Heart Lake is located directly above Castle Lake in Northern California, in proximity to the city of Mount Shasta. This short, 2.2-mile hike offers astonishing views of Mount Shasta, Black Butte and Castle Lake. Castle Lake itself is worth a stop when road access allows it. The crystal-clear water is a perfect temperature for swimming on a hot summer day and a popular stand-up paddle board spot. There are a few campsites on the shores of Castle Lake, as well as one rumored to be near Heart Lake.
Heart lake is more of a big pond than a lake, but it is definitely worth the hike. To get there, follow the Little Castle Lake trail on the eastern ridge of the Castle Lake. Once you are over the tree line and passing though rocks, start heading south or above the Castle Lake headboard. You will find Heart Lake just over a mile from the beginning of the trail. The Pacific Crest Trail is only a half mile away, although access from Heart Lake may be tricky. The area is rich in wildflowers in June and July, and it is recommended to hike before August to avoid the season's wildfire smoke in the Shasta valley.
For those brave enough, head to the top of the ridge above Heart Lake for amazing views of the surrounding area and the north side of Castle-Crags. Restrooms are in the parking lot at Castle Lake. Be sure to bring plenty of water and have fun!