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Castle Lake

Shasta/Trinity National Forest

Mount Shasta + Medicine Lake Area, California

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Castle Lake

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  • Clear Morning from the boat launch.- Castle Lake
  • Morning light illuminating what lies just across the water.- Castle Lake
  • Looking up granite toward the Castle Lake Overlook and Castle Peak.- Castle Lake
  • Shoreline at Castle Lake.- Castle Lake
  • Crystal clear waters in the morning.- Castle Lake
  • Fallen trees submerged under the surface.- Castle Lake
  • Small meadow next to the picnic grounds before the trailhead.- Castle Lake
  • Lakeside cairn at Castle Lake.- Castle Lake
  • Castle Lake as viewed from the overlook.- Castle Lake
  • Leaning tree at the picnic area.- Castle Lake
  • Picnic table with a view.- Castle Lake
  • - Castle Lake
Overview + Weather
Pros: 
Large lake. Picnic area. Boat launch. Hiking trails.
Cons: 
Parking may fill up in peak season.
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Region:
Mount Shasta + Medicine Lake Area, CA
Congestion: 
Low
Parking Pass: 
Not Required
Current Local Weather:
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Adventure Description

Adventure Description

Contributor

Castle Lake is a wonderful spot to enjoy a hot summer day or evening and reap the benefits of outdoor life in Northern California.

The glacially formed lake and surrounding area offers a prime spot for water-based activities like flat water paddle sports, fishing and swimming. Originally the area was part of Shasta and Wintu Native American territory, and it lays not far from Battle Mountain, the site of a major  land war. To them, the lake was known as the "Castle of The Devil" due to the belief that an evil spirit inhabited the lake during the winter (now known to be shifting ice). Today it is studied by University of California, Davis, and the Forest Service.

The lake itself is roughly 50 acres, making it a good size for those that own kayaks and stand-up paddleboards to take quick and easy tour of the lake. Due to its smaller size, it is most commonly used for swimming, picnics, and by those staying at the Castle Lake Campground just a few hundred feet away. It is also a great option to cool off in after returning from the Castle Lake Trail system. The site is stunningly beautiful, especially in the morning when the lake is completely undisturbed and visitors can meditate on the pristine granite and evergreen reflections in the lake. The sides of Castle Lake are surrounded with beautiful granite slopes covered in brush and evergreens. From the picnic area you will be greeted with a wonderful view of Castle Peak. 

The picnic area does offer two tables and a moderate amount of flat and cleared ground for activities. The lakefront around the picnic area is also pretty flat, and it slowly dips into the lake, making it easy to wade out. The waters are crystal clear, with felled trees laying just below the surface. Because there is no sharp dropoff early on, this lake is welcoming, especially with increased visibility that allows you to stay aware anything below the water surface. 

You can also use the Castle Lake Trailhead to reach a few smaller lakes like Heart Lake and Little Castle Lake. Just beyond Heart Lake, is the infamous Castle Lake Overlook. If you have the time and energy, treat your eyes at sunset by trekking up to Castle Lake Overlook from the picnic area. From the trail, and especially Heart Lake and the Overlook, you will be able to see possibly one of the best views of Mount Shasta in the region.

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Updates, Tips + Comments

Field Guide + Map

Field Guide + Map

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Location + Directions

Location + Directions

Nearby Camping + Lodging

(5 within a 30 mile radius)

Nearby Adventures

(29 within a 30 mile radius)

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