Location: Henry M. Jackson Wilderness
Land Agency: National Forest Service
Roundtrip: 6.8 miles
Elevation Gain: 1,800 feet
Green Trails Map: Alpine Lakes Stevens Pass No. 176S
Contact: Wenatchee River Ranger District: Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest
Access: From Everett head east on US 2 to Stevens Pass. Continue east for another 4.0 miles. Just after the highway divides turn left onto Smith Brook Road (FR 6700). Continue for 2.8 miles to trailhead.
Good to Know: Dog-friendly, Wilderness rules apply, exceptional autumn colors
The southeastern most peak in Snohomish County, Mount McCausland offers striking views of sparkling Lake Valhalla, giant volcano Glacier Peak, and the deep forests and rolling meadows of the Henry M. Jackson Wilderness. Visit in September and graze while you gaze. Much of McCausland’s south slopes succumbed to wildfire years ago and has since been reclaimed by bountiful berry patches. But, if you miss the harvest, don’t fret; instead enjoy some satiating autumn colors as the berry patches and mountain ashes turn this peak crimson.
Start by hiking the Smith Brook Trail entering mature timber and gently ascending. At about a half mile, enter the Henry M. Jackson Wilderness, named for one of Washington’s longest serving and most noted senators. A native son of Everett, Jackson was also a champion of the environment.
After skirting beneath some impressive boulders, the Smith Brook Trail ends its 1.4 mile run by intersecting with the Pacific Crest Trail at Union Gap (el. 4,600 ft). Now turn left and head south for an enjoyable 1.5 miles. Take in window views of Nason Ridge east and the close and impressive Lichtenberg Mountain to the south. Just before cresting a 5,100-ft unnamed gap, locate an unmarked but obvious trail heading north through heather meadows. Take it!
Follow this steep and brushy at times unmaintained trail for .5 mile to the 5,747-foot summit of Mount McCausland. Then catch your breath and delight over impressive views of Glacier Peak to the north and the precipitous thumb of Lichtenberg Mountain hovering over Lake Valhalla to the south. Savor the spectacular autumn colors too of the surrounding slopes, for soon they’ll be donning a new coat of white.
For information on lodging and other attractions near Mount McCausland, visit www.snohomish.org.
For more information on this trail and others nearby, check out my Day Hiking Central Cascades book.
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