Friday, September 9, 2016

Hiking Lake Valhalla and Mt. McCausland with the Fam 8/13/16

Hiking Lake Valhalla and Mt. McCausland with the Fam
It was great being back in Washington, my home state. I couldn't wait to get back on the trails. We had planned on going hiking with one of my best friends from high school and she suggested we hike Lake Valhalla/ Mt. McCausland. Turned out to be an awesome choice. Lake was beautiful and we got awesome views at the top of Mt. McCausland!

We started at the SmithBrook trailhead. It is a decent size lot. There were only two parking spots left when we got there, but if there are no spots, you can find some parking along the forest road. There are no bathrooms at the trailhead, however we found that while visiting the lake, there is a pit toilet down there. 
SmithBrook Trailhead to Lake Valhalla/ Mt. McCausland
Smith Brook Trailhead to Lake Valhalla/ Mt. McCausland
The trail starts with switchbacks and in lovely green forest.
Hiking Lake Valhalla and Mt. McCausland
We crossed the wilderness boundary.
Hiking Lake Valhalla and Mt. McCausland
The trail continues to Union Gap where it meets the Pacific Crest Trail. We went left for Valhalla/McCausland. 
PCT SmithBrook trail junction
It was pretty neat to hike on another part of the Pacific Crest trail since we were just on it on our trip to Desolation Wilderness in early July.
 We continued on and here we see Lake Valhalla below.
Hiking Lake Valhalla and Mt. McCausland
Before reaching the gap, there's a boot trail up to Mt. McCausland but we saved that for later and descended down to the lake. According to my GPS it was about 3.58 miles to the lake with 1126 ft. elevation gain.
The lake was beautiful. It looks like there are some cool camp sites for backpacking and as I mentioned earlier there is a pit toilet which is nice. There is a neat beach area and we sat on some logs and ate our lunches. Afterwards we had fun soaking our feet in the nice cool water. The cool looking mountain in the background is Mt. Lichtenburg.
Lake Valhalla
After hanging out at the lake, we headed back up. We decided to head up Mt. McCausland since it is only .5 mile up to the summit. 
It turned out to be a pretty steep climb in parts to the top and the kiddos did great. They enjoyed running after my friends dog.
Hiking up Mt. McCausland
 We did get cool views of Lake Valhalla below along with Mt Lichtenburg.
View of Lake Valhalla from Mt. McCausland trail
Below is a pic once at the top. There were a lot of trees and it was not open to the great views until you kept going to where you find the summit register.
Here there are amazing views of the North Cascades, and a great view of Glacier Peak.
Summit Register at Mt. McCausland
 It was neat reading some of the notes in the summit register. 
Summit Register at Mt. McCausland
We didn't spend too much time on the summit since the mosquitoes were starting to bite my friend's 6 month old. We headed down carefully, especially on the steep parts for the kiddos. At the gap, we found a nice couple that took a pic of our group.
Then we headed down the trail. My 5 year old got his second wind and started running down part of it. 
Overall, an awesome adventure that I would definitely recommend to others. You can see an awesome lake and bag a peak with great views in one hike. From the lake, up to Mt. McCausland, and back to the trailhead was 4.43 miles. The whole trip turned out to be 8 miles. 
Have a great weekend!

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