Leg Day at Castle Crags Dome

HikeSnobs rate this: 3.5thumb


Visited: November 29, 2015

Description: A incline hike to a non-castle…… so don’t get mad when you don’t find a castle.

Hours: Sunrise to sunset, self registration required ($8)

Length: 5.4 miles roundtrip

Elevation: 2,135 feet

Duration: ~4 hours

Difficulty: Moderate to difficult

Terrain: Maintained dirt trail and then rocky

Wildlife: Coyotes, deer, snakes, rabbits, rattlesnakes, mountain lions

Pets: No dogs allowed

Parking: Lot (41.160509, -122.329507)

Best time to go: Anytime. It might look cooler on snowy or foggy days though

Bring: Camera, water, snack

It was the last day of our roadtrip, we started bright and early (as always) to attack Castle Crags Dome. Taco’s windshield was completely frosted over with a fresh layer of thin ice. Being the resourceful HikeSnobs that we are, Linda found a way to scrape off all the ice with our motel key card. We could not wait to get out of this freezing weather!


After removing off all the annoying ice, we made it to Castle Crags State Park and followed the signs to the vista point parking lot. We layered up, packed a backpack and headed toward the Castle Dome trail entrance. You will see the trailhead sign on the left side, right before parking in the lot.


The trail starts off pretty flat but we knew it wouldn’t last long. About five minutes in, we reached the beginning of the dreaded, continuous uphill climb.


We definitely felt our thighs getting a great workout after all the easy waterfall hikes. We needed a Leg Day anyways…….


Luckily for us, the first half of the trail is surrounded by a forest of tall pines giving us plenty of shade. A mile and a half into the hike, the trail will begin to open up. The smooth dirt trail becomes a bit more rocky, we knew we should be getting closer to the top… but not close enough!

When hiking the rocky portion of the trail, there are a few forks on the trail so be sure to check for actual trails before attempting to hike farther on a non-trail. The trail is clear and shouldn’t require any scrambling. Be careful on some parts of the rocky hike though, it can get pretty narrow.


Thighs burning, sweat dripping, our minds screaming whyyyyyy?!, after another mile in, we eventually reached Split rock. Alright, now we knew we should almost be there. After a short break here, our spirits lifted a bit and gave us the motivation to continue forward.


Just 15 more minutes and we made it! BEAUTIFUL, just beautiful. If there were  a waterfall, it would’ve definitely deserved 4 thumbs up. Are we a little bias? Maybe…… 😉

Alice enjoyed the view so much, she even decided to share with the mountains what her mama gave her.


Feeling so amazing after making it to the top, HikeSnobs rewarded themselves with a delicious krabby patty. Although it was a gummy krabby patty and we had to split it, it was still satisfying.


After spending as much time as we could at the top, we decided to make the climb back down. We even had enough energy to run a majority of trail back to our car. As we took a moment to rest, we could feel our thighs aching from the intense climb. After a waterfall weekend, a 2000+ elevation climb was just the workout we needed to complete our Thanksgiving trip.

@HikeSnobs Tips:

  • Be careful when driving to the parking lot, some parts of the road can only fit one car on a two way road.
  • Wear layers! We were sweating from this hike and had to strip down a bit even though the weather was cold.

Comments? Questions? Suggestions? Leave us a message below!

10 thoughts on “Leg Day at Castle Crags Dome

  1. This is a Northern California favorite. Some will “hike” the dome to its top. Not me. I get slightly anxious hanging onto the side of a granite slab.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Lovely views and great workout! Reminds me of my younger days hiking in Shenandoah National Park. Lots of steep trails there!


  3. Pingback: Mossbrae Falls

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