Located on the north shore of Lake Valhalla, Mt. McCausland is everything that its neighbor to the south, Lichtenberg Mountain
, is not. While Lichtenberg's granite and heather slopes offer steep, exposed scrambling and some fine trad climbing, Mt. McCausland is a straightforward hike- but the views are beautiful just the same. The completely unobstructed view of Glacier Peak
to the north is truly an awesome sight. Make sure you complete this hike by attaining the true summit, just a few minutes north of what feels like the obvious summit.
Named after Norman McCausland in 1988, this peak offers a short hike to its partially hidden summit. Once you locate the true summit, there is a rugged summit register box that contains the register, as well as a short story about Norman McCausland. The following is a direct quote from the first page of the register. I have only changed noted spelling and some capitalization.
Norm McCausland was born on a “timber claim” in Quilcene, Washington, Oct. 10, 1906. He attended schools in Seattle and in Skykomish. He began working at the Skykomish Ranger Station when he was nineteen years old, for George Sawyer who was then District Ranger – his early years were spent maintaining telephone lines, trails, and was Bench Mark Mountain lookout several seasons. He later became Fire Control Officer but also assisted in all phases of Forest Service work. He was a very dedicated person and loved this area very much. He retired in 1969 after 44 years of service mostly all of which was spent in the Skykomish Ranger District. He passed away in 1982.
We are very happy to have had this beautiful mountain named in his memory.
June & July 1988 State & Federal Board of Geographic names, D.N.R. and U.S.D.A. approved the naming of Mount McCausland & Register box follow(ing the) rule(s) governing Wilderness areas.
July 1989 register box donated by U.S.F.S. and hand install(ed) by family and friends of Norm McCausland.
This register box replaces the one that was stolen from the mountain August 1998. Also donated by U.S.F.S.
Getting ThereFrom Smithbrook Trailhead
From the west (Everett/Seattle): travel US 2 east 68.5 miles. Very soon after US 2 separates, take a left on Smithbrook Road #6700. Be careful crossing the westbound lanes of Highway 2!
The Smithbrook trailhead is 2.7 miles up the road on the left hand side.
From the east (Wenatchee/Leavenworth): Travel US 2 west, and turn right at about a half mile past milepost 69. The Smithbrook trailhead is 2.7 miles up the road on the left hand side.
From the trailhead, hike roughly one mile to a junction with the Pacific Crest Trail. At this intersection, take a left (south) and continue southwest for approximately 1.5 miles to the top of the saddle between Lichtenberg Mountain and Mt. McCausland. Immediately prior to cresting saddle, find a well used trail on your right/to the north. This is the trail to Mt. McCausland's summit. Mt. McCausland straddles Chelan and Snohomish counties, the south and east flanks of the mountain are in Chelan county, and the north and west flanks are in Snohomish county.
Trailhead elevation 3,800 ft
Mt. McCausland summit elevation: 5,747 ft
Distance each way: about 3.5 miles
Travel time required: approximately two hours each way
From the Pacific Crest Trail at Stevens Pass
From the east or west:
Make your way to Stevens Pass ski area, and park in the north lot, on the north side of SR 2. Find the road behind the maintenance shed, which also happens to be the PCT heading north from Stevens Pass. Follow the PCT for approximately 7 miles to reach the lake. Continue to follow the PCT up the ridge on the north side of the lake. Nearly immediately after
reaching the saddle between Lichtenberg Mountain and Mt. McCausland, find the trail on your left.
Trailhead elevation 4,061 ft
Mt. McCausland summit elevation: 5,747 ft
Distance each way: a little under 7.5 miles each way
Travel time required: approximately four hours each way
For additional information, please reference the Labyrinth Mountain USGS topo map.
: Park at the turn off approximately 1/4 mile east of Smithbrook Rd. (It should be plowed.) Skin/shoe/snowslog 2.7 miles to the trailhead. At the bend in the road, where the traditional trail bears right, you instead want to bear left (towards the southwest). Most likely, you'll follow some ski tracks towards the west. As long as you don't climb north or south and keep bearing west, you'll be ok.
As is standard, a NW Forest Parking Pass is required at the trailhead. There are no facilities- so plan ahead.
If you'd like to camp on Mt. McCausland, by all means, go for it. There are no "official" campsites on this mountain, although once you crest the final ridge, there is an area where you might be able to set up a tent. Camping is much more popular at the base of the mountain near Lake Valhalla, but be aware- campfires are strictly prohibited. There is a backcountry "toilet" near the lake.