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!
This is my favorite short hike in the Shasta area and is included as a must-do in my blog post on planning a weekend trip to Mt. Shasta. Alternatively, if you're visiting this area in the winter, click here to read my recommendations for things to do in this area in the off season!
Miles: 2.1 roundtrip
Elevation Change: 866 ft
Trail Type: Out and back
Trailhead: Google Maps
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.
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.
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.
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.