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Lake Serene - Bridal Veil Falls

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Towering and formidable, Mount Index is perhaps the most awesome and fiercest sight and site along US 2. But softening its stark appearance is Bridal Veil Falls. Emanating from beneath the mountain's austere crags, the tiered and tumbling cataract drapes over granite slabs. To really appreciate this plummeting waterway, however, you'll need to leave your vehicle and hit the trail. And in your journey, discover a secret - there's a beautiful lake perched beneath those rugged spires feeding those falls.

Start by following an old road lined with mossy maples and alders. Cross a series of minor tributaries. Pretty in their own right, especially after a storm, these streaming streams are also eroding away chunks of tread. Next, along a thickly forested slope, the trail gradually ascends. At 1.7 miles, just after leaving the old roadbed, come to a signed junction (elev. 1200 ft.). The trail left continues on, heading to "secret" Lake Serene tucked in a deep basin beneath the spires of Mount Index.

For Bridal Veil Falls, head right. The falls is 0.5 mile away. Just follow the roar, using a series of short switchbacks and stairways that steeply climb toward the tumult. Cross several side creeks and expect to get your feet wet. Be sure to pause for a moment or two to look back at the Skykomish Valley spread below. One last grunt and reach the first of two waterfall viewing platforms.

Except for late summer, when the falls trickle more than pummel, the roar should be pretty deafening at this point. Don your rain parka and set out on a drenched boardwalk to embrace the cascade's full force and beauty. Bridal veil? From this proximity, it's more like a bridal shower. Literally soak up the falls beauty. When you've had enough, retreat to the trail junction and make a decision. Back to your rig, or up to Lake Serene?

Serene usually wins, so carry on. Continue on the main trail, dropping a little into a damp ravine. Cross Bridal Veil Creek on a well-built bridge, and then begin climbing. On solid tread that occasionally utilizes stone steps and rock cribbing, the trail steeply ascends. A long sweep east - then a long sweep west - the way works under, over, and around cliffs, gaining 1300 feet in about 1.5 miles. Take in fine views of the valley below as well as out to Ragged Ridge and other peaks of the newly minted Wild Sky Wilderness.

And Lake Serene? It lies just a short distance ahead tucked in a tight basin beneath the ramparts and parapets of fortress Index. Stare straight up those 3000-vertical-foot stark walls. Hardly serene, it's more like awe-inspiring. But when the basin is calm, those imposing rock faces delicately reflect in the lake's surface. Now, that's serene and quite a sight!
Driving Directions:

From Everett, follow US 2 east to the hamlet of Gold Bar. Continue on US 2 for 7 more miles to just before it crosses the Skykomish River (near milepost 35), and turn right onto Mount Index Road. Proceed on this dirt road 0.4 mile, turning right on the spur road signed "Lake Serene Trail 1068." The trailhead and large parking area are 500 feet farther (elev. 600 ft.). Privy available.

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Recent Trip Reports

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There are 596 trip reports for this hike. See all trip reports for this hike.
Lake Serene - Bridal Veil Falls — Apr 20, 2014 — drewser
Day hike
Features: Wildflowers blooming
Issues: Washouts | Water on trail | Snow on trail | Bugs
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Bridal Falls/Serene Lake is the quintessential Pacific Northwest springtime hike. This was my fir...
Bridal Falls/Serene Lake is the quintessential Pacific Northwest springtime hike.

This was my first time hiking in the Stevens Pass area, and I was pleasantly surprised.

The trailhead was easy to find, per the instructions in the WTA Hiking Guide. I highly recommend stopping in Gold Bar if you need to use the restroom before starting. The facilities at the trailhead were in pretty rough shape.

I reached the trailhead around 11 a.m., and parking was starting to get thin. I was surprised by how many people had Discovery Passes displayed. I'm not sure if you can get ticketed for having the wrong pass, or if perhaps Discovery is acceptable, but I erred on the side of caution and picked up a Northwest Forest pass from Big 5 the day before I set out on this hike.

My crew was only two strong: me and my dog. I headed straight for the falls and reached them by around 12:30 p.m. This stretch was not too taxing, with the only major elevation change coming over the last 800 meters or so.

It was a bit crowded at the falls, so I snapped some photos, munched on some trail mix and headed back down. But the falls were beautiful and are definitely worth the trip.

I headed back down to the main trail and took the fork to Lake Serene.

The first mile or so of this portion is relatively flat, but the elevation gain thereafter is not for the feint of heart. You will traverse about 20 steep switchbacks before reaching the snow-laden ridge to Lake Serene.

I reached the lake at around 2 p.m. I was mildly disappointed on account of the lake being frozen and covered in snow. However, a series of mini-avalanches across the way on Mt. Index provided a modicum of entertainment. Again, there was a fairly sizable crowd at the destination, but I found an isolated boulder to rest my bones for a few minutes.

I headed back down, wishing I owned some poles to cushion the impact of the steep descent on my aching joints. Over the course of the hike, I encountered about 100 people and 20 dogs.

There was one minor washout on the trail, but it was easily traversed with a broad jump. No postholing in the snow, though I could see where others had gone through before me.

I would highly recommend this trail, especially to the falls. But I'd recommend waiting for another six weeks or so before heading to the lake to allow the snow snow and ice to melt.
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Lake Serene - Bridal Veil Falls — Apr 20, 2014 — TempehRanchero
Day hike
Issues: Water on trail | Snow on trail
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All hues of the wonderful rei member rebate rainbow, from 'four layers of patagonia in decreasing si...
All hues of the wonderful rei member rebate rainbow, from 'four layers of patagonia in decreasing sizes' to 'bucket hat enthusiast' to 'grocery outlet bag of pop chips'.

For a pretty busy trail no one seemed to be smoking the four twenty devil lettuce.

Turned around just before the lake - it was getting really crowded and I had a flashback to that everest documentary I watched where dudes straight poop themselves and loose fingers because there was a crazy long line to the top of the thing. Nah man, not tempeh ranchero, not today.
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Lake Serene - Bridal Veil Falls — Apr 20, 2014 — eadek
Day hike
Issues: Water on trail | Snow on trail
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Awesome hike. The trail was a bit muddy in some areas. There were also a couple of streams crossing ...
Awesome hike. The trail was a bit muddy in some areas. There were also a couple of streams crossing over the trail, but they were very shallow. Not many bugs, only encountered a few curious bees and a handful of gnat clouds. There's snow on the trail the last 1/4 mile or so up to the lake. It's somewhat deep, but the trail is packed down and my feet never punched through. The snow was also a bit slippery in some areas. If you have trekking poles it's a good idea to use them. The lake itself was beautiful. It's starting to thaw, and the snow up on Mt. Index is starting to melt as well. I heard several loud cracking noises, which was the snow shifting and falling. You could see the snow falling off the side of Mt. Index every once and a while across the lake. Overall this was an awesome hike.
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Lake Serene - Bridal Veil Falls — Apr 19, 2014 — Muledeer
Day hike
Features: Wildflowers blooming
Issues: Snow on trail
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Started early, beat the crowds, beat the rain. The trail is fine, snow the last quarter mile into th...
Started early, beat the crowds, beat the rain. The trail is fine, snow the last quarter mile into the lake. We didn't use spikes on the way up, but put them on going down. It's chilly and windy at the lake, dress accordingly. If you think you're in shape, try the Serene Stairmaster! No matter how hard you work, you're never in quite the shape you want to be on the first real hike of the season. The mist at Bridal Veil falls will get your camera wet for sure, so bring something to wipe it off if you want to take pictures. This was not my first choice of a hike for a Saturday, but it was a close by hike, or nothing. Luckily, we mostly beat the hiking hordes of humanity by leaving at 6. BUT, RANT, On a trail as popular as this KEEP YOUR DOG LEASHED! My friend hikes with her dog, leashed, and steps off the trail, dog at her side, for all other hikers. Today a poorly trained, unleashed, dog, jumped all over her dog, and the owners wondered why Loki gave a little snarl? AND PACK OUT YOUR TRASH! The little pickup fairy does not live in these woods or reside in the bathrooms, which are still locked. SO people have been using the communal hill, BURY IT PEOPLE! REALLY! AND the garbage, you don't have to even hike it out your car is RIGHT THERE!, don't leave it in a pile by the loos, just throw it in your car in a plastic garbage bag! GRRR! Lots of trillium in bloom. Posted pictures of the snow level at the lake and plants(of course).
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Lake Serene - Bridal Veil Falls — Apr 13, 2014 — Mindy
Day hike
Issues: Mudholes | Washouts | Water on trail | Snow on trail
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This hike has it all and is gorgeous! Waterfalls, Lake Serene, and mountain views. It was a beauti...
This hike has it all and is gorgeous! Waterfalls, Lake Serene, and mountain views. It was a beautiful day.

The bathrooms at the trailhead were locked. :(

There was a sheriff deputy on patrol in the parking lot, which was great to see after getting my window smashed in a couple weeks prior at Lake 22.
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Serene.jpg
Photo taken by @ziptiecloud on Instagram
WTA worked here!
2010, 2011, 2012, 2013
Location
Lake Serene (#1068)
Central Cascades -- Stevens Pass - West
Mount Baker Snoqualmie National Forest - Skykomish Ranger District
Statistics
Roundtrip 7.2 miles
Elevation Gain 2000 ft
Highest Point 2521 ft
Features
Lakes
Waterfalls
Wildflowers/Meadows
Mountain views
User info
Good for kids
Dogs allowed on leash
Northwest Forest Pass required
Guidebooks & Maps
Green Trails #142: Index WA

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Note: the description and driving directions for this Mountaineers Books entry are copyrighted and can't be changed.

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Red MarkerLake Serene - Bridal Veil Falls
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