Thank goodness we waited to do this hike when the trail was dry; we saw signs that the trail to Lake Serene could get a bit muddy with some tough stream crossings in the winter. Thank goodness we were prepared for a hike with the masses as Lake Serene is not a hike for those seeking solitude. Thank goodness we did this hike late in the season as it turned out to be more work than expected.
We arrived relatively early and found the parking lot half full already. The beginning of the hike is very flat and very pleasant with a wide path filled with eager hikers and flanked by bright orange-flowering shrubs of Cape Jewelweed.
The early part of the trail has some nice bridge crossings and waterfall views (with a junction to the very popular Bridal Veil Falls).
Sturdy bridge early on the hike
Knowing the estimated elevation gain for the hike, we were a bit concerned about all the flat terrain at the beginning (which meant it was going to be much steeper later). After the first mile, the trail did begin a rapid ascent which kept going and going and going and going. The trail had lots of stairs and rocks, and I became aware of the pounding on my tender foot pads. There were intermittent rain showers, which translated to big drips coming down from the large trees.
I kept thinking that, maybe, the next turn would get us to the lake. Maybe there would be a clearing or swampy vegetation to indicate a lake. On and on (and up and up) we went without any signs of a lake. Then, when I gave up and decided to put my head down and just meditate on each step (and not think about the bottom of my feet), we saw the lake in the gray mist of the morning.
The Lake really was Serene
At this point, I felt totally energized; there was even a bit of bounce in my step as we continued to hike past the lake to a lovely viewpoint. We watched a brave diver jump in for a very refreshing swim. We ate some trail food staring up at Mt Index while Norge went off to explore for rocks.
The sun even came out to brighten our return trip to the car. As we were changing out of our hiking boots, there were cars waiting for our parking spot. There must have been hundreds of sore foot pads resting at Lake Serene that afternoon.