We hiked to Lake Serene right after a heavy rainstorm and the waterfalls were full.

Day Hike to Lake Serene After Heavy Rain

By Bryan Carroll CFMP, NTP, FAFS

November 24, 2021




Our Rating

Central Cascades | Index

8 miles, roundtrip

(This is from what we recorded on a Garmin Fenix 6x

Gain: 2100 ft.

Highest Point: 2560 ft.

Lake Serene is a very popular hike due to its accessibility right off of Highway 2. On a summer day, you would be lucky to find parking within a mile of the trailhead.

So when we hike Lake Serene, we usually go during the offseason or right after weather events that might turn people off from hiking.

In this instance, we had heavy rainfall causing flooding in a lot of areas, followed by a few hours of calm weather. That was our window to check out all the waterfalls along the way to Lake Serene!

Getting Started

Lake Serene trailhead is located right off of Highway 2 before you get to Index. After you turn off the highway, you'll be at the trailhead within 2 minutes. The lot is small so it can be difficult to find parking, and it is also an easy target for car break-ins.

The trail starts off easy as you follow an old logging road. Within about 5 minutes you'll come to a bridge that crosses over a creek. Unfortunately it looks like weather has eroded around the bridge, so you'll have to get creative to cross the water if it is flowing high.

After a total of 1.7 miles and about 600' of elevation gain, you'll reach a sign and a split in the trail.

Trails to Lake Serene and Bridal Veil Falls

At the sign you'll see that Lake Serene and Bridal Veil Falls are actually slightly different trails. Bridal Veil Falls is a 1 mile roundtrip side trail that takes you directly under the main falls. When the water is flowing strongly, you'll get pretty wet on the way to the falls. It is still worth seeing if you have never been to it before.

The other trail takes you to Lake Serene. You have about 1400' of elevation to gain in 2 miles to reach the lake.

This trail can be tough on the knees. There are a lot of rocks, roots, and stairs to navigate, so take your time and don't strain yourself.

About half a mile from the lake the trees start to thin so you have views of the surrounding valley. At the lake itself, continue along the path all the way to the end which is a huge rock overlooking the lake. In the summer you can jump into the water from here and lay out in the sun.

Click on images below to see a bigger picture

Hike to Lake Serene after a rainstorm to see beautiful waterfalls and an alpine lake.

Practicing LNT Principles, and Giving Back

We really want to encourage everyone to practice LNT principles when they explore these beautiful places. We spent years trying to minimize social impact on these locations, but the cat is out of the bag and these places are easy to find online. So it is our mission to share more about ways to keep these places as pristine as possible.

We also donate 3% of all our profits to organizations supporting the outdoors and working hard to keep these areas protected and safe.

About the author

Bryan Carroll CFMP, NTP, FAFS

Bryan Carroll is a certified Functional Medicine Practitioner and Movement Therapist who helps the outdoors community to reduce injuries and improve their health so they can get back to exploring nature. His big health crisis from mold exposure taught him the importance of finding the root causes to illnesses so you can take back control of your life. He is also the host of the Summit For Wellness Podcast.

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