Camping at Lake Valhalla
Central Cascades, Washington State
It’s hard to believe the summer is coming to a close. Ben, Kai and I had one last camping adventure in August, and it turned out to be my favorite camping spot of the whole summer.
We hiked in 3.5 miles to Lake Valhalla, along the Pacific Crest Trail, intending to pick a campsite, drop our packs, and hike up to the summit of nearby Mt. McCausland.
Picking a Campsite
Even though we try to get an early start on backpacking days, by the time we drive to our destination and hike in, the best campsites are usually claimed when we arrive. On some of our recent alpine lake adventures, we’ve had a hard time knowing exactly how far around the lake to walk and where other great campsites might be hiding. There is always the risk of losing a decent campsite when searching for the perfect spot that might not exist or might already be taken.
On this hike, as we were searching for a campsite, we saw two day-hikers coming from the other side of the lake. I asked one of them what was over there, and he said, “It’s a scramble to get there, but the campsites are beautiful.”
So we took his word for it and started the trek to the other side of the lake.
The trail was tiny and overgrown. We climbed under tree limbs and over boulders. At one point Kai and I stopped and Ben went ahead to search. He came back and reported that he’d found the perfect spot, so we scrambled over more boulders, where the picture-perfect campsite was waiting.
We never made it up to Mt. McCausland after the added effort of getting around the lake, but our beautiful, hard-to-reach campsite was worth a change of plans.
^We love our adventure dog! Kai doesn’t really swim, in part probably because we always keep him on his leash when we are hiking (ask me why sometime…it involves a lot of running and some trail horse poop), but he loves splashing around in mountain lakes and streams. He was a real trooper as we scrambled to the other side of Lake Valhalla, fearlessly jumping over boulders and squeezing under trees and brush. Ben and I had a hard time keeping up with him!
Find Out More
Visit the Washington Trail Association hike report for detailed information on Lake Valhalla.
Even though the summer is winding down, I hope we can hit some trails and camp in the fall some too. As perfect as our summers in the Pacific Northwest are, fall is my favorite season and I’m excited to plan more adventures. Happy September!