Lake Serene and Bridal Veil Falls Trail

23 reviews #7 hike out of 716 in
7.3 mi
Distance
3 hrs 10 min
Time
terrain
2,067 ft
Elev Gain

Overview

Just over an hour northeast of Seattle, the Lake Serene Trail offers a fantastic escape from the bustle of the city. Its verdant forest, big peaks and strenuous climbs beckon hikers to take a dip in the frigid alpine lake at the top, an experience not to shy away from. There's a good reason Lake Serene is so popular, so pack a lunch and claim your spot on the lakeshore or massive boulder nicknamed Lunch Rock, a perfect spot to dive into the crystalline waters (just don't test the temp before taking the plunge!).

Getting Started

The drive to the trailhead is pretty straightforward, just past the town of Gold Bar and near the turnoff for the town of Index on U.S. Route 2 (known locally as highway 2). Because of the popularity of this trail, parking can be difficult on summer weekends.

The trailhead begins on an old logging road at the right hand corner of the parking lot as you drive in, and soon turns into a trail through dense forest. A sign at 1.7 miles indicates the righthand turn to Bridal Veil Falls half a mile up, a worthy hike in its own right. Back on the main trail, the route continues to gain elevation for another 1.5 miles until hikers reach the lake basin. It's common to see snow piled at the far end of the lake, well into the summer.

The area within a quarter mile of Lake Serene is day-use only, with no established campsites.

Make sure to display your Northwest Forest Pass in the parking lot.

Taking Children

Lake Serene is a fairly challenging hike, though strong little hikers will undoubtedly enjoy the falls along the way (use caution), and Lake Serene itself.



    Rate this Hike

    user_profile stars
    1 month ago
    Visited Thursday 12/24/2020. Trailhead; I was the first vehicle in the lot at 6am and other vehicles showed up close to 7am. The roads on the way to the TH were in good condition even though the temps were below freezing for road ways, at the TH there was snow around the edges. Parking enough for 50+ vehicles, parking spaces are pull in only. I was relieved to see that my vehicle was not damaged when I returned back at the TH. Picnic table with fire ring/grill behind bathrooms. Bathroom's are closed, due to covid-19.Be sure to have a Northwest forrest pass ($30) or America the beautiful pass ($80) or pre purchase a day pass($5), as there is no fee pay box for parking area, you can purchase passes online. Beautiful views from the parking lot. From highway 2 , Mount Index road to the TH is gravel and short, just watch out for the potholes if you have a low clearance vehicle. Be aware highway 2 is known for bad traffic in the afternoons, I sat in traffic for over an hour on highway 2 alone on my way out. Would not recommend any of these trails for young children as there are creek crossings and the terrain to the falls and lake is steep (this time of year, December, snowy and icy trails as well). These trails are not paved, nor handicap accessible. Always remember to pack it in, pack it out. Leave no trace and leave the trails better than you found them. We packed out three ziplock gallon bags of items left in various places on the trails. Bridal Veil Falls; The majority of elevation gain is on the Bridal Veil trail turnoff. This time of year it is icy and snowy on the trail (make sure to have microspikes for added comfort on your descent). If doing both trails, the falls is an extra mile with an extra 427 feet elevation gain (the majority of this is in .5 miles). There are lots of stairs and several stream crossings, but the view is worth it. Close to the falls is wet and icy so bring rain gear if you want to get close. Would not recommend for young children as it is steep and the above reasons. Lake Serene; The majority of elevation gain is before the lake in 2 miles and in the middle of the hike. The last 2 miles of trail to the lake is narrow. There are several creeks to cross without bridges, although I thought the worst one was up on the ridge. Lots of stairs and rocky. the first 2 miles is nice and steady elevation gain. There is snow and ice on the trail this time of year (make sure you have microspikes, the descent will be much more easy, trekking poles are helpful as well). The snowy views of Index Mountain from the lake are well worth the journey, even if the lake is frozen over. We did the falls and then the lake, 7.93 miles with 2427 feet elevation gain.
    ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

    user_profile
    1 year, 6 months ago
    The hike, yes it might be hard because of the mostly continues uphill but worth it every step, every breath and every drop of sweat. Was not extremely crowded, being a Thursday is probably the reason. Weather was a little overcast but the beauty of the lake and the falls male the all day look fantastic. Truly a pristine alpine lake and the surrounding peaks are stunning in their dark color. I would suggest anyone to do this hike it is worth it. Enjoy your adventures!
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    user_profile
    1 year, 6 months ago
    It’s rated difficult but I feel it is not a difficult trail. It is a hard trail of you are not in shape. The incline and so many steps take a toll on the legs. It’s difficult if you are not prepared for the incline. Other wise great hike and beautiful. One for the bucket list for sure.
    ★ ★ ★ ★

    user_profile
    1 year, 8 months ago
    The trail was in great condition all the way. I would suggest poles. Lots of hikers on the trail but not walking over each other. Views are stunning on this sunny clear day. The lake was beautiful, in it's half frozen splendor. Snow all around at the top. So worth the trek.
    ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

    user_profile
    2 years, 5 months ago
    Lake Serene has been one of my favorite greater Seattle area hikes for years. I've snowshoed up in the winter (well, tried to snowshoe, but there really wasn't enough snow until up at the top!), and gone swimming a dozen times during the summer, picnicking at Lunch Rock and taking the cold, glorious plunge in (don't miss it, even if it's freezing to the touch!). I once hiked the whole 8-ish miles in my socks, because my new shoes were giving me blisters. The drive out can be a bit of a pain if you're leaving during rush hour, but of course anywhere near Seattle is the same. Though the trail has been closed due to nearby logging, it should be open again before the end of the 2018 summer (or so I've heard). Make sure to bring some good shoes, plenty of snacks, and something to swim in! And yes, the trail feels pretty long and exhausting at times, but hang in there! It's definitely worth it.
    ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

    user_profile
    2 years, 6 months ago
    NOTE: this trail is closed due to logging activity until 8/31/2018. Fun short hike not far from Seattle. Not an awesome trail for running as it is very rocky up top. It also gets very crowded on weekends due to its proximity to the city and moderate nature.
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Public Tracks

user_profile
robert.arora 7 years, 4 months ago
Lake Serene / Bridal Veil Falls Trail
10 mile round trip (not 8, like it tracked here). Awesome hike. Great views, amazing waterfalls. Get off of the beaten path to get to the good stuff. There are a few side-trips off of the trail here that are well worth the time/effort. Warning - if you don't like stairs... this is not for you. There are a TON of man-made staircases built in to the trail. They've done an amazing job maintaining this trail. Lots of hikers share this trail... way too many for our liking. We did 300 floors (tracked by Fitbit), so this is a leg burner. The run down is fantastc.
user_profile
Nicholas Heilweil 7 years, 4 months ago
Rob: Lake Serene / Bridal Veil Falls
10 mile round trip (not 8, like it tracked here). Awesome hike. Great views, amazing waterfalls. Get off of the beaten path to get to the good stuff. There are a few side-trips off of the trail here that are well worth the time/effort. Warning - if you don't like stairs... this is not for you. There are a TON of man-made staircases built in to the trail. They've done an amazing job maintaining this trail. Lots of hikers share this trail... way too many for our liking. We did 300 floors (tracked by Fitbit), so this is a leg burner. The run down is fantastc.
user_profile
MrHoff 1 year, 7 months ago
Lake Serene & Bridal Veil Falls -- 6/28/19
This is one of the most annoying, even aggravating, trails that I have ever taken. Roots, rocks, steps -- yuck! The beautiful (and crowded) lake at the top was barely worth the effort. I will never take this route again.
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Rrrick 1 year, 6 months ago
Lake Serene & Bridal Veil Falls 7/15/19 10:40:53
2 hr to lake / lunch spot rock
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mayddz 3 years, 9 months ago
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rhomesly 1 year, 6 months ago
Serene Lake Trail
8 mile day trip
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