Heart and Castle Lakes Hike, Shasta County


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.

Google Map Link


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.

The visit:

This small-sized 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 one way):

From Castle 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.

Overall, from 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 Shasta.

Most people, as I did, are going back down on the same trail I went up.

Overall, this 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: