Heart Lake Trail

Difficulty
This reflects the 10Adventures difficulty rating for each route. We aim to keep ratings consistent across regions.
Moderate
Duration
This reflects the estimated time the majority of users will take on this trail. If you are slower, add time to the top-end figure. If you are fast, then you may complete this route faster than this time range.
1.5-2h
Distance
This reflects the return distance of this route as measured by the GPS file.
3.9 km
Elevation
This reflects the total elevation gained throughout this route as measured by the GPS file. This includes all ascents and descents, and is higher than what is quoted in most route guides, which simply measure the distance between the starting-point and high-point of the route.
248 m
User Ratings
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Directions to Trailhead
Heart Lake Trail

The Heart Lake Trail is a picturesque adventure in the Shasta National Forest that intermediate hikers and families with older children can enjoy, year-round. Explore a glacial cirque, climbing up to the charming lake that offers commanding vistas of Mount Shasta and the Klamath Mountains.

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Route Description for Heart Lake Trail

The alpine terrain awaits exploration, and the Heart Lake Trail boasts the perfect opportunity to do just that. This versatile trek beckons intrepid adventurers year-round! The summer months see the ideal opportunity to swim in the heart-shaped lake. Note the terrain up to the divide is exposed; check the forecast prior to your adventure, and dress accordingly! Though this path is well-loved, it is yet to be signposted, so adventurers will be directed by rock cairns, which can be hard to follow when the path is snow-cloaked. For easy navigation, we encourage hikers to download the trail GPS prior to their adventure.

Indulge in the beauty of the Shasta National Forest along the Heart Lake Trail. This stunning backcountry adventure is unrivaled in its beauty, offering sights of not one but two glittering lakes. Get a workout in and reward yourself with demanding views of Mount Shasta and the Klamath Mountains.

Open year-round; hikers can enjoy the majestic scenery in the winter months alike. Strap on a pair of microspikes or snowshoes after a snowfall to safely navigate the vertiginous terrain. If you can, we encourage you to head out before dawn with a headlamp to enjoy the sunrise over the mountainous landscape. Don’t forget to charge your camera, the picturesque scenery warrants countless photo opportunities.

Embark on your adventure along the Heart Lake Trail from the Castle Lake Trailhead off Castle Lake Road. Setting out from here, the Castle Lake Trail travels east over the Castle Lake Creek before diverting south along the eastern shore of Castle Lake. Wandering along the shoreline of the glacial lake, you will be overwhelmed by the views of the bounding craggy granite cliffs decorated with lush conifers. The crystalline waters mirror the surroundings on a calm day, offering a picture-perfect scene. Gradually traveling up an incline, the climb will intensify as it diverts you away from the waters.

Beyond this point, the path will become more primitive and difficult to follow. Using the trail GPS or following the rock cairns, the route will ascend the rocky meadows and up to several switchbacks. As you climb, be sure to admire the scene of Castle Lake below. Eventually, you will reach a saddle—veer right here, and you will be diverted onto the Heart Lake Trail. Trekking west, you will ultimately reach the shores of the heart-shaped lake. Admire the charm of Heart Lake and rejuvenate your tired feet in the chilly waters. Continue hiking west up to an overlook that affords jaw-dropping panoramas of Mount Shasta looming in the northeast. Admire the astonishing vistas, and when you are ready, carefully retrace your steps back to the trailhead. ​

Frequently Asked Questions

Can you swim in Heart Lake?

Yes, Heart Lake is a charming lake overlooking the Cascade Mountain Range.

Can you hike up to Heart Lake?

Yes, there is a 3.9 km out-and-back hike in the Shasta National Forest.

How do I get to Heart Lake?

Heart Lake is located near Mount Shasta, off Castle Lake Road.

Insider Hints for Heart Lake Trail

  • Download the trail GPS as the path is only marked by cairns
  • Wear a sturdy pair of footwear as the terrain is rocky and uneven
  • In the winter months, a pair of snowshoes or microspikes are needed
  • Dress in layers as insurance against changing conditions
  • Charge your camera, the views from the lake are picture perfect!

Getting to the Heart Lake Trail Trailhead

The Heart Lake Trail departs from the Castle Lake Trailhead off Castle Lake Road.

Route Information

  • Backcountry Campground

    No

  • When to do

    Year-round

  • Pets allowed

    Yes - On Leash

  • Family friendly

    Older Children only

  • Route Signage

    Poor

  • Crowd Levels

    High

  • Route Type

    Out and back

Heart Lake Trail Elevation Graph

Weather Forecast

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Heart Lake Trail Reviews

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