Location: Henry M Jackson Wilderness, Stevens Pass area
Land Agency: Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest
Roundtrip: 12.0 miles
Elevation gain: 1,500 feet
Green Trails Map: Alpine Lakes-Stevens Pass No. 176S
Contact: Wenatchee River Ranger District (Leavenworth): Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest
Access: From Everett, head east on US 2 for 65 miles to Stevens Pass. Park on north side of highway (across from ski area) and locate the Pacific Crest Trailhead.
Notes: wilderness rules apply
Good to Know: Dog-friendly, kid-friendly
Valhalla in the Henry M. Jackson Wilderness is a place where tired and weary souls can choose to ascend to. And upon arriving to the shores of this large backcountry lake, wayward pilgrims will quickly realize, it is indeed a heavenly place.
Depart on your voyage to Valhalla via Stevens Pass. By way of the Pacific Crest Trail, head north into the rolling and rugged Central Cascades. The way starts out easy enough by utilizing an old rail bed. The pass was long abandoned for rail travel. Consistently heavy snowfall and severe avalanches forced the railroad underground. In 1929, a 7.8 mile tunnel was completed through the Cascades below Stevens Pass. It was the longest railroad tunnel in the western hemisphere when it opened.
Skirt slopes of avalanche-thinned forest and after about two miles enter dark groves of old-growth. Enter the Jackson Wilderness and continue through more stately stands of old-growth forest. Climb a little, pass through a series of soggy meadows, and then crest a small ridge. Now drop three hundred feet to twinkling Lake Valhalla set in a bowl beneath Lichtenberg Mountain.
The lake’s quiet shoreline makes for a fine place to lounge the day away. But, if you’re inclined to further explore the region, carry on past the lake and climb to a small saddle above it. Find a boot-beaten path that veers off left. Now, follow this trail through berry patches to the 5,747-foot summit of Mount McCausland. From this small peak an impressive view of the surrounding countryside can be had. Lake Valhalla sparkles below. A divine sight and site-indeed!
For more detailed information and maps on this hike and others near Stevens Pass and beyond (125 hikes in all), pick up a copy of my Day Hiking Central Cascades guidebook (Mountaineers Books)!
For great family-friendly ideas on where to stay and other places to play near Stevens Pass, consult Northwest TripFinder