Hike Crags Trail to Castle Dome

Castle Dome Trailhead

Hike to the foot of Castle Dome, a 4,996-foot granite peak and take in views of the majestic Mount Shasta. Explore the crags and spires of this granite palace. It'll take 2-5 hrs but give yourself more time than you think because once you're up there you won't want to leave.

One of the gems in the Shasta area, Castle Crags. You can spot these dramatic granite towers from a distance and their jagged formations beckon climbers and hikers alike. Imagine a slice of the Dolomites plucked out of Italy and placed in Northern California. Crags Trail to Castle Dome winds up through the shaded Shasta-Trinity Forest with beautiful views of the mighty Mt. Shasta. Expect a bit of a workout, with over a 2000 ft elevation change. It crosses paths with the famed Pacific Crest Trail, past Indian Springs and up to a granite palace of crags and spires to explore.

GETTING THERE:
From Interstate 5 take the Castella exit 724, also marked "Castle Crags State Park." Enter the park. Note there is a fee of $8. Turn right past the entrance and head towards the Campsite. Drive through the Campsite and follow signs for "Vista Point" on Vista Point Road. This will lead you up a single lane road. The road ends at a small parking lot that accommodates 20+ cars. There are bathrooms at the trailhead / parking lot.

Note: road to the trailhead does not appear on Google Maps. Here is a map of the park that shows Vista Point Road:parks.ca.gov

THE TRAIL:
For those craving a preview of the sight to come, venture to the far end of the parking lot where you can follow a short .25 mile path to the Vista Point.Begin the trail up to Castle Crags at the bottom of the parking lot, just below the bathroom.

The start is fairly flat as you approach a fork in the trail. You will see a sign that points towards Indian Springs and Castle Dome. Take the left and you will immediately start switchbacking through the forest. You've got 2.7 miles up and quite a climb but the views are well worth it.

Nearing the top, you will see a split in the trail for Indian Springs. Follow Crags trail to Castle Dome towards your right. Once you reach the rock formations you will find that there are several nooks and crannies to explore. Take your time - these crevices are beautiful. The trail may get difficult to distinguish, as some offshoots lead to climbing walls. Safe bet is to continue going up. The trail will lead you through the crags and to a green patch just at the base of Castle Dome. This is the trail's end.

For those adventure-seekers, you can scramble your way up the dome. The rock formations offer sturdy hand holds and it switchbacks up the dome. You will reach the top with a bit of an adrenaline kick. The last 20 feet are the most challenging - so know your limit and what you are capable of. Many stop just short of it - as the views of the crags and lush green valleys are breathtaking from there. Regardless of where you choose to finish your hike, the climb itself will leave you with a rush of excitement and a vista will well be worth it.

Plant lovers - here's a cool thing. There are two native species of plants which are endemic to Castle Crags.

  • Castle Crags ivesia (Ivesia longibracteata)
  • Castle Crags bellflower(Campanula shetleri)

Other intriguing facts: this formation lives on the ancient trade and travel route known as the Siskiyou Trail. Some believe it to be part of the lost land of Lemuria and home to an ancient civilization that practiced peace and the harmony of connectedness. The natives believed that spirits took form to live in these rocks and cliffs. This was also the site of the 1855 Battle of Castle Crags, resulting from disharmony between Gold Rush Miners and the native Indians. Whether or not the history resonates with you, one thing is for sure - you will find an inexplicable draw to this place.

Pack List

  • Water
  • Sunblock (there is not much coverage once you reach the crags)
  • Snack
  • Optional: Climbing gear as there are many spires and cracks to climb.
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RT Distance 5.1 Miles
Elevation Gain 2135 Feet
Activities Chillin, Photography, Hiking, Rock Climbing
Skill Level Intermediate
Season Year Round
Trail Type Out-and-Back
Features
Bathrooms
Easy Parking
Forest
Scenic

Reviews

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Overall rating: 

Amazing hike

But BRUTAL! If you go all the way to the Dome. Or if the tiny upper lot is full so you have to park and hike from the lower lot, up Bob’s Hat trail, adding another ~1 mile and ~500 to the regular route. Cannot best the views or the climbing opportunities though!!!

Great Spot for a day full of adventure!

What I love about Castle Crags is how versatile it is when it comes to choices in adventures. Winter? Slap on the snowshoes and make your way up to Castle Dome for some breathtaking views of the surrounding area (including nearby Mt. Shasta in all her glory). Summer? If rock climbing isn't your thing, take that same Castle Dome trail up for an almost completely different adventure. The surroundings looks so different it's like looking in a mirror, with both sides being equally breathtaking. Highly recommend!

Castle Crags

Great hike. Kids can do it with breaks but totally doable. Plus there's the side trail to the springs for a nice spot to each and taste the fresh water. Definitely not for kids who have never gone hiking before or for people who can't adjust to the incline.


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