Day Hike to Lake Valhalla

Washington Smith Brook Trailhead

Added by Jason Horstman

  • Total distance: 7 miles roundtrip
  • Total elevation gain: 1500 feet
  • Moderate hike with relatively smooth trail
  • Astounding lakeside views of Lichtenberg Mountain
  • Sandy beaches at the lake (great during summer months)
  • Opportunity to hike on the famous Pacific Crest Trail
  • Pristine meadows near the lake with great colors in the fall

The Smith Brook trail starts off with several switchbacks, then continues up to Union Gap where it meets the Pacific Crest Trail. Turn south (left) at Union Gap and continue hiking until you reach the gap between Mount Lichtenberg and McCausland, where you get a first glimpse of Lake Valhalla.

Just before reaching the gap, a boot trail follows the ridge up to an old lookout site at Mount McCausland. Less then a half a mile and 600 feet of climbing and you will reach the top, where you will have a great view of Glacier Peak to the north. There are lots of huckleberries in the meadows along this trail.

Pass over the gap and descend to Lake Valhalla. There are a number of overnight campsites and a couple of backcountry toilets at the lake, although campfires are not permitted. There is a very pleasant sandy beach at the lake as well, which is perfect for lunch and relaxing in the summer.

Pack List

  • Backpack with Ten Essentials
  • Camera
  • Waterproof shoes in wet season
  • Swimming suit in summer months
  • Snowshoes/snow gear in winter months
  • Trail map/directions
Read More

Please respect the places you find on The Outbound.

Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures. Be aware of local regulations and don't damage these amazing places for the sake of a photograph. Learn More



Hiking, Photography

Skill Level:



Spring, Summer, Autumn

Trail Type:



7 Miles

Elev. Gain:

1500 Feet



Easy Parking

Are we missing something?

Suggest an edit

How to Get There

3 months ago

Great Hike That Wasn't Busy!

Went on a Sunday late morning, not a lot of traffic (maybe 10 groups in all) for that day of the week. Challenging hike without being difficult, my 14yr old terrier kept up just fine. Beautiful scenery at the lake and lots of awesome mosses, lichens and amphibian life in the meadow. Worth the drive, beware of typical gold bar traffic on the way back if you're heading out around 3.

3 months ago

4 months ago

Accesible Gem

Super accessible, easy hike just past the summit of Stevens Pass. Great road in, well maintained trail and great scenery the second half of the hike. Still some snow over the trail the last 1/3 of the hike and around the lake (as of June 20th). Only downfall is it could get really busy as the summer goes on, saw two forest service workers and 3 or 4 groups on a Monday afternoon.

4 months ago

More Adventures Nearby

Hike Mount Catherine

Washington / Mount Catherine Trailhead

Start off on the extremely rough Forest Service 9070 road. Follow this for just over 4 miles until you see a sign for trail #1348 on the right.

Bryan Carroll
31 Saves

Hike to Gem Lake

Washington / Snow Lake Trailhead

The trail to Gem Lake lies along the same trail that passes by the incredibly popular Snow Lake.

Shelby Pothier
23 Saves

Hike to Elk Pass via "the Knife"

Washington / Snowgrass Flat Trailhead

This is a rather long out and back, however, it can also be done as a backpack, which would give you more time to explore the Goat Rocks Wilderness, which is highlighted in other Adventures.

Isaac Desautels
20 Saves