Hike to Lake Serene and Bridal Veil Falls

Washington Lake Serene Trail - Bridal Veil Falls

Added by Scott Kranz

A fantastic hike to see a hidden lake in between two peaks. Should take 3-4 hours and don't forget to keep going to see the Bridal Veil Falls waterfall in all its glory.

Consider this a must-do if you are in Seattle and feel like knocking out two amazing hikes AND getting to see a hidden lake all along US 2.

The trail starts out on an old road with the typical amazing forest surrounding you. After roughly 2miles the road will end and you can go right (signage is easy to see) to Bridal Veil Falls or you can keep going and go straight to Lake Serene. This is where I would suggest going up to Bridal Veil since it's only an extra mile and totally worth it. Plus there's nothing like swimming under a waterfall.

For Bridal Veil, it's a staircase to the top (1/2 mile up, 1/2 mile back) and if the falls are flowing, you can hear them all the way up. There will also be water on the trail itself, so make sure you have good hiking shoes (possibly waterproofed) with a good tread. As with any falls, the rocks around it are slick, so be careful and if you are brave, don't hesitate to jump on in. There's nothing like a cold waterfall beating down on you to make you feel alive.

Once back on the main trail you'll cross over a bridge, good place for a photo, and then start to climb. It will be a combo of stone steps, rocks and trail, but just be prepared to push (gaining 1300' in 1.5 miles). Along the way you will see a bunch of peaks in the Wild Sky Wildnerness.

At the top you will see the stunning Lake Serene and all its glory. There is a 3000 vertical foot wall that sits behind the lake, so venture around a little bit before stopping to each your snacks/ lunch. If you're up for it, don't hesitate to jump in! Go back down the same way you came and take it slow, you've done all the hard work already.

This hike will be WAY less crowded in the winter, but be very prepared with your gear if you do. Snowshoes, snow gear, micro-spikes, etc. are all very good investments if you wanting to go up during this time.

Pack List

  • Northwest Forest Pass required
  • Daypack for essentials
  • Water
  • Snacks/ lunch
  • Camera
  • Trail Shoes/ Hiking Boots
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Activities:

Hiking, Photography

Skill Level:

Intermediate

Season:

Year Round

Trail Type:

Out-and-Back

Distance:

8 Miles

Elev. Gain:

2200 Feet

Rating:

Features:

Lake
Scenic
Waterfall

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How to Get There

7 days ago

Incredible Hike!

Not much to see during the hike itself, but the Lake itself is incredible and unmatched. Not for the faint of heart, I'd suggest getting an early start because of crowds and in the winter, well, you know... The sun setting at 4:30 (i'm not salty). Hit the falls on the way up, you're not gonna feel like seeing them on the way back, trust me!

7 days ago

4 months ago

Awesome Summer Hike!

Great hike! Challenging, yet doable for your average hiker. Go early on a hot day and take a dip in gorgeous lake serene but the time you reach it you'll appreciate the refresher (during hot summer days). We made it to the far side of the lake for easy water across and privacy, but the latter didn't last long. Get there early, it's a crowded trail during peak season and the traffic on the way back (around 4pm) is typically congested through Gold Bar. Like the rest, I'd suggest doing the falls on the way up, as you'll be ready to call it a day once you're on the way back from Lake Serene.

4 months ago

6 months ago

Great Hike

This was an awesome hike. It's definitely challenging, as it's mostly uphill on the way to the lake and there are a lot of rocks/tree roots on the trail. The hike is beautiful though, and it's totally worth it. Lake Serene is gorgeous, as are the falls (which you should stop at on your way up to the lake- you will be tired on the way back)! We went swimming which was a cool experience, but the water is very cold so be prepared! If you want to go in just jump, don't test the water first or you won't want to go in anymore. The only complaint I have is that the trail is narrow and there were a lot of people out hiking (I went in late June), so it was crowded and wasn't as secluded as I had hoped. If you're looking to be alone in the woods this is not the hike for you!

6 months ago

6 months ago

Beautiful!

Did this hike on a sunny morning in early May and it was gorgeous! There was still some snow at the lake which made for great photos. Note the trail gets very crowded and is a little rocky but in general is a family and dog friendly trail. When you reach the lake follow the path to the right to get to a big rock - perfect spot for lunch, taking a nap, or for jumping off into the water on a hot day!

6 months ago

6 months ago

Beautiful and Challenging!!

My wife and I did this hike yesterday morning into the afternoon. Started out about 9am. Made the mistake of going on Father's Day weekend as there were a ton of people. This is a hike I would recommend doing during an early weekday morning, maybe even earlier in the year. I would also stress that this is not exactly a child friendly hike. I did see several kids and many of them seemed to be having a hard time. I have a four year old and would consider taking him on the Falls trail but certainly not the Lake trail. Which brings me to my next point. DO THE FALLS TRAIL FIRST. Trust me, you will not want to do the falls trail after the long and arduous lake trail. As far as recommended gear goes, take a daypack. Plenty of snacks and maybe even a full meal. Lots of water (I used a camelbak) is also recommended. A quality pair of high top hiking boots is a MUST. I'd say roughly 60-75% of the trail is jagged rocks that will wreck your feet and ankles if appropriate shoes are not worn. I also recommend a good set of trekking poles for the descent. The trail is worth every ounce of effort. Beautiful, scenic landscapes, a great view of Mt Index and the gorgeous green waters of Lake Serene make the Lake trail worth it. The falls trail is a must as well! Definitely bring your camera and maybe even a GoPro! One of my favorite hikes I've done thus far!

6 months ago

7 months ago

A Great PNW Hike!

This hike is one of my favorites and it well maintained! First leg is pretty easy and a good warm up. I would recommend anybody that does this hike check out Bridal Veil Falls BEFORE you go to lake serene as you more than likely will not want to after coming down from the lake plus it gets you excited for the journey up! The second leg gets tough when you have to go up the 23 switchbacks including some steeper parts with stairs, but when you reach the clearing at the top you get a great view of the valley that highway 2 travels throughout. Reaching the lake and seeing its pristine waters is a sight to behold especially in June with the snow on the mountains still. Go later in the summer if you want to go when the lake is a little warmer. Definitely recommend jumping off the rocks and getting a little swim in! Overall fantastic hike that embodies the PNW!

7 months ago

8 months ago

Highly Recommend

Great hike! Went today (4/29/16) and it was a little foggy and rainy so not too many people. The lake was really foggy and we couldn't see much, but we stuck around for a little while and it cleared up! It was absolutely beautiful! The lake was still partially iced over, so I couldn't get a good picture of the reflection but I plan on going back this summer!

8 months ago

8 months ago

Perfect for Early Spring

Just did this hike in late April and the trail was completely snow free. Compared to a lot of other hikes east of Seattle, it was a welcome change. Hit the trail early to avoid the crowds, take the mile detour to see the falls and then tackle the switchbacks up to Lake Serene. Once you're up there, grab a snack and enjoy the view..it was beautiful.

8 months ago

8 months ago

Prettiest Scenery I've Ever Seen

This hike was fairly difficult the second half. About a 2 mile trek up stairs, to wit my wife called it Mt. Stairmaster. The view at the top is definitely worth it and even in mid April the lake was still frozen with a layer of snow. The craggy mountains we majestic on either side. Other reviews gave fantastic advice to get there early. We got there at 6 and there were only a few other hikers but on the way down at around 10, it was way too crowded to be enjoyable. Also if you are those obnoxious people that blast your music from a Bluetooth speaker from your backpack, I wanted to punch you in the head and smash your speaker for polluting this hike. That is all.

8 months ago

8 months ago

Great Hike!!

This is a popular hike, and for good reason. I just hiked it this past weekend and was very happy with the reward I received at Lake Serene. The views of the Lake and the towering cliffs of Mt. Index are phenomenal. I suggest going early to beat the crowds. While this hike may be best in the summer, I did it in April and really enjoyed the view of the still frozen lake and snow covered mountains.

8 months ago

8 months ago

Amazing Hike, but Go Early

The waterfall and the lake were both great, but it was packed. So, try and get to the trailhead early! Lunch rock is a great place to kick it for a bite once you make it to the lake.

8 months ago

9 months ago

Awesome Day

Being the first car in the parking lot at 6:15AM on a Saturday, there was complete solitude at Bridal Veil Falls and Lake Serene for a good part of the early morning. On my way back to the trail head around 10AM, it was becoming rather busy. If your legs are up for it, be sure to make the 0.5 mile uphill go at seeing the falls before coming back down and and continue onward to the lake. It was a gorgeous day and the views were spectacular. Have fun and take it all in!

9 months ago

9 months ago

Great Hike For Early Spring

Got out to the trailhead fairly early- parked around 845 and the lot was already filling. The hike up is great and we recommend the 1/2 mile side trail to see the falls. The hike to the lake is in the same state- quite a few downed trees and snow the last mile, a bit thicker the last half mile. The lake makes for absolutely incredible views as does the view down on the valley. This trail is beginning to get very crowded- the only thing keeping it from a 5 star rating. It's one of the only trails without bad snow this early in the year, but can't see this being worthwhile much later in the season.

9 months ago

10 months ago

Breathtaking views and solitude

I completed this hike in early February on a warm day, not hitting any snow pack until about the last 1.5 miles, and not seriously until the last half mile. This is an incredible hike. Lush, waterfalls and streams, and very few people (Sunday morning, 8 a.m.). The open space and views over the last .5 mile is awe inspiring. The lake is frozen and covered in snow, and perfectly silent. This took me about 3.5 hours. Highly recommend! (Note: The WTA needs to come out and clear the trail -- a recent landslide left huge evergreens to climb under or over to get through.)

10 months ago

11 months ago

Stunning!

This is one of our favorite hikes. When we have outdoorsy friends come visit, this is a must-see. The switchbacks on the hike up get a bit tiring but the views up at the top are well worth it! As others have mentioned, I suggest an early morning start as it gets pretty busy.

11 months ago

about 1 year ago

Early start for solitude

This hike offers amazing views and scenery, and with its accessibility, it's a popular spot. If you want to enjoy any solitude at Lake Serene, I'd highly recommend an early start!

about 1 year ago

about 1 year ago

Stunning view, great workout

Did this with two of my friends today while the weather in the Pacific NW is still cooperative! Got to the trailhead around 11:30am with a mostly full parking lot. Chugged pretty quickly up to the top and were back to our car by ~3:30pm. The path can get mucky and wet at certain spots, so watch your footing so as to not slip. Lots of rocks, lots of huge steps. Your glutes will thank you/make you cry by the end. Great for the views, the peacefulness, and the enjoyment of nature!

about 1 year ago

over 1 year ago

Doing this is more of an all-day than half day adventure especially if you check out the falls and then the lake. It's a pretty strenuous hike but the views and appropriately named lake at the top are well-worth it.

over 1 year ago

Added by Scott Kranz

Seattle-based Adventurer, Photographer, and Writer

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