Enjoy views of Lake Valhalla... when you aren’t in the clouds that is! Bag an easy summit just off the PCT and explore Lake Valhalla as an extra adventure.

Begin by driving a fairly smooth Forest Road 6700 for 2.5 miles to the Smith Brook Trailhead and park in the space on the left. Much of the signage has been taken down along the trail, so it may be helpful to bring some written directions with you. The hike begins by keeping close to the road, meandering up to the first switchbacks in the forest.

Continue along the moderately graded switchbacks until you come to the junction with the PCT at 1.5 miles into your hike. Hang a left and you will soon see a sign indicating that Lake Valhalla is ahead. This section of the trail is nice and flat as you wander along the PCT and you will enjoy several small stream crossings. Just as you feel the trail start to slope downward approaching the lake, about three miles into the hike, there will be a trail on your right. This unmarked trail is the path towards the summit of Mt. McCausland. 

Begin the last 3/4 of a mile that will ascend towards the summit. The trail may look like little more than a boot-path at times and can get very muddy in the Spring and Fall as snow remains up on the summit, but persevere as the trail gets steeper. The trail makes small cuts across the hillside, and you’ll feel every step as the trail steepens. At last you’ll be at the summit and able to enjoy spectacular views of Lake Valhalla below, and Dow Lake as well.

Return the way you came, and when reaching the PCT, consider taking a right and continuing the extra 1/2 mile to Lake Valhalla where you will be greeted by surprisingly sandy beaches and an array of campsites. Enjoy some rest here and then rejoin the PCT to head back to the trailhead. 

Pack List

  • 10 essentials
  • Daypack
  • Trekking poles
  • Northwest Forest Pass
  • Camera
  • Food and water
  • Sunscreen and bugspray
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RT Distance 8 Miles
Elevation Gain 1800 Feet
Activities Camping, Photography, Swimming, Backpacking, Hiking
Skill Level Intermediate
Season Spring, Summer, Autumn
Trail Type Out-and-Back
Family Friendly


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