This is a relatively short hike across a very nice valley, leading to Castle Pass. The view from the pass is very wide, ranging from Donner Pass, Mount Judah, Mount Disney, and to the West, the region around Lola Montez Lakes. To the East, Castle Peak dominates the view, and it can be reached from the pass. In Winter, this hike can be done with snowshoes or alpine skis.
Trailhead: The hike starts from the Highway 80 exit at Donner Pass. Once you take the exit, turn 90 degrees to go South of the highway (you will have to cross under the highway via the underpass if you come from Truckee), then take the road that flanks the South side of the highway in the direction of Truckee (East) for a couple of hundred yards. You will reach a place where you can park; in Winter, you may need a SnoPark permit, which can be bought for instance at the Truckee Ace Hardware.
Hike: Once parked, walk back to the highway interconnect, and cross below Highway 80 using the underpass. Once on the North side of Highway 80, pass the highway ramp, and you will see the trail straight ahead: the trail turns right immediately after the highway ramp, heading first East flanking the highway. After a couple of hundred yards, the trail turns North, and enters the Upper Castle Creek valley. The trail is on the East side of the creek, and will ascend gradually to Castle Pass.