Castle Peak 8306 in Pasayten Wilderness via Manning Park / 城堡峯

  • Reading time:11 mins read

Castle Peak 8306 is a prominent peak in the northwest corner of Pasayten Wilderness. Manning Park offers the most direct way to the mountain. Due to its remoteness, the closest taller neighbor isn’t until 15 miles away.

 Castle Peak in the clouds
Castle Peak in the clouds

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Castle Peak at a Glance

Access: Monument 78-83 Trailhead
Round Trip: 27.1 miles
Elevation Range: 3700′-8306′
Gear: helmet
GPS Track: available
Dog-Friendly: on the trail

The Preface

Castle Peak was our final trip to wrap up the season. When friends and I climbed West McMillan Spire in August, we talked about going to Hozomeen Campground. So they would go up Hozomeen Mountain while I went after Castle Peak.

But the terrible weather over Labor Day weekend changed our plans. The weather looked promising the last week of September, but my friends weren’t available. Paying the $350 boat fare alone wasn’t worth it, so the pup and I went in from the north.

Beautiful morning over Similkameen River
Beautiful morning over Similkameen River

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Monument 78-83 Trail

Monument 78 Trail was in excellent shape, with only one washed-out section. But there was plenty of flagging to guide the way. There wasn’t much to see along the lonely trail other than birds chirping.

We sometimes viewed Windy Joe Mountain as the trail wrapped around the peak’s south side. Not sure if Frosty Mountain was visible, but I didn’t look for it. Before long, we reached the border camp and rested.

Windy Joe Mountain
Windy Joe Mountain

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International Crop Line

The bridge over Castle Creek was by the camp, where Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) continued north. But once we crossed the water, we went south through the brush and pole-vaulted over down trees. This part reminded me of similar Bulger List trips.

The pup and I moved through the trees and soon reached a broad clearing, the international crop line. Two people, likely PCT finishers, stood by the northern terminus to the east. Two more openings later provided a brief relief, albeit swampy.

A momentary relief
A momentary relief

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En Route to Castle Creek Basin

The terrain was pretty flat until Castle Creek turned west at 4500′, where we started going uphill. At the same time, we tried creative ways to bypass down trees. A report I found suggested not to stay high north of the creek.

Of course, we did the opposite and soon swam in the endless alder. But we made it through to 5500′ and found water plus a decent spot to set up our camp. The site also came with a full view of the basin.

Castle Creek Basin below Castle Peak
Castle Creek Basin below Castle Peak

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Castle Peak Climb

It rained overnight, and clouds had hovered over Castle Peak when morning came. Since we likely wouldn’t have had any views at the top, I contemplated leaving. But soon as I remembered the unpleasant approach, I let go of the idea.

We left camp soon after breakfast and went to the bottom of the wide gully on the south. Then the weather looked to be taking a turn for the better. It was promising as the sun had seeped through the dense clouds.

Castle Peak south gully
Castle Peak south gully

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Castle Peak Summit Minus the Views

We later went into the northeast gully at 6800′ and aimed for the 7400′ notch but ended up at 7600′. Then we worked our way west through the ridgeline. Soon, we crossed granite slabs, boulders, and snow patches to the south of the summit.

A short scramble soon put us atop Castle Peak, minus the views! Too bad since I had looked forward to seeing Canada and the neighboring peaks. Plus, Hozomeen Mountain would’ve been spectacular from this summit. Alas, another time.

Looking into Freezeout Creek Basin
Looking into Freezeout Creek Basin

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Back to Castle Creek Basin Camp

We took the southwest ridge for a quick glimpse of the Freezeout Creek Basin on the way back. It looked impressive as the clouds drifted away for a brief moment! At least we had valley views on this trip.

I later checked out the terrain on Castle Peak’s south face, which looked doable. There were lots of the typical Cascade choss. Soon at 6800′, we joined our up track and safely landed in camp at 1300′ below.

Castle Peak south face
Castle Peak south face

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Leaving Castle Creek Basin

After packing, we stayed south of Castle Creek and avoided the alder swath altogether. Then at 5400′, we found a decent spot to cross the creek. It put us north of the water and soon bypassed the cliffs at 5300′.

Below the cliffs, we moved northeast to 5000′ and soon joined our up route. Afterward, we went back to 4500′ where Castle Creek turned north. Then we went through the same things but in reverse.

Castle Creek Basin panoramic view
Castle Creek Basin panoramic view

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Outro

We returned to the border camp after dark. Then the following day, we walked south on Monument 78 Trail to check out the PCT northern terminus monument. Two thru-hikers who had made their journey from the Mexican border showed up shortly.

An hour later, back at camp, we packed and hiked out on a sunny Monday morning. The drive west through BC Manning Provincial Park and Sunshine Valley was quite scenic. The gorgeous views of Canadian peaks were at every turn.

PCT northern terminus monument
PCT northern terminus monument

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