Hiking Castle Crags
I feel like a reoccurring theme in my life is bad weather on climbing weekends. Josh and I drove up to Castle Crags for a weekend to hop on the Cosmic Wall for some nice, runout easy trad, but once again, Mother Nature threw a wrench in our plans.
It poured the night before and rain was still steadily coming down in the morning. We got up and decided to head to the trailhead anyway. We took the short nature walk up to the Castle Crags viewpoint but no views were to be had due to thick fog. With visibility so terrible and the occasional sprinkle, Josh and I opted to hike around the crags with weight in our packs instead.
The trail to Castle Dome is a steady uphill climb. When it’s sunny, forest cover offers tons of shade for hikers until the first bits of granite appear on the trail. From there, cover is fairly sparse and minimal. The trail is fairly straightforward until the last half mile or so until the Castle Dome viewpoint. It becomes a bit of a choose your own adventure. On our Saturday trek, visibility was absolutely terrible. We couldn’t see Castle Dome until it was about 40 feet in front of us which made for some really tough route finding. After some random scrambling, we discovered the observation deck at the base of the dome, which was really just some poles and cables put into the side of a cliff wall. There wasn’t much signage or a trail, so I’m not sure how easy it is to find when everything isn’t obscured by fog. Our out-and-back hike was fairly slow with all the time we had to kill; we decided to lay our hands on every single, remotely climbable boulder we passed.
The next day forecasted sunnier and more amicable weather. We had every intention to climb, but accidentally snoozed through all our alarms instead. We opted to hike up to Castle Crags one more time before making the 4.5 hour drive back to San Francisco. This time, we added on the extra mile to Root Creek before the ascent to Castle Dome. Root Creek is incredibly lush and flows year round. The trail is flat and handicapped-friendly until maybe the last quarter mile where a few tree roots make an appearance on the trail. From Root Creek, we hopped onto the PCT until it meets up with the Castle Crags trail and headed back up to where we were the previous day. The area looked incredibly different without fog. We could even see Shasta and Castle Dome! Looking forward to coming back to tackle the Cosmic Wall.