Little Castle Lake and Mount Bradley Ridge lie above Castle Lake and beyond the turnoff to Heart Lake. They make a great hike, and you may have the trail all to yourself.
Little Castle Lake and Mount Bradley Ridge
Stephanie and I (and our twelve-year-old golden retriever Molly) were blessed with a perfect late September day for hiking on Saturday. So we began at Castle Lake near Mount Shasta, where Molly went swimming after sticks. (I count that as a bath; Stephanie doesn’t.)
Our destination: Little Castle Lake and Mount Bradley Ridge. I hadn’t visited these places recently, and I’d heard the path was a bit overgrown. We did have a bit of vegetation against our legs on the drop down to Little Castle Lake, but it was no big deal.
Little Castle Lake
Mount Bradley Ridge
Things didn’t improve just past Little Castle Lake. However, several rock piles got us through the initial confusing area, and from then on it was smooth sailing, though a bit of manzanita and huckleberry oak intruded on the path.
The highlight was Mount Bradley Ridge. What a view of the north side of Castle Crags, crowned by Castle Spire, the prominent horn that dominates Castle Crags Wilderness. Steph and Molly and I tarried here, taking in the precipitous granite cliffs in the Crags and the first hints of autumn color in the shrubs.
You can do this hike until the first major snow comes, likely some time in November. The trail leaves from the east (left) side of Castle Lake near Mount Shasta and runs about 2 miles to Mount Bradley Ridge. Follow the main trail all the way, especially when you reach a saddle at .6 mile; you’ll stay straight as two or three side-paths head right toward Heart Lake.