Lake Serene

     Lake Serene is a great early season hike. Bridal Veil falls are best with melting snow run off. The lake sits is a dark and cold basin below Mt. Index. Best of all the huge crowds of summer are not yet out. Since my industry takes off Good Friday as a holiday the crowds were even less of a problem. Fortunately Lyn was also free so I had company on the hike. The weather was supposed to improve as the day went on so we didn't leave Seattle until just after 9:00 am. By 10:30 we were at the trailhead and found there were only two other vehicles. The sky was mostly gray with a big blue hole right over us to start. The lower section of the trail had more flowers than I expected. Bleeding Heart, Salmonberry, Trillium, yellow Violets, and a strange flower I did not recognize started almost immediately. The new bridge a short way along is an interesting make shift job that worked well. A new path avoids most of the slick mud getting to the bridge. Farther along the flowers continued and there were several patches of Skunk Cabbage.

     We reached the turn off for Bridal Veil falls and took it. I always see the falls on the way up. If I waited until the way down I would probably be too pooped to go on up. The falls are spectacular. Plenty of water coming over them but not so much to overwhelm you. We walked right up to the base of the largest falls. It was especially nice to be the only ones there. No crowds to get in the way. After the falls we dropped back to the main trail. and headed over to the base of the lower falls. We crossed the big wooden bridge and stopped at the base of the falls. It was now noon so a small lunch was in order. It was easy to rock hop the creek at the falls base without getting wet feet. From there the trail gets down to business. The trailhead description said there are 23 swithbacks. It seems like a few more. The trail was surprisingly dry with all the rain we have had. An internet site at Baring listed 164 inches of rain since October 1, 2002. I wore gaiters but really did not need them. The many wooden stairs were just as I remembered them. Unlike most stairs on trails, these were mostly sized for average hikers. By that I mean the steps are not 18 inches tall.

     After the switchbacks the trail starts a rightward traverse over to the lake basin. I was surprised to find that there was no snow along here. The lake is at only about 2500' but last year at the end of May there was plenty of snow well before the lake. In fact, in my two previous trips on the new trail I had not seen dirt on the last 1/2 mile to the lake. The trail is a bit rocky but very easy to walk. Shortly before the sign near the lake we hit snow. Other than to provide for a short snowball fight it did not amount to much. As we entered the basin it became noticeably colder. My thermometer read 49 degrees at the start and 36 degrees at the lake.

     We no sooner sat down than we heard our first avalanche. Mt. Index is nearly 3500 feet above the lake. The face is virtually vertical. The avalanches continued to come down every 1 to 2 minutes all the time we were at the lake. This is one of the best places I have been to see so many avalanches. Best of all, it is completely safe. We quickly put on most of our clothes and sat down to finish lunch. The lake is frozen over but is rapidly thawing where the sun hits it. A thrown rock showed the lake cover was more slush than ice near us. We went across the crazy bridge over the outlet. If it was there last year it was under snow as this was the first time I have seen it. There is some snow around the lake but there is plenty of bare dirt to sit on as well. Soon after we packed up and headed back. We saw 5 or 6 parties on the day. There was a brief drizzle at the lake and at one point coming down. Neither was enough to get very wet. This was a great day to see a big falls, a neat lake, and lots of avalanches. In the middle of summer there will be little water over the falls, no snow, no avalanches, and far too many people. This is a great trip to do on a quiet day in the Spring.

Interesting Flower
Small Falls
Upper Falls
Upper Falls
Index Town Wall
Lower Falls
Click on thumbnails to get larger pictures.

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