Castle Lake to Heart Lake Trail - Hiking

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About

Summary

Featuring epic Mt. Shasta views and awesome swimming holes, the Castle Lake to Heart Lake Trail is a must-see in Mt. Shasta.

Written by

Shawn Lehman

Distance

3.0 miles

Destination Distance From Downtown

45.6 miles

Difficulty

3 of 5 diamonds

This 3 mile round-trip hike features a 1,175-ft elevation gain and a steep, rocky path. Light scrambling is required in some areas. Trekking poles are recommended for additional stability.

Time To Complete

2 hours

Although the distance is short, the path requires more attention due to the unstable rocks, tree roots, and required scrambling. Also, the trail doesn't open until early summer so the weather can be in high 80s to mid 90s. Completion time includes plenty of water and photo breaks.

Seasonality

Summer and Fall

Due to snow coverage, the trail is unintelligible in the spring and winter. Contacting the ranger station for trail conditions is highly recommended.

Dog Friendly

No

The terrain is extremely rocky and light scrambling is required in some areas of the trail.

Fees Permits

No

Review

Intro

Showcasing epic views of Mt. Shasta, Black Butte and Castle Lake, Heart Lake is one of Northern California’s most scenic destinations. For relatively little effort, this 3-mile out-and-back trail treats hikers to some of the best landscape available in the Trinity Divide. The area is a popular destination for hikers and backpackers. Other recreational activities including kayaking, swimming, and fishing are available just north at Castle Lake. After a fun day of exploring, visitors can check out the eclectic shops and eateries in the town of Mt. Shasta.

What Makes It Great

Heart Lake is located directly south of Castle Lake. Marked by large boulders, the Castle Lake trailhead begins at the south end of the parking lot. After crossing a very small stream, the trail begins a moderate climb to the east of Castle Lake. Rocky and riddled with tree roots, the narrow path continues on for about 0.5 miles offering lake views along the way.

About 400 feet above Castle Lake, hikers will arrive at a saddle where there are three trails. The middle trail is the path to Heart Lake. The right trail leads to a wide vista offering panoramic views of Castle Lake. Previous hikers have created small piles of rocks along the far right and left trails to help guide others to Heart Lake.  

After the saddle, the trail opens up to a wide, rocky meadow. Hikers will continue west to Mt. Bradley Ridge. Just over the ridge, the trail makes a short descent to the little, but lovely Heart Lake. From here, hikers can enjoy expansive views of Mt. Shasta and Castle Lake. Creating the heart shape, a boulder jetting out into the lake makes a perfect spot for sunbathing and taking in the amazing scenery.

Who is Going to Love It

This trail is perfect for hikers and backpackers of all calibers. Please note, the path is extremely rocky with a lot of tree roots. Trekking poles are highly recommended. A small amount of scrambling is required in some areas. The majority of the trail is exposed so hikers should bring sunscreen, a hat and water.

Directions, Parking, & Regulations

From Redding, follow I-5 N for 58 miles. Take the Central Mt. Shasta exit. Turn left and then go south on South Old Stage Road. Veer right onto W.A. Barr Road and drive 2.6 miles. After crossing the dam, Castle Lake Road will be on the left. Follow the paved road for 7.1 miles and arrive at the parking area.

Parking is free.

Dogs are not recommended on this trail.

Location

Castle Lake to Heart Lake Trail

41.227695, -122.388028

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