Castle Lake is a 47 acre glacial lake located high in the Eddy Mountains west of Mt. Shasta, perfect for fishing, swimming, hiking, paddleboarding, kayaking and skating. In good winters, the lake plays host to ice fishermen and ice skaters. Formed by glaciers 10,000 years ago, Castle Lake is held by a pine-covered granite bowl and is 120 feet deep next to a steep rock wall. Above the lake are the beautiful lofty spires of Castle Crags State Park. The drive up to the lake also affords stunning views of Mt. Shasta, and the parking area at the lake affords close lake access for kayakers, where there’s a four-foot hand launch. Castle Lake is a must-see for outdoor adventurers in northern California.
How Do You Get to Castle Lake?
Visitors can both hike and drive to Castle Lake. Driving access is via the paved Castle Lake Road starting in the town of Mt. Shasta. The road is not always open so be sure to check the latest conditions (see below).
How Long is Castle Lake Hike?
The Castle Lake Trail is 10.6 miles long out-and-back. The hike is considered slightly challenging, but is still a very popular trail. Year after year, the Castle Lake Trail draws more visitors than any other route in the area, and for good reason.
The Castle Lake Trail serves as a great introduction to the Trinity Alps and Mt. Shasta area. It is also a great day experience when taken in tandem with a hike up to Heart Lake that originates at Castle Lake.
Can You Fish in Castle Lake?
This north-facing cirque has easy access to North, West, and East-facing aspects allowing skiable terrain to be found in most snow conditions. When the lake is frozen, which is much of the winter, it is very easy to do laps that start and end at your car with the ability of doing over 1000 vertical feet in one run! The wide variety of terrain also means that there is almost always avalanche danger in the area.
The type of fish you’ll find in Castle Lake are gold shiners, brook and rainbow trout. Castle Lake has never been stocked. All trout are produced wild. The best baits to use are salmon eggs, roe, mini-crawlers, red worms and bright-colored power bait. Ice fishing during the winter is also very popular.
Camping Near Castle Lake
Approximately ¼ mile below Castle Lake you will find Castle Lake Campground. This small campground offers 6 sites with tables, fire rings and vault toilets, nestled in a thick mixed conifer forest. Bring your own water. There is no fee or reservations, but there is a 3-night limit.
Typically campground opens around the end of May and closes the first of November, depending on snowfalls and melts. Visit Castle Lake Campground website for more details and to see if it’s open.
Check Castle Lake Conditions
Since Castle Lake can be prone to varying weather conditions, especially during winter, it is always recommended to check with the Mt. Shasta Forest Service Ranger office before visiting. You can call them at (530) 926-4511 for the latest road, trail and ice conditions. Visit the Forest Services website to see if Castle Lake Road is open.