What? : A small-sized
heart-shaped lake located above Castle Lake near Mount Shasta. A short but highly rewarding 1.3 miles hike (800 feet elevation gain) climb up from Castle Lake will bring
you to the high ridge with a clear view of Mt. Shasta and Castle Lake below you.
One of my most recommended
hike in this area.
This location is part of my "North California Waterfall Loop" road-trip suggestion.
Where? : Heart Lake is
located in the Castle Crags Wilderness. To get to Castle Lake Parking: Take exit
from highway I5, take exit 783 near Shasta, head west to W. Lake St, on S. Old
Stage Rd take left (south), after crossing Lake Siskiyou Box Canyon Dam, turn
left up onto Nay Spring Road that get into Castle Lake Road. Continue another
7.1 miles all the way to the end of the road and Castle Lake parking. The Heart
Lake trailhead is on the left side of the parking.
When? : Year round, the
road to Castle Lake is plowed in winter. The shallow Heart Lake may be frozen, and
you should plan for a bad stormy and snowy weather, come prepared.
Due note 1: No permit is
required to hike Faery Fall trail and access is free.
Due note 2: Dogs are also
able to use this trail.
Due note 3: Heart Lake is
not so much for swimming, it is shallow large pond, if you want to swim than Castle
Lake is the lake for you.
Due note 4: This is
relatively popular hike but if you will plan for late afternoon / sunset timing
there will be less people over here.
Due note 5: As of June
2021, the Mount Shasta Trail Association updated and rerouted the trail to
Heart Lake. Please stick to the new
well-defined trail and help conserving this are.
Due note 6: When visiting
here I saw people that are coming for overnight backpacking, not sure if you
need a permit or not. There are only few tant spots on the rocks near the lake.
Due note 7: after you Castle
and Heart Lakes visit when driving down the road stop after 1.4 mile at the
road carve, this is one of the best Mount Shasta viewpoints from the car.
My thoughts: I really like visiting
Heart Lake, late afternoon is my preferred timing where the sunlight is falling
on Mount Shasta, morning sunrise is also an option.
The view from this location
is one of the best Mount Shasta views. This is uphill trail but relatively short
so anyone can do it, even kids.
heart-shaped lake located in the Castle Crags Wilderness of Shasta-Trinity
National Forest just above Castle Lake.
Castle Lake is
relatively larger mountain lake nested below impressive granite cliffs, it is
good for swimming and kayaking.
The hike to Heart Lake (1.2-mile-long
Lake parking lot, there is a trail that starts on far-left side it starts at
the west side of the lake, immediately you will cross the small stream, usually
without wetting your shoes. From here the trail started climbing up and away
from Castle Lake.
Last time I visit
here, at Nov. 2021, I notice the change in the hiking route, the Mount Shasta
Trail Association updated and rerouted the trail going to Heart Lake. I think
that the new rout is better, well-marked and protect the environment, Well done
for their work!
Please stick to
the new well-defined trails and help conserving this are.
You will climb
through the forest but soon you will get into open landscape, the last climb
section will be in an open rocky section where the trail turns right (more to
the north). Soon you will cross a small hill on your right and immediately see
the Heart Lake below you.
The trail turns
to the right and cross the small outlet of the lake.
the starting point this is a constant climb up and the 1.2-mile-long hike up
here will take you 40-60 min.
The view is amazing,
Mount Shasta to the northeast, Black Butte to the north and the mountain ridge
to the west, from this exact spot you can’t see Castel Lake.
It is highly recommended
to circle the lake to the other side below the boulders, from this side of the
lake looking at the lake outlet and you will have “infinity-pool” look, on a
calm day you will get a perfect reflection of Mt. Shasta in the water.
From here, it
is highly recommended to keep hiking additional 0.2 mile to the top of the rock,
keep hiking after the lake, the trail finds its way to the right and to the
cliff edge. Here the shire cliffs above Castel Lake and the rocky point provide
the best viewing experience.
From the rocky viewing
point there is an option to keep climbing to Castel Mountain and the ridge
above you. This will provide a view on heart lake, Castel Lake and Mount
Most people, as I did,
are going back down on the same trail I went up.
is around 2.5-mile-long hike, one of the best hikes in the area of Mount Shasta
that provides amazing view and excellent all family real but doable hiking experience.
Pictures from July 2020 trip:
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