With just a short 20 minute drive from Tye Haus, you can find yourself at the trailhead of one of the most beautiful hikes in Washington known as Lake Serene. As we learned, this hike is not for the faint of heart but rather for the adventurous more experienced hiker. The hike is 7.2 miles round-trip with a 2,000 ft. elevation gain, making it one of the more difficult climbs because of its steep ascent. But rest assured the strenuous hike is more than worth it once you witness Mt. Index towering above you when you finally get to the top.
We left Tye Haus in the mid afternoon, eager to experience Lake Serene for ourselves since we had seen nothing but beautiful pictures taken here by others. We arrived at the trailhead and were a bit surprised to see how many other hikers were already here on the trail. We started our hike on an old road passing by deciduous trees and salmonberry bushes ripe with red berries ready to eat. The trail eventually left the old road to enter a dense forest where it began the incline to the lake. We followed it for 1.7 miles, enjoying the shade of the trees until we reached a sign splitting the trail. The wooden sign read Bridal Veil Falls and pointed to the right, so we stayed to the left and continued on to the lake.
While we had already visited the falls on a previous hike, many decide to take the detour here while visiting Lake Serene. Although it’s only a half-mile to the falls, the trail requires you to climb up steep stairs the entire way up, therefore most choose to visit on the way to the lake instead of the return. Although it requires a bit of extra effort, I definitely recommend visiting the falls, which offer impressive up close views and a great way to cool off.
We followed the trail for a short time until we reached a small waterfall and creek that covered part of the pathway. We were happy to stop here, enjoying the mist of cool water on our faces and a chance to rest our legs for a bit before we ventured on. From the moment we crossed the creek, we immediately felt the elevation gain begin to take place. For the last 1.5 miles we made a steady climb, using stairs, roots and rocks for traction to cover the remaining 1,300 feet of elevation gain. This was by far the most challenging part of the hike and definitely required stopping a few times to catch our breath.
After 23 switchbacks in total we had reached the rim of the lake basin as the trail began to level out. We knew immediately that we were close, so we started to pick up the pace of our strides eager to finally see the lake for ourselves. We nearly ran down the trail until we saw the rocky shores of the lake before us, as the teal blue water gleamed and quickly drew our attention. But what was even more impressive was the view of Mt. Index looming 3000 ft. above us, reflecting across the still water. We scaled the cliffs along the shore of the lake to get a better view of the craggy mountains, the tips nearly covered in a blanket of low hanging fog. Once we had enjoyed the view from a higher vantage point we made our way back down to the lake edge to find the perfect trees to set up our hammock and rest for awhile. While laying in the hammock, and taking in the view of nothing short of a perfect setting, it was now evident why they call it Lake Serene. Serene was exactly how we felt in that moment.
After taking a quick nap to recover we decided to follow the trail around to explore the other side of the lake. We discovered by far one of my favorite spots at the lake known as lunch rock, featuring a huge stone edge that descended gradually into the lake. We aptly had lunch here taking in views from the other side with nothing to obstruct our view, simply contemplating the beauty of nature before us. After taking our fair share of photos we decided to begin our descent back down the hill before the sun started to set, knowing that it would not be our last visit here.