January 3rd, 2012 - Heart Lake   -   2012/01/03Viewed 154 times this month, last update: 2012/01/05

Heart Lake Trail

Ice art

Me, enjoying the peace

After hiking to Duck Lake a couple of times, I wanted to visit another lake in the same valley, but on the other side of the river: Heart Lake .
Heart Lake is a short 1.5 mile, 600-foot hike from Cold Water Creek campground, but this time of year, the road is closed due to snow, so it was a 4-mile hike for me, mostly though snow covered trails. It was a cold and windy day, but the hike was a work-out, so the cold was quite comfortable while my body pumped out BTUs.
The hike from Lake Mary Road to the southern point of Cold Water Creek campground was a very pleasant walk along Cold Water Creek, through pine trees, old mining districts and ankle-deep snow.
From the usual trailhead , it is a 1.5-mile, 600-foot hike up the side of the mountain. As elevation is gained, Lake Mary comes into view, frozen over this time of year. Across the valley is Mammoth Crest and Crystal Crag, beautiful and imposing cliffs and spires.
Once out of the bottom of the valley, the trail crosses a grassy hillside, offering inspiring views of the valley, Lake Mary, Mammoth Mountain, the Minarets, and Mammoth Crest. Here the wind can try to knock you off your feet!
Heart Lake itself is a small lake, nestled in the mountain-side, and feeling very remote, until you look at your cell phone and see full signal! (Verizon anyway.) When I was there, the lake was frozen solid, with large slabs of ice smashed together along the shore line.

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