Mt. Hubris, also known as The Ogre (one’s face can be discerned on the mountain’s, well, face, during the approach), is perhaps the most imposing of the Castle Crags (also including nearby Castle Dome), a small group of precipitous granite peaks on the eastern side of northern California’s Klamath Mountains. Were the Castle Crags 2 or 3 times larger, about 20,000 ft. higher, and flanked by glaciers on all sides, they would be right at home in the Karakoram. Although nearby Mt. Shasta commands the attention of all in the area, rock climbers cannot help but admire the Castle Crags & have a yearning to climb them, particularly the Ogre.
No easy route exists up this peak, and most opt to climb it via the classic Cosmic Wall, a 6 pitch rock climb (rated 5.6) put up by none other than the British Himalayan hardman Chris Bonington. Descent is typically accomplished via 2 steep rappels back down to the base. There would be long lines for this climb in the Valley or in the Meadows, but due to its location, combined with a longish approach, it sees amazingly few visitors.
Castle Crags are located approximately 70 miles south of the Oregon/California state line along interstate 5 (or approx. 50 miles north of Redding, CA). From I5, take the Castella exit (also marked "Castle Crags State Park"). Note that the exits on interstate highway 5 in California are now numbered; the exit you want is #724. From the exit ramp, drive west a few hundred yards till you see the "guard booth" for the state park.
Stop here and pay either the day use fee ($4/day/car, self-issued) or secure the camp site reservation. Past the entrance, make a right and follow the winding road through the campground and past a trailer turn-around loop (follow signs for Castle Crags overlook). Continue to road's end at the Castle Crags overlook parking lot (no parking 8pm to 6am....not sure how strictly enforced this rule is).
From the trailhead, hike back down the road you just drove up for about 200 yards. Pick up the signed trail (Castle Dome Trail) on the right. Hike the trail for about 10 minutes passing the signed Root Creek Trail branchoff on the right. Few minutes later, Castle Dome Trail intersects the PCT - continue straight on the Castle Dome Trail eventually passing a boundary marker for Castle Crags Wilderness. About 45 minutes from the trailhead you will pass Indian Springs Trail on the left. Stay on the main trail as it heads toward the first view point of Castle Dome. The trail then switchbacks up eventually passing through a rock "portal" (steep walls on both sides immediately next to trail). Six Toe Rock towers on the left side of the trail just beyond this portal. Stay on trail and keep hiking towards Castle Dome. Stay on the main trail until just before the Observation Deck, a minor rock outcrop on the left side (west) of Castle Dome. Here, look for faint trails heading left up the gentle slope. You're essentially following a ridge (steep drop off on right side) heading SW toward the foot of Mt. Hubris (the formation is directly in front of you at this point). Note that the "trails" beyond Observation Deck are intermittent and you're basically bushwhacking your way through the "nasty stuff". If your destination is Cosmic Wall, you're heading for the lowest point on the buttress (see route description for additional directions to route's start).
How much dough will being here set you back? As Mt. Hubris lies within Castle Crags State Park, a day-use pass is required ($8 as of June, '10).
Also because Mt. Hubris lies within a California State Park, certain rules should be abided by while visiting. Most of this is common sense- just don’t do anything stupid. The following rules I copied, practically verbatim, from a park brochure (obtained February 2005 & dated May ’98) entitled “CALIFORNIA STATE PARK SYSTEM RULES AND REGULATIONS BRIEFED:”
· NATURAL SCENERY, PLANTS AND ANIMAL LIFE are the principal attractions of most state parks. They are integral parts of the ecosystem and natural community. As such they are protected by Federal, State and Park laws. Disturbance or destruction of these resources is strictly forbidden.
· DEAD AND DOWN WOOD is part of the natural condition. Decayed vegetation forms humus and assists the growth of trees and other plants. For this reason the gathering of down wood is prohibited. Fuel is sold in the parks for your convenience. (When considered a hazard, down wood is removed by park personnel.)
· DOGS AND OTHER DOMESTIC ANIMALS are not permitted to run at large in any unit of the State Park System. Dogs or cats must be in a tent or vehicle during nighttime hours. Dogs must be controlled on a leash no longer than six feet during the day. Dogs are prohibited in some parks, on all trainls, and on any beach adjacent to any body of water except in designated areas.
· ALL VEHICLE TRAVEL must be confined to designated roads or areas. The speed for all vehicles is 15 miles per hour in camp, picnic, utility or headquarters areas and areas of general assemblage; in no event shall any vehicle be driven at a speed greater than 25 miles per hour in other areas unless otherwise posted. All vehicles and all drivers must be licensed. Parking is permitted only in designated areas. Blocking parking spaces is prohibited.
· CAMPSITE USE must be paid for in advance. To hold a campsite, it must be reserved or occupied. To prevent encroachment on others, the limits of each campsite may be regulated by the District Superintendent. Checkout time is 12:00 NOON.
In order to provide for the greatest number of visitors possible the CAMPING LIMIT in any one campground is 30 days per calendar year.
· REFUSE, including garbage, cigarettes, paper boxes, bottles, ashes and other rubbish, shall be placed only in designated receptacles. Your pleasure and pride in your parks will be enhanced when they are kept clean.
PLEASE clean up after yourself so that others may enjoy the beauty of these parks.
The pamphlet sums it up beautifully & poetically: “LEAVE ONLY FOOTPRINTS, TAKE ONLY MEMORIES.”
Castle Crags can be accessed year-round though you will need to hike in over snow in the winter . Ideally, spring (April) to fall (November or when first snows arrive) is the best time to visit the Crags. Summer temperatures can be quite warm.
k2link suggests this alternative to the standard State Park campground (closed anyway; thanks!):
If the main family campground isn't your cup of tea, there are a couple of "environmental" sites available. Follow Castle Creek Road into the park, and instead of turning right into the campground hang toward the left and continue on Castle Creek Road (about a mile) until you see a flume on the right hand side, with three campsites behind it. Each site has a picnic table and food box, and a poorly maintained vault toilet. When I was last there in 2005, I believe it was $5 a night per site. This site is worth looking for... it's much quieter and seems miles away from the front of the park.
Castle Crags State Park hosts a campground, complete with a shower & toilets, for 25 smackeroos (as of May, 2022). Approximately 76 campsites are available, as well as a shower & toilets. Check in at the ranger booth at the park entrance- self-issue fee envelopes are available in case no-one is there.
Things to keep in mind concerning the camping situation:
· As said, camping is $25 (+ $6/extra car).
· 8 people are allowed per family campsite.
· Checkout is noon.
· Dogs must be kept on a leash no longer than 6’ and under control at all times. They are not permitted in buildings or on trails (except the campground trail). Dogs must be confined to a vehicle or tent at night.
· Fires allowed only in established fire rings or camp stoves. Don’t gather wood in the park- firewood is available for purchase at the entrance station.
· Quiet hours are from 22.00-6.00.
· Horseshoes and similar games are not allowed in the campgrounds.
· Lock all food in bear boxes provided. Improper food storage could result in a citation with a maximum fine of $1,000 (Section 4323(b) CCR).
There is also an 'environmental campsite,' available for $15/night (Thanks, Forrest77).
Reservations may be made 48 hours to 7 months in advance by calling 1.800.444.7275 (TTY 1.800.274.7275)- have your Visa, Discover, or MasterCard ready. You can also make a reservation by visiting the California State Parks web site: www.parks.ca.gov.
MOUNT SHASTA RANGER STATION
204 W. Alma St.
Mount Shasta, CA 96067
Tel: (530) 926-4511
CASTLE CRAGS STATE PARK
P.O. Box 80
Castella, CA 96017-0080
Tel #1: (530) 235-2684
Tel #2: (530) 225-2065
Castle Crags State Park website
Nearby Weather Report: Mount Shasta Weather Underground page.
Mountain Conditions information taken from John's Castle Dome page with permission.