Type of HikeDay hike
Trail ConditionsObstacles on trail:
Muddy or wet trail.
As seems to be the norm for my crew, we hit the trailhead late, just past eleven. The parking lot was full, so people were parking along the entrance. This was a popular, crowded hike, as expected of a summer Sunday. On the trail, one can rarely go a minute without finding another hiker. Unfortunately, much of the trail is too narrow for hikers to easily pass each other, so be prepared to move to the side of the trail. Other hikers have suggested hitting the trail either early or late in the day to avoid the crowds – this is good advice if you want solitude. My dad and I, gluttons for punishment, decided to wear fully packed overnight backpacks for the hike so we could get some conditioning in. This handicap definitely slowed us down, but the hike wouldn’t be a cake walk without them, either. This is a steep trail, especially the last two miles up to the lake, but not as steep as West Tiger 3, which I hiked last month. Even with the backpack, I felt more comfortable on this hike than on Tiger – possibly because I often stopped and waited for my dad, who was struggling quite a bit. If you don’t like stairs, you may have some issues here. Nobody in our group is a hardcore hiker (anymore), so they felt pushed but made the trip just fine. The trail is traversable, but you’ll want to be aware of what’s under your feet. The first 1.5 miles of tread are in pretty good condition, other than a few muddy spots that can be walked around. There are some puddles pooling on the stairs leading up to the falls, but the stairs themselves are in good condition. The two miles up to the lake are very rocky, so be constantly aware of how you’re stepping. Coming back down is just as tricky, especially with 30+ pounds of gear on your back. I would say that the real difficulty of the hike comes from the rocks, not the steepness. On a lighter note, the trail is snow-free! There are two big attractions on this trail: Bridal Veil Falls and Lake Serene. There are three places to see the falls in close proximity. Two of them, the upper and middle falls, are accessible via the clearly marked Bridal Veil Falls branch about 1.5 miles in. Go to the falls as you head up rather than the way back – you’ll probably be more motivated early on. Standard safety warnings apply, but I saw a few cameramen flirting with danger. The lower falls is partway along the Lake Serene branch. It doesn’t roar like the other two, but it’s still gorgeous. The main attraction, Lake Serene, is at the end of the trail. Since it’s summer, there are some mosquitoes hanging around the lake, and they may try to make a move as you take your lunch break. The lake lives up to its name – despite the big crowds, the lake somehow remains calm and quiet. I imagine it would look even prettier on a day when the sky isn’t grey. We got back to the trailhead a bit past four o’clock, having taken our sweet time descending the trail. Our pace was definitely slow – a strong, unburdened hiker would probably shave an hour off our time. Traffic getting back to Seattle was slow through Sultan, since apparently one stoplight can hold up many miles of traffic, but would probably be better on a weekday. Totally worth it!