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Castle Rock Re-Opened — by Kalie Wertz

This rocky peaklet is one of the focal points when you scan the Wenatchee Foothills. There it sits, locked between Number 1 Canyon and Number 2 Canyon, for the eye to settle upon. Despite its

Castle Rock is the rock outcrop in the foreground. The higher peak in the background (called Chopper) connects to Castle Rock via a steep east-facing ridge.

prominence and central position, for many years Castle Rock had fallen short as a hiking destination because access to its crown had been sealed off for more than a decade by private property issues.The uber successful Foothills Campaign run by the Chelan-Douglas Land Trust (CDLT) changed all that. In the latter part of 2013, the CDLT purchased property on the lower edge of Castle Rock so that residents and visitors alike could access this local landmark. On top of that, during the last half of 2014, the Land Trust built new trails connecting the cul-de-sac at the western end of Castlerock Avenue to the top of this volcanic intrusion. A new trailhead, complete with a picnic structure, parking for 7 or 8 vehicles, and a vault toilet was also built by the CDLT in the autumn of 2014.

Looking north toward the Sage Hills from Castle Rock.

If you haven’t paid a visit yet, there are fresh trails to visit. In 2015 plans are afoot with the Land Trust to build a trail up Chopper, the larger peak behind Castle Rock.

DETAILS, DETAILS: Visiting Castle Rock

Allowed
: Hiking an trail running.

Not Allowed:
–Mountain bikes and horses are not allowed on any of these trails.
–Dogs (on leash) are allowed on the lower trails belonging to the city but not on the private property up higher containing Castle Rock proper. Signage marks the boundary between city and private property boundary and people with dogs need to turn around here.
–If you encounter people with dogs beyond the boundary, politely inform them that they are violating the landowner’s wishes and jeopardize everyone’s access to Castle Rock.
Also not allowed: fires, after-dark use, cross-country travel.

Maps: Lower Castle Rock

Nearest Town: Wenatchee

Skill Level: 1
Fitness Level: 2

Continued access to the area will depend on the public abiding by the landowner’s wishes.

Distance: 1.2 miles (one way) to the top of Castle Rock.

Elevation: About 750 vertical feet to the top of Castle Rock; 1450 feet to the top of Chopper.

Recommended Season: Spring, summer (early and late in the day), and fall. As of the summer of 2014, the wintertime status of the trails has yet to be determined. The trails in the Sage Hills close on December 1 to benefit of mule deer that winter over in our foothills.
As of December 2014, these trails were remaining open for winter use, but, please stay off them after rains or whenever the trail surface is muddy and you’re leaving footprints deeper than 1/4-inch deep. If the landowers feel winter use is damaging the trails, they may close them in winter.

Access: From the intersection of Western Avenue and Castlerock Avenue in Wenatchee, head west (uphill) on Castlerock Avenue. Follow Castlerock Avenue for 0.3 miles as it snakes uphill. Park at the end of the road at the trailhead built here in autumn of 2014. There’s a picnic structure and vault toilet at the trailhead.

The top of Castle Rock provides great views in all directions.

Trip Instructions Starting at the trailhead at the end of Castlerock Avenue, head southwest on the trail until reaching a fork in the trail. One path continues southwest; the other heads more northwest. Following either trail will eventually lead you to the same point, just in different directions. Refer to the map to note the variations. Lower Castle Rock is more ideal for trail running, but once the trail turns toward the Upper Castle Rock, the trail becomes steeper, more slippery, and quite difficult to run. To reach the viewpoint at the top of Castle Rock, please stay on the main trails. There are quite a number of older, steeper trails that are being decommissioned because they are too steep and erode badly when it rains.

Land Ownership: The 35 acres of property for the lower trails and for the trailhead providing access to Castle Rock were originally purchased by the Chelan-Douglas Land Trust (CDLT). In spring of 2014, this property was turned over to the City of Wenatchee who now manages this as a natural area. The Land Trust has legal authority to protect the natural resources of the area and to enforce public access.
The upper half of the trails (and Castle Rock itself) is privately owned by people who have graciously allowed the public to visit their property. If users are not good stewards, if they do not keep the area clean, if they wander off-trail, or if they use the property in ways that violate the landowner’s wishes, the trails license for Castle Rock can easily be revoked.

Fees/Permits: None

Reporter: Kalie Wertz 07/02/14. Updated: 12/27/2014, 5/14/2015.

Burch Mountain as seen while hiking Castle Rock.

Leave It Better Than You Found It. This should be every outdoor user’s goal. Pick up trash left by others, pull some noxious weeds along your route, don’t ride or walk wet trails when you’re leaving ruts/footprints deeper than ¼ inch, and do not wander cross-country (stay on the trails).

Disclaimer.
 Treat this information as recommendations, not gospel. Conditions change, and those contributing these reports are volunteers–they may make mistakes or may not know all the issues affecting a route.You are still completely responsible for your decisions, your actions, and your safety. If you can’t live with that, you are prohibited from using our information.

This post was originally published on 7/11/14.

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