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Hiking Castle Lake Offers Inspiring Views

By Dan Shepler | 07/31/2018 Great Outdoors, Lakes, Trails

One of the most beautiful views in all of California is from the top of Castle Lake. Nestled in the mountains with a gap on the northern end that opens to a vista of the mighty Mt. Shasta. When the sun sets, it lights up the mountain with such incredible colors that John Muir himself could not put it into words. It is the kind of view that will totally change your perspective and put Northern California towards the top on your list of most beautiful places you’ve ever been.

The trailhead is at the base of the lake and has plenty of parking along with restrooms you can use before venturing out. The 2-mile hike to Little Castle Lake will have you climbing 1,200 feet and is best to go in summer and fall. (Scroll down to see directions.) The hike itself is worth the trip even without the grand finale spectacle. The trail follows the lake right at the start before breaking off and starting the climb. There are several spots where the big coniferous trees kindly offer up glimpses at the lake from different perspectives. 

Once you get about halfway up, the trail comes out of the woods into a rocky area where can see the top. Keep going until you get to where you have to stop and take in what’s around you. It is tempting to stop every few feet and look at the scenery, but I highly recommend getting close to the top before stopping.

If you want to hike up to see the sunset, you’ll want to get to the trailhead about an hour beforehand so you can get to the top to watch the show. The trail is easy, but be sure to bring headlamps or flashlights to help you navigate your way back down. If you have never hiked Castle Lake you have to make it a priority this summer. If you have hiked it, do it again and get inspired! Remind yourself of how amazing this world is. It is here for us to enjoy. Get out and explore Up Sate CA!


From Redding, follow I-5 N for 58 miles. Take the Central Mt. Shasta exit. Turn left and then go south on South Old Stage Road. Veer right onto W.A. Barr Road and drive 2.6 miles. After crossing the dam, Castle Lake Road will be on the left. Follow the paved road for 7.1 miles and arrive at the parking area. Parking is free.

About the Author/photographer: Dan Shepler is a local creative with a passion for the outdoors and the area. His work has taken him all over the world to see some incredible things through the eye of a lens. When not working, you can find him on the water somewhere with a fly rod in hand. To learn more about Dan or to see some of his work, visit All photos belong to Dan Shepler in partnership with Visit Redding.

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