Hike to Lake Serene
Date Hiked: 9/5
Distance: 8.2 miles round-trip
Elevation Gain: 2,000 feet
Trailhead: Lake Serene and Bridal Veil Falls Trailhead
Permits Required: Northwest Forest Pass or Interagency Pass
We wanted to get one last hike in on our final day in Washington before we had to head to the airport for our redeye flights. Lake Serene, located in the Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest, seemed like what we were looking for. It was just over an hour from the airport and, at 8.2 miles round-trip, would make for a perfect day hike.
We started out early from the hotel and arrived to the trailhead at around 11am to find the parking lot nearly full! Luckily we found one of the last spots, parked, I made a few sandwiches for lunch, and we headed towards the trailhead.
The first portion of the trail is on an old forest road and it is wide and easy hiking. The road ended and we began a moderate climb through the dense forest. At 1.7 miles we reached a fork in the trail, a right would have taken us to Bridal Veil Falls and a left was going to lead us to Lake Serene, we headed left and began descending until we crossed a creek and then our real climb began. 23 steep switchbacks and numerous stairs were going to take us to the base of Lake Serene, still 1.5 miles away and 1,500' above us.
This hike was another uphill slog for us. We slowly counted down the switchbacks each time we rounded a corner and by the time we reached 10, not even half way, both Alex and I were sweating profusely and wondering why we even bothered showering that morning.
Finally, after a grueling mile we rounded our last switchback, which would take us the last half mile to the lake. By this time we were surrounded by clouds, yet again. When we arrived to the lake it was so covered in clouds we couldn't see the other side, but it was still a beautiful sight and we could immediately see how the lake earned its name.
It was also incredibly crowded; the lakeshore was dotted with groups of hikers enjoying their lunch. So many hikers enjoy a lunch here that a large rock on the shore was named Lunch Rock!
So we sat and ate, and once again watched clouds clear before our very eyes and reveal a stunning alpine landscape before us. As we were eating a couple sat down near us on the lakeshore with their two dogs who jumped into the lake without hesitation and swam around as their owners threw them a tennis ball. I had planned on floating around and brought my bathing suit but by the time we sat down to eat and the chill from walking through the clouds permeated me and even though the hike was strenuous I was feeling chilled and I opted to just watch the dogs enjoy their swim instead.
After we finished eating and took some last pictures we packed up and began the long descent back to our car and then drove to Sea-Tac. A word of advice if you are planning on doing this hike: go earlier, the lot fills up, and rush hour traffic through Gold Bar is a nightmare. Our "just over an hour" drive to the airport took us two hours. Thankfully we had extra time budgeted but had we lingered just a little longer at the lake we may have missed our flights!