Hike description: With a high point of just 2,520 feet above sea level, this stunning low-elevation trail can be hiked when snow blankets the higher trails. But don’t discount the workout you will get on this trail. Lake Serene is indeed serene and a most welcome sight after working your way up to it. When you get there, you will have climbed just under 2,000 feet in a little more than 3.5 miles.
The key to this and other trails with steep sections is to manage your pace so you don’t run out of steam before you get to the destination. And then, having reached the destination, to relax into the enjoyment of the achievement. The rock outcroppings along the shore of Lake Serene provide the perfect lunch spots overlooking the lake.
If you have the energy on the way down, make the side trip to Bridal Veil Falls, adding another mile to the trip. The falls are a great backdrop for your mid-return-hike rest and snack break. Or come back for a hike to the falls when the upper reaches of the Lake Serene trail are snowed under.
One caveat: For those seeking solitude in their hiking experience, pick a midweek day in the fall. This is a very popular hike.
Directions: On U.S. 2, about seven miles east of Goldbar turn north on Mount Index Road (at about milepost 35, just west of the Skykomish River). Mount Index Road is a dirt road that you will take for 0.4 of a mile, turning right on the spur road signed “Lake Serene Trail 1068.” In about 500 feet you’ll be at the trailhead parking area.
Difficulty rating: 3 (1 is easiest, 5 is most difficult)
Miles round trip: 7.2
Elevation: 1,920 feet
Best time of year: May-November
Map: Green Trails No. 142 Index
Pass: Northwest Forest Pass
Also: The 10 Essentials should always be in your pack for any wilderness travel adventure. Plan for the anticipated and the unexpected. Hiking poles are recommended for trips with elevation gain. Poles are also a boon for water crossings. There is a vault toilet at the trailhead.
Info: Mount Baker Snoqualmie National Forest Skykomish Ranger District, 360-677-2414, fs.fed.us/r6/mbs; “Day Hiking Central Cascades,” Mountaineers Books.
Hike of the Week is presented by The Mountaineers Tacoma Branch Hiking/Backpacking Committee.