Length: 6.0 miles round trip
High Point: 6050 feet
Elevation Gain: 950 feet
When to Hike: mid-May to late October, depending on snow cover
Controlling Agency: Mount Shasta Ranger Station, Shasta-Trinity National Forest, 204 West Alma, Mount Shasta, CA 96067; (530) 926-4511
Special Features: stunning views of the north side of Castle Crags; swimming opportunities at Castle Lake; exploring Little Castle Lake
Directions to the Trailhead: Reach the Central Mount Shasta exit off I-5. Head west and then south on South Old Stage Road and continue south on W. A. Barr Road. After 2.6 miles, cross the dam at Lake Siskiyou and then turn left .2 mile farther. Travel the paved road 7.1 miles to the parking area bordering Castle Lake.
Description and Comments: Read the signboards at the south end of the parking area to gain a better understanding of the natural history of Castle Lake. Also consider taking a dip in the clear and cold waters, your main swimming opportunity of the hike. Head east and cross the lake’s outlet stream and climb .6 mile to a saddle. Note the unmarked trail heading south that leads to Heart Lake (described in a separate entry) and pass a small trailside pond. Descend .4 mile to reach a meadow. Take the side trail to the right to explore the environs of shallow Little Castle Lake. The trail undulates another two miles through more meadow shady red fir forest before reaching Mount Bradley Ridge, the end of this hike. It is a worthwhile destination: enjoy the views of Castle Crags, Mount Shasta, and an endless vista of range and valley. Note that two other hikes, Heart Lake and Castle Lake, are described in separate entries.
Maps: USFS Castle Crags Wilderness. Click to view area map at topozone.com