Looking for a great 1 day snowshoeing trip with outstanding views that doesn’t require a 4WD or SUV to reach? Look no further than Castle Peak, it’s located right across from Boreal Ski Resort on Hwy 80.
After parking the car on the frontage road next to the Boreal Inn start walking down the road back to freeway exit and turn right and go under the freeway. Continue on this same road and you will see a gate where you can put on your snowshoes. The trail initially follows a road and is very easy to follow. After about 3/4 of a mile we were faced with 2 options: (1) continue to follow the road to the left or (2) head to the right across a stream and a gorgeous wide open meadow. We chose the latter option which roughly follows the Pacific Crest trail. We were so excited by the abundance of sunshine that we ‘jumped’ for joy.
At some point we lost track of the Pacific Crest trail and started to follow the multitude of ski tracks in the area until we ran into an impassable ravine which required a significant backtrack effort to relocate the trail. Eventually we followed the contour below Castle Peak and met up with the original trail from the meadow. As you close in on the saddle there are some tremendous views to the South. When we reached the saddle it was too late in the day to continue on and reach Castle Peak which was another 600 feet of climbing and the wind was becoming rather fierce. We took a short celebratory picture and quickly headed back down to the car before sunset.
Directions: Take the Castle Peak/Boreal Ridge Rd. and then turn left (and not right into Boreal’s parking lot). You must pay for a Sno-Park ($5) parking permit at the Boreal Inn.
Distance: 5.6 miles
Vertical: 1200 feet
Notes: Be aware of avalanche conditions and check the Sierra Avalanche Center before heading out to the trail.