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Lake Valhalla in Washington

A scenic lake tucked between Lichtenberg Mountain and Mount McCausland

Lake Valhalla
Lake Valhalla

Lake Valhalla is a beautiful glacial lake in the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest, Washington. The lake is located just off the popular Pacific Crest Trail. The 7-mi (10-km) out and back trail to Lake Valhalla can be accessed from either nearby Stevens Pass or Smith Brook Road located on the Pacific Crest Trail. The scenic lake at an elevation of 5,050 ft (1,500 m) is surrounded by Lichtenberg Mountain and Mount McCausland. The best time to hike there is snowless season from June through October. In June look for wildflowers, in August—for huckleberries, and in October—for beautiful fall colors. In the winter months the trail requires snowshoes.

To get to the trailhead for Lake Valhalla drive from Stevens Pass on US 2 east for 6 miles and then drive west from Mill Creek for about a mile. Then turn right onto Smith Brook Road. You'll reach the Smithbrook Trailhead in about 2.8 miles. It takes about two hours to drive from Seattle to the trailhead. Northwest Forest Pass is required for parking.

The Smithbrook trail starts with a series of switchbacks and then wind up to Union Gap where it reaches the Pacific Crest Trail. From there hike southwards until you reach the gap between Mount McCausland and Mount Lichtenberg where you can glimpse at Lake Valhalla. Just before the gap, there is a boot trail up the ridge to a lookout site at Mount McCausland. Some 600 feet of steep climbing will bring you to the top where you will be rewarded with great views of Glacier Peak to the north.

After passing over the gap, descend to Lake Valhalla. There are several overnight campsites and a few backcountry toilets at the lake. Keep in mind that campfires are not permitted in the area. There is also a pleasant sandy beach at the lake, which is perfect for a picnic and relaxing in the warm summer months.

Practical info

When is the best time to visit Lake Valhalla?

Lake Valhalla is best explored from June through October. During these months, you can experience wildflowers, huckleberries, and beautiful fall colors. It's important to note that hiking the area during winter months will require the use of snowshoes. Show more

Where is Lake Valhalla located within Washington?

Lake Valhalla rests within the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest, located right off the Pacific Crest Trail in Washington. You can begin your journey to this lake from Stevens Pass or Smith Brook Road. The trailhead will be about 2.8 miles away from the Smithbrook Trailhead. Show more

How long does it take to hike to Lake Valhalla?

The out-and-back trail to Lake Valhalla takes about two hours to drive to from Seattle. The trail begins with switchbacks and climbs up to Union Gap, where it meets the Pacific Crest Trail. If you continue toward the area between Mount McCausland and Mount Lichtenberg, you'll encounter Lake Valhalla, which is 7 miles (10km) away from the starting point. Show more

Are there any overnight campsites near the lake?

If you're interested in camping near Lake Valhalla, there are multiple overnight campsites available with backcountry toilets near the area. Please keep in mind that campfires are prohibited. If you have a Northwest Forest Pass, you can park your vehicle at the Smithbrook Trailhead nearby. Show more

What are the views like from the lookout site at Mount McCausland?

The lookout at Mount McCausland provides an exceptional view of the surrounding landscape, including Glacier Peak and the Scenic Beauty Wilderness. The climb to the lookout can be difficult, as you'll have to gain about 600 feet of elevation, but the stunning views will make your efforts worthwhile. Show more

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Last updated: by Dari Vasiljeva