Elevation Gain
1,900.00 ft (579.12 m)
Trail type
7.80 mi (12.55 km)
Warming hut
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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.

Recommended Gear

Before you head out on your next Mount Hood adventure, make sure you have the right gear! 

Here's a list of our go-to snowshoeing essentials to get you started:

Snowshoes: MSR Lightning Ascent Snowshoe

Cushioned, Made in USA, Ultralight, 98.8 oz

Men's • $299.95 • MSR | Amazon | Backcountry | REI

Women's • $299.95 • MSR | Amazon | Backcountry | REI

Jacket/Shell: Arc'teryx Zeta AR Jacket

Waterproof, Adjustable Drawcord Hem, Pit Zips, GORE-TEX

Men's • $431-475 • Arc'teryx | Amazon | Backcountry

Women's • $475 • Arc'teryx | Amazon | Backcountry

Pack: Mammut Nirvana Pro Pack 

35L, Carry-On Size, Hip Belt, Ice Axe / Pole Loops, Hydration Compatible

Standard Fit • $189.95-199.95 • Mammut | Amazon | Backcountry

Small Fit • $199.95 • Mammut | Amazon

Insulating Layer: Moosejaw Dequindre Down Jacket

Water-resistant, Insulated, Adjustable Drawcord Hem

Men's and Women's • $179

Poles: Black Diamond Traverse Pole 

Aluminum, Adjustable with Lever Lock System, 21 oz.

$79.95 • Black Diamond | Amazon | Backcountry | REI

Gloves: The North Face GORE-TEX Gloves

Waterproof, Adjustable, Insulated, GORE-TEX

Men's • $99.95-181.63 • The North Face | Amazon | Backcountry

Women's • $99.95-100.00 • The North Face | Backcountry

Boots: Vasque Snowblime UltraDry Boot

Waterproof, Cushioned, Insulated

Men's • $149.99 • Vasque | Amazon | Backcountry

Women's • $149.99 • Vasque | Amazon | Backcountry

Gaiters: Outdoor Research Verglas Gaiter 

Waterproof, Breathable, Lightweight, Abrasion-resistant

Men's • $41.32-65 • Outdoor Research | Amazon | Backcountry | REI

Women's • $49.95-65 • Outdoor Research | Amazon | Backcountry | REI

Logistics + Planning

Preferable season(s)




Parking Pass

NW Forest Pass


High alpine lakes. Big views of the surrounding mountains.


Large crowds on weekends.

Pets allowed


Trailhead Elevation

3,200.00 ft (975.36 m)


Big vistas

Typically multi-day


Groomed trail



Nearby Lodging + Camping

Eastern North Cascades + Lake Chelan, Washington
Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest
Eastern North Cascades + Lake Chelan, Washington


I did this trail to Lake Valhalla in mid December, able to park at the lot by the hairpin turn up the forest road rather than taking the long route, as the snow wasn't too deep yet to drive. We never saw the direct trail from that trailhead, going out or coming back. We were definitely on the Smith Brook trail that goes more north to the Pacific Crest Trail which then takes you west to the lake. There was a trail set up already in the foot of snow up to Mnt McCausland that we could see people coming down from but other than that, no other intersection was visible or even feasible due to the brush and terrain. Not sure how that highlighted 1.2mi trail got mapped but I strongly doubt it exists. Or is safe. Something to check on. Otherwise, the trail is simple & easy to follow, well maintained and a nice route along the PCT. Picture is in the area where (via our mapping app) the intersection with the highlighted trail on the OP map should have been).
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