Castle Crags - Hiking

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Offering panoramic views of the majestic Mt. Shasta and a chance to delve into beginning rock climbing, the 5-mile Castle Dome hike at Castle Crags State Park is a must for adventure seekers.

Written by

Shawn Lehman


5.0 miles

I started my hike from the Vista Point parking lot which is accessible via a winding, narrow, one-way road. There is room for around 20 vehicles. If you want to avoid the parking area, you can start your hike from the campground area (add an additional 0.8 miles to your trip).

Destination Distance From Downtown

40.9 miles


4 of 5 diamonds

With an elevation increase of 2,135 feet, this 5mi hike requires some beginner's rock climbing during the last quarter of the trail. The trail is not clearly marked at the last quarter of the hike.

Time To Complete

6 hours

As this is a steep trail with some light rock climbing, give yourself time to take breaks and to ensure your footing when climbing.


All Seasons

The summer temperatures in Castella can reach up to the high 80s and winters can be snowy and unpredictable. The best seasons for completing this hike are spring and fall.

Dog Friendly


Fees Permits


The trailhead is located in Castle Crags State Park, and there is an $8 entrance fee.

Land Website

Castle Crags - Hiking



Created 170 million years ago when an oceanic plate collided with North America, the jagged peaks and domes of Castle Crags is truly a sight to behold. 

Located in Castella, a small mountain town in Northern California, this geological wonder is accessible via Castle Crags State Park. Featuring panoramic views of Mt. Shasta and the Shasta-Trinity National Forrest, the 5-mile Crags Trail offers spectacular scenery as well as the chance to do some beginning rock climbing. After a day on the Dome, you can visit Ammirati’s Market, a PCT resupply point, and pick out a few celebratory beers from their respectable selection.

What Makes It Great

The views from this trail are breathtaking, but you have to earn them. With an elevation gain of 2,135 feet, this is a strenuous 5-mile hike. While the first 0.3 miles of this trail are fairly level, the remainder of the hike is a steady climb with multiple switchbacks. About 3/4 into the hike, you can veer left onto Indian Springs Trail and enjoy panoramic views of the forest as well as the Crags above. This trail is 0.5 miles round trip off the main Crags Trail. While the spring is high in elevation, it is still wise to purify the water prior to drinking it.

The trail climate changes from a wide path of pine needles and dirt to a narrow one of slippery sediment and rock about 3/4 in. A fair amount of beginners rock climbing is required in this last part of the trail. There is a 10-foot section of the trail that is extremely narrow and requires some wall-hugging. Once you get to the top, your aching legs and sweaty back will thank you. It’s as if you are on top of the world and below are oceans of forests and snow-capped mountains. Now you can relax and explore the crags.

Who is Going to Love It

The majority of the dirt path is wide, well-maintained and shaded by large trees. As previously stated, the trail is steep so make sure you have time to rest, have a snack, and enjoy the scenery. While the views from the top are worth the climb, there are shorter options available for those who aren't up to rock climbing. Indian Springs Trails offers views of the Crags and shaves 1.5 hours off your time. As both hands are needed to climb the last portion of the trail, those who require assistance getting around may want to avoid the last quarter of the trail. Good hiking shoes are recommended.

Directions, Parking, & Regulations


Castle Crags

20022 Castle Creek Rd
Castella, CA , 96017
41.148676, -122.316336

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