- Date hiked: 09/06/2020
- Hiked from: Wild Basin Trailhead
- Distance hiked: 6.4 miles – 1 way
- Total elevation gain: 2,640 ft
- Maintained trail: No
- Overall Difficulty: 7/10 – Route-finding is medium. Long hike from the Wild Basin Trailhead
- Overall Views: 8/10 – A nice hidden lake to visit while en route to Lion Lakes. Sitting below Mt Orton. Mt Alice, Pilot Mountain and Tanima Peak shape the landscape to the west.
Video of our Day Hike to Castle Lake
Castle Lake is truly a hidden gem located in the northwest section of the Wild Basin of Rocky Mountain National Park. It’s in the vicinity of Lion Lake #1, and can be reached by an off trail bushwhack approximately .3 miles off the Lion Lake #1 trail. We decided to hike to Castle Lake on our day hike back from Snowbank Lake.
Finding Castle Lake can be a bit tricky as its hidden behind a giant rock slab/bench and doesn’t come into view until you are right next to it. A live tracking GPS device can be extremely helpful when trying to make it to this less visited alpine lake.
About .2 miles before you reach the outlet of Lion Lake #1 head east. You will have to navigate through boulders and trees. I don’t remember the exact route we took but you can get an idea of our path by watching the video posted above as far as looking for landmarks.
Making the journey to this beautiful lake will offer you amazing mountain views of Pilot Mountain and Mount Alice. It’s shore is pebbled and sandy, surrounded by rocks and krummholz. There’s a flat boulder path shaped almost like a moat that will take you towards the center of the shallow lake.
We didn’t see any fish at Castle Lake as it’s not fed by any major stream or river. It’s still a great place to escape the crowds in Rocky Mountain National Park and have a picnic in pure solitude. You will likely be the only ones here should you decide to make the trek.
For photographers, Castle Lake offers many different vantage points with amazing foregrounds from the shallow rocks and pebbled shorelines that surround the lake. If your looking for a portfolio worthy photograph of an alpine lake that hasn’t been photographed thousands of times, this is a good spot to make one that stands out.