Thursday, August 8, 2013

Kingsbury trail system: from Kingsbury South (KB/S) to Castle Rock

Once, the Tahoe Rim Trail (TRT) ended at a cleared ski slope in Kingsbury South and continued “somewhere” north of Daggett Pass/Kingsbury Grade Hwy 207. Over the last years, combined efforts resulted into a trail system that connects the resort community of Kingsbury and Heavenly with Stateline and scenic landmarks of the Carson Range. A seven-mile-long hike (one way) through varyingly open forest from Kingsbury South (KB/S) to Castle Rock is an excellent way to explore the “wilderness around Kingsbury” and to enjoy the vistas of Lake Tahoe on a sunny and clear day. Although there are shorter hiking options to get to Castle Rock, I like this route since it offers multiple views of the targeted rock structure while approaching it.

This hike starts at the Kingsbury South trailhead kiosk with an easy 0.5-mile ascend to the TRT. Turning right at the post with the “flipped TRT letters,” a graded, 0.7-mile stretch takes you to the TRT/Van Sickle Trail  junction, from where a 2.9 descend—also enjoyed by mountain bikers—leads to the Kingsbury Grade Hwy 207 crossing.  Along this downhill path, with a short side-trip option to a vista point, you will follow several switchbacks. Further downhill you will step over a stream before continuing on a dirt road for a short time and then veer right onto the single-track TRT path to cross the highway pretty soon.

On the other side of Hwy 207, the TRT leads you uphill—for more than a mile—to the rock (shown on the left side above), near a residential area. Continuing north, you will get to two Castle Rock Trail junctions. Pass the first, right-turn junction and turn left at the second one to climb up to Castle Rock. The west-facing slope of the upper rock setting provides views over pine cone tips to Lake Tahoe and beyond. From the south side of the Castle Rock ridge, the open-space views of East Peak and the Van Sickle Bi-State Park are amazing. Some of the slightly slanted walls invite to a rock climbing exercise, assuming you brought the skills and equipment you need—and perhaps a magnifying glass to inspect the lichen cover.

Getting to the new Kingsbury South (KB/S) trailhead kiosk
See the descriptions in my Kingsbury South and East Lake Reservoir posts on how to get to the spacy KB/S parking area and the TRT-TH kiosk.

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