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· North Bend, WA
4,814 Posts
Directions to Castle have already been covered on the forum. Use the search utility, search on Castle. Beyond that some more background on Castle including a report came in from one of the gracious members who just went.


1. Directions: Tough to find the trailhead. It is just under 25 miles of gravel logging roads. We ripped our oil pan off the first try in. If you drive slowly and do not take any wrong turns we timed it at a little over 2 hours on the logging road(s) just to get to the trailhead from downtown Toutle. Get a Weyerhaeuser map, but beware as they have changed some of the road numbers. See Gary Brault at Toutle River Fly Shop for directions and gear.

2. Hike: There are two trails in. The first and longest is close to ten miles. The trailhead is at Sheep Canyon. The second shorter route is just under 4 miles and very steep, about 2000' of elevation. You need to be in very good physical condition as the trail is straight down on the way in, and straight up on the way back. (This is not an understatement - our group included a former college soccer player, a triathlete, a track and cross country runner, and a cyclist and we all thought it was a difficult hike.) You also need to stay on the trail - apparently three people have perished trying to get to the lake by trying to take a "shortcut", and another man was airlifted out by Medivac in June.

3. Camping: There are limited camp sites on or around the lake because of the steep canyon walls. Plan on staying there overnight unless you are an aerobic superman and can hike in and out on the same day.

4. Fishing: My impression is that the rumors about the fishing are highly exaggerated. Castle Lake fishes like an alpine lake - in another words, the fish are not that well fed and are fairly undiscriminatory as to what they take. They are also not as big as some of the reports I have read. The average fish is 11-13", with the few exceptions over 15". We saw none over 16", from our group or anyone else on the lake. The fish all have fairly large heads, a sure sign of low available food mass and slow growth rates. I also quizzed some of the locals who had fished the lake extensively - they have never seen a fish over 17" from Castle. (Coldwater Lake a few miles away is a different story, larger fish are quite common there.)

Fishing seemed a little slow judging from the results of the other folks on the lake. We were fairly successful, and took fish on dries in the mornings and evenings, and also by going deep with buggers and damsel type patterns.

In summary - (and I hate to pierce the shroud of mystique that surrounds Castle) - it is a nice experience if you enjoy backpacking, but if you are going just for the fishing you may be disappointed. For the same 7-8 hours in total journey time and effort it takes to get to Castle from Seattle, you could be fishing Chopaka, or any of the Kamloops area lakes in BC and catch larger and more fish
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