“A trail over Castle Pass from the Serene Lakes to Palisade basins in the Royal Gorge area.”
— George Lamson
Birding · Views · Wildflowers · Wildlife
A valid trail pass is required from the Royal Gorge ski resort for winter skiing.
This multi-track trail is a ski trail in the winter and a popular hiking trail in the summer. It is part of a network of trails that provide access to the Royal Gorge open space area. It can be accessed from the Reindeer Trail
and the closest trailhead parking is at Summit Station on Kidd Lakes Rd at the northwest corner of the Serene Lakes community. During the snowy months, it is usually groomed for both Nordic and skate skiing by the resort.
The trail heads west through lodgepole/fir forest out of the Serene Lakes basin over Castle Pass and down into the Palisade Creek basin. The climb up the east side of the pass is easy while the descent on the west side is on rocky, loose trail. On the west side, there are excellent views of the palisade rock formations on Palisade Peak on the north side of the trail. The trail winds down through the pass to the Hellman's Way Trail
which leads out to the Point Mariah Trail
The eastern leg of this trail is over Truckee Donner Land Trust managed land while the western leg is on US Forest Service land.
Flora & Fauna
The trail cuts through a lodgepole/fir forest and during the summer is populated by a large collection of Sierra wildflowers. The forest is the home to deer, ground squirrels, bobcat, martens, coyotes, bears and the occasional mountain lion. There is a wide variety of Northern Sierra birdlife.