Some days you don’t have time for a full day of hiking. Some people go to the gym, some go for a run, and I like to hike.
So on a busy Saturday when my family had plenty on the table, I needed to take a quick hike. From the Carson Valley, I have multiple options for a hike within an hour of the house. I could stay in the Valley and hike any of the great local trails. (Genoa, Clear Creek, Fay Luther) or I could head up to the lake and hike the Tahoe Rim trail from multiple destinations. However, I often fall back on days like today to Alpine county hikes. Going up into the Sierra in Alpine feels right to my soul. I am sure people who are like me know what I am saying. There is just something about hiking an area where you always have a good hike. It brings comfort.
The Thunder Mountain Trailhead
Today I choose the Thunder Mountain Trailhead up above Kirkwood Ski Resort of Highway 88. I have never hiked this Trail which made the timeline I was on a little uncertain, however, I had been told there are some excellent vista-type views here, and since the Silver lake region is one of my favorite summer playgrounds, I decided to give it a go. Castle Peak would give me a great view, at just over 8000 ft, of the surrounding granite valley and mtn lakes.
Castle Peak is located on the North side of HWY 88 across from the Thunder Mtn. Trailhead parking area. According to the map at the Trailhead the hike was going to be roughly a mile with about a 1000′ of elevation gain. Perfect for a quick afternoon hike with some incredible views. Check out some of the photos on this hike.
A few fascinating rock formations on the hike to Castle peak
The Trail to Castle peak eventually leads to Martins Meadow, a popular place for unloading and riding horses on the Thunder Mountain Loop. The Trail on the North side follows HWY 88 for the first mile and you can see all the traffic racing to their destination.
It is October in Alpine County, so many tourists drive up HWY 88 to see the fall colors, which were spectacular this weekend. But, on days like today, I want to scream out, Stop and look around; we drive by destinations such as Castle peak all the time and never know what we are missing.
Castle Peak hike is a hike I am recommending to friends. It is an easy-to-moderate hike, that can be accessed by all levels of hikers. However, the Trail is a little less maintained than trails like the Tahoe Rim Trail or even the popular Carson Pass trailhead just to the east that leads to Winnemucca Lake.
The Trail works for Horseback rides, Mtn. Bikers, hikers and Pets. If you have little kids and are looking for a short hike that will introduce them to the backcountry views, this would be a great hike (note there are a few ledges on the hike, so watch your little ones as there are no safety barriers from them and the edge).
Update note on this hike, the Caldor fire of 2022 did leave much of the area around Castle Peak burned and scarred. Therefore, the visuals today are pretty different than when I first took this hike. However, the views are still breathtaking, and recovery can be seen below already in the ash.
As always, we at Sierra REC hope you enjoy your next hike. If you try this hike out, Tweet us or share a photo with us on Facebook #goexplore.
- Other Popular Recreational opportunities in this region include: Fishing at Caples Lake
- Hiking to the Pot Holes at Silver Lake
- Hiking to Emigrant Lake behind Caples lake
- Winnemucca Lake Hike on Carson Pass
- Camping at Silver Lake (Kit Carson Retreat) Camping at Caples Lake, Camping Woods Lake, Camping Kirkwood lake)
- Hiking the PCT Trail on top of Kit Carson Pass.
Sierrarecmagazine.com is dedicated to sharing insights on local trails, events and recreational opportunities from around the sierra Mountain range.
Leave a Reply