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Lake Valhalla

North Cascades, Washington

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Lake Valhalla

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  • Bridge over Nason Creek.- Lake Valhalla
  • The first stretch of Smith Brook Road on the way to Lake Valhalla.- Lake Valhalla
  • Snowshoers hiking out on Smith Brook Road.- Lake Valhalla
  • Looking west after the first switchback.- Lake Valhalla
  • Leaving Smith Brook Road at the second switchback.- Lake Valhalla
  • Heading southwest into the forest.- Lake Valhalla
  • Looking back at Smith Brook Road.- Lake Valhalla
  • Continuing up the Smith Brook Valley.- Lake Valhalla
  • The junction of Smith Brook and the Pacific Crest Trail.- Lake Valhalla
  • The final climb to the head of Smith Brook Valley.- Lake Valhalla
  • Looking north at Jove Peak (6,007') and Labryinth Mountain (6,376').- Lake Valhalla
  • Lichtenberg Mountain (5,844') to the east.- Lake Valhalla
  • Looking south over the Valhalla Basin at the Stuart Range. - Lake Valhalla
  • The Stuart Range.- Lake Valhalla
  • Lake Valhalla from the 5,100-foot saddle.- Lake Valhalla
  • Looking east beyond Lichtenberg Mountain (5,844').- Lake Valhalla
  • Lake Valhalla.- Lake Valhalla
  • Looking southeast over Lake Valhalla.- Lake Valhalla
  • Retracing tracks back down the Smith Brook Valley.- Lake Valhalla
  • Glowing clouds on the way out.- Lake Valhalla
  • - Lake Valhalla
Overview + Weather
Pros: 
High alpine lakes. Big views of the surrounding mountains.
Cons: 
Large crowds on weekends.
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Region:
North Cascades, WA
Congestion: 
Moderate
Pets allowed: 
Yes
Net Elevation Gain: 
1,900.00 ft (579.12 m)
Parking Pass: 
NW Forest Pass
Preferable Season(s):
Winter
Total Distance: 
7.80 mi (12.55 km)
Trail type: 
There-and-back
Trailhead Elevation: 
3,200.00 ft (975.36 m)
Current Local Weather:
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Adventure Description

Adventure Description

Contributor

Lake Valhalla is one of the prime winter day trips in the Stevens Pass area. Located just north of the Stevens Pass Resort and a stone's throw form the Pacific Crest Trail, the lake is accessible to snowshoers of most skill levels, and it sees a good amount of traffic throughout the year. The open meadows and surrounding mountains near Lake Valhalla's basin make for particularly excellent backcountry skiing and snowshoeing trips.

The winter route begins off of Highway 2 approximately 4.8 miles east of Stevens Pass. Park on a long pull-out 0.1 miles east of Smith Brook Road and find one of the gaps in the (sometimes exceedingly tall) snowplow bank. From here you can safely travel along the top of the bank to the avalanche check station and the bridge over Nason Creek that serves as the winter trailhead.

Proceed along the road for a level 0.25 miles before starting the mellow grade up the forested Smith Brook Valley. At about 2 miles you will make a long switchback above the creek where some exciting first views of Mount McCausland and Union and Jove Peaks open up further to the west and north. Continue up the road for another 0.5 miles to the second switchback at 4,000 feet, where there is usually evidence of off-trail activity. When not covered with snow, a white "no parking" sign is visible on a nearby tree. Here is where you depart form Smith Brook Road and set about a gentle traverse to the southwest up the valley wall. You'll gain the Pacific Crest Trail around 3.5 miles from your vehicle and steadily ascend to the 5,100-foot saddle just north of the lake. Here you encounter some expansive views to both the north and south, along with the dominant eastern view of Lichtenberg Mountain. You can choose to descend further into the Valhalla basin for some more intimate views of the lake before preparing for the ride out. 

Note: Always be sure to check avalanche and weather reports before traveling in the backcountry.

Backcountry Safety

Winter backcountry adventures can be dangerous outdoor activities that pose significant risks as conditions affecting safety (i.e. weather, snowpack stability, avalanche hazard) are constantly changing. Prior to engaging in these activities each individual should get the proper training to make safe decisions and be equipped to use avalanche safety resources and tools. Please visit our Backcountry Skiing and Avalanche Safety post to learn more.

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Location + Directions

Location + Directions

Nearby Camping + Lodging

(26 within a 30 mile radius)

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(77 within a 30 mile radius)

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