Lake Valhalla Trail
Lake Valhalla is a hike that can (and should) be enjoyed throughout the year. This 9.7 km moderate trail has something new to offer with every season: wildflowers in the early summer, berries in the late summer, autumn colors, and a wintry wonderland once the snow falls. Note that the winter access is different.
This trail sees heavy traffic and can be accessed from two different trailheads. This guide follows the Smithbrook Trail, which makes for a moderately difficult trip. The Smothbrook approach is also easier on kids. We also offer a route guide for Lake Valhalla via the Pacific Crest Trail. Enjoy the beach at the lake, set up camp, have a picnic, or just add this hike into your weekend for a breath of fresh air.
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Route Description for Lake Valhalla Trail
Lake Valhalla Trail is a delight throughout the year. The lake itself is gorgeous, and it has a lovely sandy beach you can use for a picnic. There are camping sites around the lake as well, making it easy to stretch this adventure into a multi-day trip. Expect heavy traffic on this trail. Families, older children should be capable of using this trail, but younger kids might find it to be too much.
Note that there are two ways to reach Lake Valhalla. This route guide uses Smithbrook Trail, which is the easier and more family-friendly route. The other approach is via Stevens Pass on a section of the PCT, and it’s both longer and more difficult. Want to experience both? You can hike the two, one in and one out, if you have two cars.
If you’re here in the wintertime to snowshoe, the route is entirely different. Don’t use this route guide for winter trips.
This hike is splendid any time of year for different reasons. Visit in the early summer for wildflowers, late summer for berries, and fall for brilliant colors. It’s a hike worth doing more than once to see the scenery change.
There is plenty of parking near the Smithbrook Trailhead. Start up the obvious trail, which gently switchbacks through the trees. There is a Douglas Fir with an 8-foot diameter that fell across the trail years ago. It was cleared using blasting and you can still see its impressive remnants.
Hike up to Union Gap. There is a junction with the PCT here. Go south and begin to climb moderately between Mount Lichtenberg and McCausland. You’ll begin to be able to see the lake here. If you want to take a moment to appreciate the view down into the cirque, look for a spur trail before the gap. This leads 183 m up to a lookout on Mount McCausland.
Head down over the gap and begin your descent to Lake Valhalla. Take a seat on the beach, settling in to enjoy the scenery. If you’re camping, pick a site and set up, but remember that there are no fires allowed here.
When you’re ready, you’ll retrace your steps to the trailhead.
Hiking Route Highlights
Lake Valhalla is a glacier-fed lake in the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest. The lake is a frequent stop for hikers on the PCT and is accessed by day hikers year-round. It’s an excellent hiking destination, but it’s also used as a destination and base for snowshoeing and climbing. The lake is 24 acres and sits at an elevation of 1,474 m.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is Lake Valhalla dog-friendly?
Leashed dogs are permitted at the lake, yes.
Can you camp at Lake Valhalla?
Yes, there are several campsites near the lake. Fires are not permitted. There are backcountry toilets available for campers.
Can you fish at Lake Valhalla?
Yes, you can fish at Lake Valhalla. There are cutthroat trout and rainbow trout in the lake.
Insider Hints for Lake Valhalla Trail
- There is no pass or permit required for this trail.
- Grab some huckleberries along the trail as you hike.
Getting to the Lake Valhalla Trail Trailhead
The trailhead for the Lake Valhalla hike via Smithbrook Trail is on Rainy Creek USFS 6700 Road. There is parking here.
Lake Valhalla Trail Elevation Graph
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Lake Valhalla Trail Reviews
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