Lake Valhalla, Stevens Pass Trailhead N-S, Seattle - Alpine Lakes Wilderness - Snoqualmie Pass - Central Cascades, Washington
Lake Valhalla - 11.5 miles
Stevens Pass Trailhead N-S
|Round-Trip Length:||11.5 miles|
|Start-End Elevation:||4,061' - 4,838' (5,058' max elevation)|
|Elevation Change:||+777' net elevation gain (+2,015' total roundtrip elevation gain)|
Lake Valhalla - 11.5 Miles Round-Trip
Lake Valhalla (4,838') is located 5.75 miles north of Stevens Pass along the Pacific Crest Trail in the Henry M. Jackson Wilderness. This 24 acre lake fills a large bowl capped by Lichtenberg Mountain (5,844') and Mount McCausland (5,747').
The PCT follows an old graded rail bed along Highway 2 before turning up Nason Creek into the backcountry. It passes through pleasant forests and several meadows en route to the lake, which features two sandy beaches and a large Westslope Cutthroat Trout population (rainbows are also present).
Valhalla is also accessible from the Smithbrook Trailhead, a shorter route with less climbing. Consider a two-car shuttle between these convenient trailheads for a fun, nearly equidistant thru-hike:
The PCT trailhead is located between the green-roof building and fenced power station on the north side of Stevens Pass. The PCT heads NE along a wide, graded track where trains ran before the tunnel was built. It drops gently (if not uneventfully) until bending sharply NW over Nason Creek and out of view of Highway 2 (1.75 miles : 3,785').
The PCT wraps along a high contour line and crosses a creek into a thick forest (2.3 miles). It enters the Henry M Jackson Wilderness (3.25 miles : 4,155') and switchbacks steeply to the edge of a meadow with desirable campsites.
The trail arcs over the meadow and climbs into a second large meadow rife with berries (3.75 miles : 4,435'). It steepens above the meadow into a particularly nice forest loaded with berries and an otherwise open understory (4.5 miles : 4,740').
Steady, duff-padded switchbacks open and level across a talus field (5.0 miles : 5,010') to the route's highest point on a saddle over the lake (5.25 miles : 5,058'). Boot tracks branch off to campsites and decent aerial views of the basin. Avoid trampling sensitive heather in this area.
The main trail drops sharply off the saddle to a meadow along the inlet (5.6 miles). Follow a spur down to an outcrop on Lake Valhalla (5.75 miles : 4,838').
Hop off the outcrop to thin beaches on either side with plenty of room to cast. Backtrack and continue up the PCT for terrific views of Lichtenberg and the entire lake basin.
Valhalla is derived from the Old Norse word Valholl, which translates to 'hall of the slain'. In Norse mythology, the souls of noble warriors killed in battle were sent to an idyllic palace where they would live, fight and feast gluttonously. Today the term Valhalla is used figuratively to describe a place of honor or bliss.
- N47 44.882 W121 05.294 — 0.0 miles : Stevens Pass - PCT Trailhead (north)
- N47 45.261 W121 04.997 — .5 miles : Fast, easy grade
- N47 45.647 W121 04.901 — 1.0 miles : Fast, mild descent
- N47 46.084 W121 04.894 — 1.5 miles : Fast, mild decent
- N47 46.228 W121 05.059 — 1.75 miles : Begin turn away from HWY 2
- N47 46.249 W121 05.369 — 2.0 miles : Forest diversifies
- N47 46.373 W121 05.733 — 2.52 miles : Turn behind ridge
- N47 46.549 W121 06.228 — 3.0 miles : Level along contour line
- N47 46.491 W121 06.436 — 3.25 miles : Henry M Jackson Wilderness Boundary
- N47 46.511 W121 06.677 — 3.5 miles : Arc around and above meadow
- N47 46.893 W121 06.844 — 4.0 miles : Steep climb over meadow
- N47 47.018 W121 06.624 — 4.5 miles : Steady climb in thinning forest
- N47 47.213 W121 06.393 — 5.0 miles : Steady climb on switchbacks
- N47 47.334 W121 06.223 — 5.25 miles : Crest over lake basin (5,058')
- N47 47.481 W121 06.282 — 5.48 miles : Main spur trail to lake
- N47 47.489 W121 06.159 — 5.75 miles : Lake Valhalla (4,838')
- Westslope Cutthroats are one of two cutthroat subspecies native to Washington. They occur naturally on the east side of the Cascades, and prefer pristine headwater streams and alpine lakes (like Valhalla). Westslopes are aggressive feeders who respond well to natural bait.
Camping and Backpacking Information
Camping Rules and Regulations
- No fee required.
- Group size is limited to 12 individuals (or people and stock combined).
- Camp only in established sites. Some may be closed for restoration.
- Sites are first come, first served.
- Campfires are prohibited at Lake Valhalla.
- Bathe and wash dishes at least 150-200' from lakes and streams.
- Fishing is permitted in Lake Valhalla with a valid WA state fishing license.
- Contact the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife for specific guidelines.
Sport | Commercial Licenses: 360.902.2434
Disability Licenses: 360.902.2460
Rules and Regulations
- A Recreation Pass is not required to access the Stevens Pass Trailhead (north or south).
- Free, self-registration is required at the North Trailhead (access Lake Valhalla and beyond). Sign in as directed at the trailhead board.
- Dogs are permitted on the PCT from Stevens Pass to Lake Valhalla.
- Camping with stock is not permitted at Josephine Lake.
Directions to Trailhead
The Stevens Pass - Pacific Crest Trailhead (N) is located on the north side of Highway 2 on Stevens Pass, oppostite the Stevens Pass Ski Area. The trail begins on the left side of the green-roof building, between it and the fenced-off power station). Access Lake Valhalla.
The Stevens Pass - Pacific Crest Trailhead (S) is located on the south side of Highway 2 within the Stevens Pass Ski Area. The trail begins at the clock tower, just up the steps from the main parking area. Access Josephine Lake and the Chain Lakes.
A pedestrian bridge leads over the highway and connects the two parking areas.
Stevens Pass is approximately 65 miles east of Everett, and 35.1 miles west of Leavenworth.
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