesterdays rain followed by freezing temps overnight brought up perfect, smooth, corn snow on the south facing flank by 10am.
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