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The short climb to Heart Lake is a superb bang-for-your-buck hike.
A quick 1-mile ascent climbing less than 500 vertical feet brings you to a stunning alpine lake ringed by the iconic jagged, rocky peaks of the Sierra Nevada mountains.
This is the perfect spot for a picnic or an afternoon spent basking in the alpine sun! The trail is well-used and relatively non-technical, both of which create an easy route to follow to the lake.
Along the way, a few trails do branch off of the main route.
These lead to "ruins and the original mineshaft of the Depression-era Mammoth Consolidated Gold Mine (both worthwhile [side trips]),” according to [MammothTrails.org](https://www.mammothtrails.org/trail/64/heart-lake-trail/). While the route to Heart Lake is short and quite popular, it does enter the John Muir Wilderness, with the lake itself located in the Wilderness.
Despite the press of tourists that you encounter, it’s of paramount importance to practice Leave No Trace wilderness practices.
"Many archaeological and historic sites exist throughout the Inyo National Forest and on adjacent federal and state lands,” writes [MammothTrails.org](https://www.mammothtrails.org/trail/64/heart-lake-trail/).
"These sites are special places that contain irreplaceable information of our past and are protected by law.
Please take only photographs, leave only footprints, and report vandalism." Sources: https://www.mammothtrails.org/trail/64/heart-lake-trail/