Lake Serene
Photo by Brian Kilpatrick

Hiking to Lake Serene

We arrived at the parking lot of the trailhead in the early morning hours. The air was crisp and the sky a bit overcast. It was my first time to Lake Serene and I was incredibly excited to make the 4.1 mile trek into the woods to see it with my own eyes.

While my three colleagues and I readied ourselves for the hike we spoke to a few different groups nearby. One couple had come all the way from Sacramento to hike the trail for the first time, while another from Seattle had made the hike almost every year for thirty years. Most exciting of all may have been a father bringing his four year old daughter on her first hike. Later in the day she would proudly tell us that she’d been hiking for one thousand hours but she had made it to the lake and loved it.

As we set out on our way, one of the first things you notice on the trail is the incredible tree cover and diversity of natural features that surround you. From walls of rock, gentle streams, and gorgeous views outwards of greater Snohomish County, it has everything you could hope for in a scenic hike. About two miles in, we decided to take the steep half-mile side trail up to Bridal Veil Falls and were glad we did. The falls are a gorgeous reminder of how surprised I often find myself in Washington’s immense beauty. For most, the falls would be reason enough to drive down Highway 2 and go hiking. Heading back to the main trail knowing what you’ve just seen is in some way a prelude of the alpine lake at the end of the trail is a bit overwhelming in all the best ways.

Hikers on the Lake Serene Trail
Photo by Brian Kilpatrick

We trekked on towards Lake Serene and met a wide variety of avid hikers, tourists from all over the world, and even an older couple who had never made it to the top but were determined on the day. We’d later congratulate them at the top as they looked out at the lake with big smiles on their faces. One thing became clear to me in meeting these people and it was that this was a cherished place. Regardless of whether it was a regular visitor to the lake or a first-timer like myself, the excitement of reaching the top became more palpable for us all as we the hit the final stretch of the trail.

Reaching Lake Serene is an experience that is difficult to capture in photographs or words. The vastness of the lake is surrounded by rock facings and trees like an oversized coliseum of natural wonder. Walking over a sturdy wooden bridge at the entrance, I stopped and gazed directly at the lake. It could have been frozen it was so calm with an absolutely brilliant shade of cobalt blue. Surrounding it were large and scattered blankets of snow which only adds to the ominous mystery of such a beautiful place. I then looked upwards at the several thousand foot rock facings that surround the lake. Clouds swirled around their mid-section enhancing their intimidating presence. For anyone who visits the lake, it will surely captivate your imagination.

Lake Serene
Photo by Brian Kilpatrick
One thing became clear to me in meeting these people and it was that this was a cherished place. Regardless of whether it was a regular visitor to the lake or a first-timer like myself, the excitement of reaching the top became more palpable for us all as we the hit the final stretch of the trail. 

As we moved our way over to the large rock overlooking Lake Serene where many tend to congregate for lunch and rest, I couldn’t help but notice a mixture of smiles and expressions of deep contemplation on how a place so majestic even exists. The collective spirit of everyone sitting down or returning from a swim off the rock seemed to be one of good fortunate. Good fortune to experience a place so special, and good fortune to share it with the people around us.

Bridal Veil Falls
Photo by Brian Kilpatrick
Save the Lake Serene Trail

A section of the Lake Serene Trail is slated to be logged this year. Help us preserve the trees along the beloved trail and ensure permanent public access to its breathtaking views, waterfalls and reflective alpine lake. Learn more.

  • Mike Violandi

    Mike is a transplant from the coastal Massachusetts whose roots are taking hold after a couple years of exploring Washington and loving all that it has to offer. Back in New England, he grew up with a deep appreciation for the ocean. While attending college in New Hampshire, that appreciation extended into the mountains and forests. He continues to enjoy exploring the region, playing soccer, and taking photos with his old camera. Mike is a development officer at Forterra.
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