Hiking to Heart Lake — Mt. Shasta, CA

It's rare to get to experience several lakes and such scenic mountain views from just a short one mile hike. Although steep, the trail ends at a memorable vista with clear views of Mt. Shasta in the distance and Castle Lake below you. Highly recommended if you are looking for a short, scenic hike in the Shasta area!

 

Hike Info

Miles: 2.1 roundtrip
Elevation Change: 866 ft
Trail Type: Out and back
Trailhead: Google Maps
Cost: Free

Trail map from the parking lot at Castle Lake up to Heart Lake

Trail map from the parking lot at Castle Lake up to Heart Lake

Elevation profile for the 2.1 mile roundtrip hike

Elevation profile for the 2.1 mile roundtrip hike

 

The Hike

From the parking lot, there is a trail on right side of the Castle Lake that traverses the west side of the lake, giving great access to the lake. Castle Lake itself looked perfect for swimming and floating beneath a mountain backdrop. We saw several people SUPing and lounging on inner tubes.

From the parking lot we headed left and crossed a small stream to head up to Heart Lake. The trail immediately started climbing up and away from Castle Lake.

For only being a mile long, the trail up to Heart Lake is surprisingly and relentlessly steep. We raced up to catch the last rays of light before the sun set, and it took us about 40 minutes to get to the top.

The view from the top of a small hill east of Heart Lake

The view from the top of a small hill east of Heart Lake

Stunning views of Castle Lake and Mount Shasta

Stunning views of Castle Lake and Mount Shasta

Heart Lake itself is a lot smaller, shallower, and marshier. We didn't end up having time to go for a swim, but what makes the lake so unique is the outlet of the lake has a natural infinity-pool feel, with views of Mt. Shasta in the distance.

My favorite view - snowy Mt. Shasta towering over everything in sight

My favorite view - snowy Mt. Shasta towering over everything in sight

best-hikes-shasta-county-heart-lake
Watching the sky change colors as the sun set

Watching the sky change colors as the sun set

We saw a backpacking group had set up some hammocks and tents with the perfect view. There didn't seem to be too many spots to set up camp around the small pond, but I'd still come back for a short backpacking trip.

What an epic campsite.. will definitely need to make an overnight backpacking trip here!

What an epic campsite.. will definitely need to make an overnight backpacking trip here!

sunset-heart-lake-trail-shasta

After the sun set behind the mountains, we headed back down to our car. The hike back was all downhill and much quicker, it only took us about 30 minutes to get back to our car.

 

Other useful sites:
Hike Mt. Shasta
Outdoor Project
Fresh off the Grid