The trip to Serene Lake encompasses a lot of what Northwest backpackers are looking for. You get excellent forest hiking with high-elevation firs, sweeping views of cascade peaks, and excellent campsites strewn about next to (aptly named) serene wilderness lakes. The trail to Serene Lake also passes by numerous wildflower meadows and a ton of rhododendron tunnels. Here’s the rub though. If you want flowers, you have to come in mid-summer, when mosquitoes in the trillions wait with bated breath for your arrival. It’s best to push this trip into late summer or the beginning of fall when the autumnal change of colors starts. For a delicious food and drink option, try Fearless Brewing Company in Estacada. There is nothing overly fancy food-wise, but really good, cold, beer.
What Makes It Great
The hike described in this article allows the hiker to experience four alpine lakes, which are colored a beautiful blue and make this area an ideal spot for backpackers to stop. About 1.5 miles up from Serene Lake, there is a viewpoint from which you can see Mount Hood and other Cascades.
The trail leaves from Frazier Trailhead and in just under a mile, you will reach a junction for Middle and Upper Rock Lakes, which is a side trip, but is only .2 miles from the main trail. The side trail climbs up a hill to Middle Rock Lake, which is the biggest of the Rock Lakes. Follow the trail through a brushy and slightly swampy area and you will get to Upper Rock Lake. It is good for the backpackers to keep in mind that there is a campsite at this lake. After you are done thoroughly enjoying and exploring these gorgeous lakes, backtrack on the side trail to the main trail. Once back on the trail, the junction for Lower Rock Lake will be on the right after just 100 years.
There is also a campsite here. Once you backtrack to the main trail once again, climb up switchbacks and you are well on your way to Serene Lake. You will get to a signed junction for Serene Lake that is 3 miles from the trailhead. The side trail is to the left, but the real view is in just another .25 miles and there will be several campsites there on the shore. There is a trail that goes all the way around the lake as well. For a different option, you can continue .8 miles to the Grouse Point Trail #517 and turn left to get back to the Frazier Turnaround after 6.4 miles. That will make it a total of 10 miles, which might be more appealing for those looking for a backpacking trip.
Who is Going to Love It
This trail is only 6.6 miles total and the elevation gain is only 900 feet, which makes it accessible for hikers of all experience levels. This is perfect for someone new to backpacking or for someone who wants a short overnight trip to a gorgeous and pristine lake.
Directions, Parking, & Regulations
To get to the Frazier Trailhead from Portland, take I-205 south to exit 12A, merge onto OR-212 E and take a right. Take a slight right onto Market Road 39, which becomes South Springwater Road. Take a left onto South Hayden Road then a left on OR-211 north then a right on OR-224 East. Drive for 25.5 miles, cross a bridge, and take a left onto FR 57. After 7.4 miles, take a left on FR 58 and keep straight for 7 miles then turn left on FR 4610 toward the High Rock Springs Campground. In 1.4 miles, there is a four-way junction where you should take a left onto Road 240. This is not well marked, but there should be a small brown sign that says 240 on it.