Castle Crags State Park

Introduction:

What? : Majestic Castle Crags 6000-feet tall granite spires are located above Castle Crags State Park. The Park offers a variety of camping, picnicking, hiking, and fishing opportunities.


This location is part of my "North California Waterfall Loop" road-trip suggestion.

 




Where? : The park is located just off highway 5, 14 miles south of the City of Mount Shasta and 21 miles north of Shasta Lake.

Google Map Link

 



When? : The park open year round but winter is less recommended season to visit (snow and cold weather).

 

Due note 1: Dogs are not allowed on hiking trails.

 

Due note 2: Castle Crags State Park is open year-round for camping (76 developed campsites), day use subject to closure during severe winter weather conditions.

 

Due note 3: Castle Crags Wilderness and the tall granite mountain spires border the northwestern edge of Castle Crags State Park.

 

Due note 4: If you are planning to park and hike from the Vista Point parking lot make sure to come early morning. The small parking at the end of the road may be full and you do not have any other close option to park at.

 

Due note 5: For Crags Trail plan for a half day hike, bring enough water with you and warm cloth for cold days.

 

Due note 6: You can combine this park visit with several other excellent nearby destinations, see my Redding and Shasta Waterfalls Loop Road Trip blog

 

My thoughts: I visit this park with one goal in mind, hike up the Crags Trail. The trail starts at the upper parking lot to the base of Castle Dome. It was fun hike, I’m in a good shape but this climb was tough constant uphill hike. The view from the top is amazing, Castle Crags, Mount Shasta, and the river gorge below.

 


The visit:

The large state park has 28 miles of hiking trails, some are moderate and some that climb up the mountains can be long uphill strenuous hikes.


Parking at the Vista Point parking area:

The small parking lot at the end of the road can get ill up midday. If it full there are no other nearby parking options, you need to wait or to drive down half a mail and find roadsides parking spots.

Highly advise to come early morning or later in the afternoon (not too late, make sure to have enough time for the long hike).

 

Easy hike options:

From the Vista Point parking area, a quarter mile accessible trail leads visitors to Vista Point where there are dramatic views of Castle Crags, Mount Shasta, and nearby Grays Rocks.

Another easy hike is the mile long Root Creek Trail that will take you to a year-round flowing creek.

 



Crags Trail Hike:

My visit here was centered around hiking the Crags Trail which leads adventures to the base of Castle Dome.

This is the most popular and challenging trail in the park which leads to the base of Castle Dome where the views are simply breathtaking.

 



This hike one way is 2.6 miles long (5.2 miles out and back) with a constant climbing, overall elevation gains of 2,200 ft.

When arriving mid-day to the park I did not find any parking spot available at the Viewpoint parking lot. I did not want to wait until it get one available. I drove down and find off the road parking, 0.6 mile down the road, this add 0.6 mile of climbing just to reach to the parking lot.

Overall, it took me 3.5 hours including a long rest at the top but I’m in a good shape and hiked fast all the way up (and down).

For moderate hiking past plan for 4-5 hours hike.

 


The trail starts at the parking lot north section, follow the signs to Crags Trail, soon after start hiking you will reach trail junction, keep left. From this point this is constant hike up the mountain.

Cross few other trails and keep hiking, this section is covered with pine forest so it has shaded (old fire traces can be seen in this trail section).

 

After hiking 1.6 miles from your starting point, you will see the side-trail to Indian Springs Trail, a short 0.2-mile hike to the springs. I will recommend taking this trail on your way back unless you want to have a stop in a nice place on your way up.

 

Soon after Indian Springs Trail the Crags Trail starts to find its way up the steep mountains rocky section, the forest change and landscape become open.

After and many switchbacks climbs you will reach the open section just below Castle Dome, overall distance from the parking lot is 2.6 miles, but it looks and feel longer 😊.

Here there are few viewing points, just above the cliffs, be careful not to fall from the cliff edges.

The dramatic views of Castle Crags pinnacles towering above you on one side, Castle Dome rock on the other, Mount Shasta to the north and the Shasta River gorge below.

 

After resting and enjoying the amazing view you start your hike back down to the parking lot.

 

www:

https://www.parks.ca.gov/?page_id=454

https://www.parks.ca.gov/pages/454/files/CastleCragsCampgroundMap2014.pdf

 

Map:

https://www.parks.ca.gov/pages/454/files/CastleCragsSP_WebBrochure2014.pdf

 

Pictures:

 
















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