The National Forest Service announced that it has acquired a popular hiking destination in the Mount Shasta area, adding it to the Castle Crags Wilderness.
Heart Lake and a portion of Castle Lake are part of the 637 acres acquired to the Forest Service land, which will improve public access and enhance recreation opportunities in the area. The lakes, which sit just a short drive from Mt. Shasta, are popular for hikers, bikers, skiers and kayakers in the area. The trail to Heart Lake recently received a facelift from the Mount Shasta Trail Association, but it remains unclear how the trails will be managed under the new ownership.
Here is the full announcement from the U.S. Forest Service:
On September 25, 2021 USDA Forest Service, the Shasta-Trinity National Forest and its local partners celebrated adding 637 acres to the National Forest System (NFS) lands adjacent to Castle Lake. The new lands consolidate NFS lands in the Castle Lake area. The acquisition improves public access, promotes shared stewardship, leverages partnerships and volunteerism, enhances recreation opportunities, connects people to the outdoors, and fosters resilient ecosystems.
The land acquisition is the result of a long effort that dates back to 1968. In 2019, a major milestone was hit when the Wilderness Land Trust (WLT) acquired the parcel from private holders. Leveraging federal Land and Water Conservation Funds, the United States purchased the lands from WLT. The land acquisition includes newly constructed trail connecting Castle Lake to Heart Lake, a portion of Castle Lake itself, and adds approximately 400 acres to the Castle Crags Wilderness. The Castle Lake area can be accessed year-round thanks to plowing by the Siskiyou County Department of Public Works and can be used for recreation activities such as fishing, swimming, hiking, back packing, camping, hunting, cross country skiing, snow shoeing, ice fishing and ice skating.
The Shasta-Trinity National Forest looks forward to working with its partners to maintain the new trail and educate the public about responsible wilderness use.
A special thanks to the Wilderness Land Trust, Siskiyou Land Trust, Siskiyou County Board of Supervisors, and Mt. Shasta Trail Association for making this project possible.
Here’s our hike to Heart Lake:
And here’s our ice fishing trip to Castle Lake: