The stats: 8.2 miles round trip, 2000 feet elevation gain
For more information/directions see: wta.org/go-hiking/hikes/lake-serene
Parking pass needed: Northwest Forest Pass (although we saw some people with discover passes in their windows.) I am not sure how lenient the rangers are on giving out tickets so it is best to have the right one.
My mom, sister and I set out from Seattle at 7:30 am. The parking lot and the trail fill quickly with people on this popular hike. There is an overflow lot, but if you don’t want to be parked down the road get there early.
I highly recommend making the side trip to the falls before going to the lake. The trail is half a mile up some steps, but the falls are fabulous! On a hot day the mist from the falls will cool you off (especially early in the season). On a cool day you might get chilled. Bring layers.
When you come back to the main trail you get a couple more views of the lower part of the falls before making the ascent to the lake.
Then it is up, up, up to the lake. There are many steps/stairs built into the trail taking you up to the lake. when you get to a portion where there is a rocky boardwalk you are on the home stretch. Here we are approaching the lake, the views of Mount Index were great as were the valley views at the top. There was also one more stream crossing that was very manageable.
Finally, the lake. If you manage to make it very early or on a day where it isn’t so crowded, take a right when you reach the lake and follow the trail around to lunch rock. If it is crowded you might try to find a spot where you can have slightly more solitude. Also, if you follow the trail to the right there is an impressive log jam that is worth seeing.