45 minutes to the trail head that is.
Once you get to the trail head, the amount of time it takes you to climb the 2000 ft of elevation gain will depend on your fitness level and will power. It is 7.2 miles round trip to the lake and back. Lake Serene is nestled between the peaks around Mt Index, at 2521 feet above sea level. Mt Index itself towers another 3000 ft above the lake.
I used to do a lot more hiking in the mountains around Washington State than I do now. The last time I had been to Lake Serene was maybe 20 years ago. 20 years ago, getting to the lake was considered a “project.” Now there is a new trail that makes the adventure considerably easier. Of course, making the hike easier means that more people make the effort. So if you are hiking to be alone, this little hike will no longer be for you. If you don’t mind people---or go early---it is still well worth the effort.
Years ago, getting to the lake was about mud, climbing up steep embankments with the aid of tree roots, climbing over boulders, traversing streams---and more mud. Today there are bridges and even stairs in some sections.
The water that flows out of the lake creates Bridal Veil Falls and is a spectacular destination all its own. Some people just hike to the falls and call it a day.
Being the gluttons for punishment that we are known to be, we made the 1/2 mile diversion to the falls and then pushed on to the lake (make a note to yourself right here---this diversion adds another mile to the whole trip).
At one point along the way, my sweetie was nice enough to hold back a giant log to make the trail safe for me to pass. What more can I say?
If you keep your eyes open you might even see some petroglyphs along the way!
The wild flowers were spectacular---from salmonberries to trillium and fiddle head ferns.
While we both consider ourselves relatively fit, if you don’t do this sort of hiking on a regular basis, your body will still experience a bit of a learning curve---and our calf muscles did indeed remind us the next day---and the next day. By the time we got back to the car, I could safely conclude that I was entirely my legs---nothing more---nothing less!
This time of year most of the lake is still frozen over.
Some ice stays year round at the South end---where it is protected in the shadows of the sheer walls around the lake.
It was raining lightly and 38 degrees at the lake the day we went---so there was not much lounging about in the snow at the lake once we got there. Hypothermia is a very real thing in the mountains and when you arrive at the lake all hot and sweaty from the effort of getting there, you tend to cool off pretty fast while you take in the magnificent view of the lake and mountains.
So we drank some water, ate a snack and then headed back to the car.
We had gotten a fairly early start around 7:15 and, while we were not the first to the lake, we met a lot of hikers headed to the top as we traveled down.
While the lake is not as serene as it used to be---it is still Lake Serene.
Charles Buell, Real Estate Inspections in Seattle
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WA State, Home Inspector Advisory Licensing Board