Finishing up my final quarter in graduate school has been stressful so I decided to take a whole day off to hike and clear my head. A couple of my local hiking friends were heading to Lake Serene, and I had never been, so I decided to go.
It was rare to be able to go this time of year. Normally, the trail and lake are under feet of snow in late February. We have had an incredibly low snow fall in Western Washington this year though so a lot of the hiking trails are still snow free.
The trail description said it was 8 miles round trip. That is about the longest distance we have hiked in a day in the last couple of years so I decided not to push Chester and left him at home. You should have seen his sad face when Gretel and I left without him.
It was a good thing I left Chester at home. The trail was wide and gentle when we started out but then it got steep and rocky. There were a lot of stairs and the trail was icy near the lake. It would have been tough going for him, and hard for me to juggle two dogs going different speeds, but my little athlete Gretel picked her way up and down the trail like a champ.
We got to the lake just before the sun went down. The water was a pretty turquoise and the steep and jagged mountains were jaw dropping. The view definitely changed when the sun went down but it wasn’t any less beautiful. The water wasn’t turquoise anymore but you could see the mountains reflected in the lake. Every jagged nook and crevice on the rock wall behind the lake was now visible.
We had a nice snack at the lake and spent about 30 minutes exploring the trail around the lake and taking pictures. Gretel got lots of snacks for posing nicely 🙂
There is a side trail to a waterfall on the way to Lake Serene that we were planning to do on the way back but it’s got a lot of stairs and my legs were too tired. The rest of the group hiked up there while Gretel and I sat and waited on a rock. I was snuggling Gretel in a little blanket to keep her warm. People coming down the trail looked at us and, although I didn’t, I felt like I had to explain to everyone that she is not wimp that I needed to carry on the trail.
This dog-friendly trail is not a stroll in the park. Expect to work quite a bit to get to the top. The trail starts out on an old, overgrown logging road. Don’t be deceived by the wide trail and gentle grade because about halfway to Lake Serene, and the Bridal Veil Falls turnoff, the trail starts to climb steeply. You will climb 1,300 feet in the last 1.5 miles up stairs and over rocks.
Don’t overlook this trail just because you have a small dog though. As long as your dog is used to hiking it will probably do fine. Gretel had no problems, except for the few large drops I had to lift her over on the way down. We saw several dogs on the trail and a couple other smaller ones – a Frenchie and a Corgi.
Despite the leash law, a little less than half of the dogs we saw were on a leash. The off leash dogs were well behaved for the most part.
The trailhead is 1.5-2 hours from Seattle out Highway 2 near the town of Index. We left Seattle at 815 am and got back about 7 pm. That time included driving to the trail, getting our gear ready at the car, lunch at the lake, a side hike up the spur trail to Bridal Veil Falls (for the rest of the group), stopping for a cheeseburger on the way back, and driving back to Seattle in heavy traffic.
The view of the lake is definitely worth the sweat on the way up and the sore knees the day after.
Trail Name: Lake Serene
Distance: 7.2 miles round trip (8.2 if you take the side trail to Bridal Veil Falls)
Elevation Gain: 2,000 feet
Highest Point: 2,521 feet
Permits and Passes: A Northwest Forest Pass is required to park at the trailhead