Some days you just don’t have time for a full day of hiking. Some people go to the gym, some go for a run, I like to hike.
So on a busy Saturday when my family had plenty on the table I needed to fit in a quick hike. From the Carson Valley I have multiple options for a hike with in an hour of the house.. I could stay int he 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. something about going up into the sierra in Alpine, just feels right to my soul. I am certain people who are like me know what I am saying. There is just something about hiking an area where you never have a bad hike. It brings comfort.
Today I choose the Thunder Mountain Trail head up above Kirkwood Ski Resort. I have never hiked this trail which made the time line I was on a little uncertain, however I had been told there are some great vista type views here and since the Silver lake region is one of my favorite summer playground I decided to give it a go. Destination Castle Peak which I hoped 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. Trail head parking area.  According to the map at the Trail head the hike was going to be roughly a mile hike 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.

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Granite Basin below Kirkwood Ski resort and Castle Peak
Thunder Mountain Picture

Thunder Mountain to the South.
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Silver Lake from Castle Peak.
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A few fascinating rock formations in the hike to Castle peak
The Trail to Castle peak eventually leads to Martins Meadow, a popular place for unloading the horses and riding the horses on the Thunder Mountain Loop. The trail on the North side follows HWY 88 for a the first mile and you can see all the traffic racing by to their destination. It is October in Alpine County which means that there are many tourists who drive up HWY 88 to see the fall colors, which were spectacular this weekend.  On today’s 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. The trail is a little less maintained then trails like the Tahoe Rim Trail, or even the popular trail head 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 back country 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)
I will be coming back to this location to try the Thunder MTN side when I have  a little more time.
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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 Caples Lake
  • Hiking to the Pot Holes at Silver 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.

SierraREC.com is dedicated to sharing the insights on local trails, events and recreational opportunities from around the sierra Mountain range.

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