Central Cascades, Section K PCT Trail
7 miles, roundtrip
(This is from what we recorded on a Garmin Fenix 6x)
Gain: 1500 ft.
Highest Point: 4500 ft.
Typically when you are on this part of the PCT, you'll run into people making their way towards Lake Valhalla. So if you are trying to get away from the crowds, you'll want to go the opposite direction, towards Lake Janus.
There are lots of other options to continue on to near Lake Janus, so it doesn't need to be your only stop. This is one of the neat benefits of hiking along the PCT, you can continue to hike for whatever distance you want!
You'll want to start at the Smithbrook Trail, which starts off with a few switchbacks as it climbs towards the junction with the PCT (roughly 1.25 miles).
Once at the PCT, you can turn left to make your way to Lake Valhalla, or turn right to continue north towards Lake Janus.
You'll notice that right away you'll be descending, which makes you lose all the elevation you had just gained. There are water sources along the way, so if you are thirsty and need a place to refill, you will have plenty of opportunities.
Lake Janus is about 3 miles one way, so roughly 1.75 miles away from where you initially met up with the PCT.
Keep your eyes open along the trail for lots of opportunities to harvest some mountain huckleberries and thimbleberries! There are plenty of huckleberry plants to keep you entertained for the duration of the hike.
But remember, where berries are hiding also means there could be some large mammals, such as black bears. So always keep your eyes peeled just in case you come across a hungry bear.
The lake itself has some campsites that you can stay at. I wouldn't say it is a very pretty lake, but it makes a great basecamp to climb some of the neighboring peaks.
Click on images below to see a bigger picture
Gear We Use
Practicing LNT Principles, and Giving Back
We really want to encourage everyone to practice LNT principles when they explore these beautiful places. We spent years trying to minimize social impact on these locations, but the cat is out of the bag and these places are easy to find online. So it is our mission to share more about ways to keep these places as pristine as possible.
We also donate 3% of all our profits to organizations supporting the outdoors and working hard to keep these areas protected and safe.