Photo by Sarah Shaffer. Article by Andy Dappen.
For starters, the lake has quite a name going for it. En route to this lake for Norse heroes slain in battle, you’ll see both the snowy slopes of Mt. Hinman in the distance and the rock walls of Lichtenberg Mountain nearby. Besides scenery, the lake’s beach and shallow water make it a nice swimming destination on a blistering day. Finally there’s the sub alpine foliage that lights up in fall.
Maps: See map below for more information. USGS 7.5-Minute Series: Labyrinth Mountain.
Note: use ‘Print Preview’ before printing to properly scale this map to a full sheet of paper.
Activity: Hiking, Family Fun
Nearest Town: Stevens Pass
Skill Level: 1
Fitness Level: 1+ or 2-
Distance: The distance to the lake varies depending on the approach used. The shorter and, arguably, more pleasant approach is off of the Smith Brook Road—which has a one-way distance of 3.5 miles. Approaching from Stevens Road just off Highway 2 is about 4 miles (one way). And approaching from Stevens Pass is roughly 5.4 miles.
Elevation: Starting elevation at the Smith Brook Trailhead is 4,010 feet. High point is about 5,100 feet. Gain : 1,090 feet. Photo by Andy Dappen.
Access. To reach the Smith Brook Trailhead, drive 30.4 miles west of Leavenworth along Highway 2. Using the milepost signs along the highway, turn right (north) onto the Smith Brook Road at milepost 68.6. Drive about 2.6 miles along the Smith Brook Road to the trailhead on the left side of the road.
- Hike uphill on the Smith Brook Trail toward Union Gap. The trail starts out climbing fairly steeply and the bulk of the route’s elevation is gained along this leg.
- After about 1.5 miles, you’ll meet the Pacific Crest Trail. Turn left and follow the Crest Trail for 2 miles to the lake.
- At the lake, a spur trail branches off the Crest Trail and heads down to the beach on the northwest side of the lake.
- Hikers and trail runners wanting a longer outing can return by continuing along the Pacific Crest Trail and exiting the trail at Stevens Road or at Stevens Pass. Hikers should consider leaving a mountain bike at Stevens Pass and riding back to the Smith Brook trailhead.
Sidetrip. Peak baggers and view baggers may want to take note that they can scramble up Mount McCausland (5,747 feet) by leaving the main trail leading to Lake Valhalla at the pass above the lake. Follow the tightly switchbacking boot trail up to the summit and reap the rewards. You can view Roger Gervin’s map showing this sidetrip here.
Fees/Permits: A Northwest Forest Pass is required at the trailhead.
Land Designation: Forest Service
Fun Fact: In Norse mythology, Valhalla is a great hall for those slain in battle. It is presided over by Odin, the father of the gods. In this massive hall, the fallen heroes train for the oncoming battle of Ragnarok–the end of the world–where the gods will fight the giants.
Updated Condition Reports for this trail at this link at the WTA.org website
Trip Reporter: Jan Dappen 10/06
Leave It Better Than You Found It. This should be every outdoor user’s goal. Pick up trash left by others, pull some noxious weeds along your route, throw branches over unwanted spur trails, don’t ride or walk wet trails when you’re leaving ruts/footprints deeper than ¼ inch…
Disclaimer. Treat this information as recommendations, not gospel. Conditions change, and those contributing these reports are volunteers–they may make mistakes or may not know all the issues affecting a route. You are still completely responsible for your decisions, your actions, and your safety. If you can’t live with that, you are prohibited from using our information.