A well-known Bitterroot landmark, Castle Crag (8,984’) is easily recognizable from many places in the valley. But because it is such a long way from the trailhead, few are willing to invest the effort required for such a lengthy trek.
The most-easily recognizable feature of Castle Crag is its sheer 500+ foot vertical east face. Offering excellent views of the surrounding summits in addition to Sheafman, Mill, and Fred Burr canyons, it ranks as one of the best Bitterroot climbs.
The easiest route (Class 2+) begins at the Sheafman Creek Trailhead and follows the long-established trail to Knaack Lake. From the lake, go off-trail southwest over a boulder field to the base of the obvious talus-strewn gully which climbs from the southwest corner of the lake toward the rim of Castle Crag’s southeast ridge.
Gain the ridge-crest at a small notch directly south of Aichele Lake. Turn northwest and follow the ridge-crest toward the summit. Pass below (west of) two large fins which guard the crest of the ridge. After clearing the second fin, the top of which is the summit, turn right (east) and climb stable talus and boulders to the summit.—Michael Hoyt