Track download from Jerry: Castle Lake - Heart Lake 6-13-22.gpx
A new hike that had been in discussion since last year's visit to Siskiyou Lake was completed Monday to rave reviews from the participants. Like "it was my best hike ever ☺!"
We left Rite Aid at 8 AM under clouds, but we arrived 90 minutes later at Castle Lake (5,440') parking north of the Castle Crags to clearing wind-swept skies. The 7 mile Castle Lake Road is paved all the way to the lake .
The temperature at parking was 40 degrees with winds off the lake at 15 to 20 mph. So we all got busy donning as much wind and warmth protection as we could find. Still everyone was excited to head out on this new hiking adventure.
The new trail to Heart Lake (6,030') rises 600' from Castle Lake. Almost immediately, there's a tricky creek crossing that requires poles while balancing on rocks. Then it's a steady climb up with switchbacks through the forest, but breaks out on the rocky trail up to Heart ( not more than 2 miles ). You're heading south at first then turn west as you near Heart. Looking back you'll get breathtaking views of Mt. Shasta as you gain elevation.
Note: the weather is changeable up in the Castle Crags Wilderness; last Friday for our scouting hike, temps were mild in the 70s (Jerry went for a swim in Heart Lake!); but Monday with the wind it was mostly in the 40s.
Still we were all excited to arrive at the Heart shaped lake with many viewpoints to look out for views of majestic Shasta and Black Butte, and Castle Lake down below us😁.
After exploring around Heart, we were still eager to scout up a steep rocky trail that delivered us to the ridge that bends up and around south of Heart😊. Although it was windy, we had great views of Heart and Castle below and started to make future plans to explore the ridge top (6615') with views of the Castle Crags to the south and Shasta and Mt Eddy to the north.
Back at parking, we decided to take a brief walk along the shore of Siskiyou Lake Reservoir which is down at the main road (the 7.3 miles around Siskiyou will be another future hike).
Post hike refreshments on Friday were at the Mt. Shasta Resort Clubhouse across the road from Siskiyou, and at Yak's in Shasta City on Monday.
The hike was just 4 miles with about 775' of gain. More distance and gain can be added by hiking to the top of the ridge above Heart Lake; or by taking the branch trail to Little Castle Lake and the Mt Bradley lookout☺.