The hike up to Heart Lake from the TH at Castle Lake (5,440') brought joy and excitement to our 16 hikers, many of whom were experiencing this hike for the first time. We had scouted and taken a small group up last summer, but this was our first time there with a large group.
The sky was clear and the weather was excellent for hiking, ranging in the 60s.
The drive down I-5 took 90 minutes and we arrived at the large but crowded lot at Castle Lake about 9:30. Hiking and camping are very popular in this part of the Trinity Mountains.
The trail for Heart Lake (6,050') heads south past the sign board and almost immediately has you crossing Castle Creek on step stones. Then the trail ascends up on the east side of Castle Lake through shady forests before switching back and up onto a sunny and rocky trail up to the lake. There are great views as you ascend first of Castle Lake (47 acres), then your first glimpses of Mt Shasta as you rise up on the trail.
Nearing Heart Lake you start to see patches of snow remaining from the long winter. These alpine lakes are fed by snowmelt which we could see and hear when we arrived at the heart shaped lake. There was a big patch of snow partially blocking the entrance down to Heart, so we took a side trail up to a knoll overlooking Heart. Making our way down we were greeted by great views of Shasta and Black Butte and Castle Lake 600' below.
We could hear running water like a small waterfall and soon were crossing a creek that was spilling extra water over a cliff holding up the north side of Heart Lake. Snow lined the south side of Heart and melted into the clear cold lake.
We arrived at Heart Lake at 11:00 am so we had plenty of time for exploring and relaxing. Jerry followed by Randy and Linda headed up the northwest side of the circ bowl to get an even better view of Shasta from the ridge. Others were spread around the 5 acre lake enjoying some rest and early lunch.
We stayed up at Heart for an hour before we began our trek back down.
There are a wide variety of wildflowers growing among the rocks.
We stopped at Yak's in Mt. Shasta City for refreshment, before heading back to Ashland.
Another great day on the trail!
Note: Next Monday we'll do the local hike out to Grouse Gap Shelter (Mt. Ashland).