Serene Lake Trail is a 7.8 mile lightly trafficked out and back trail located near Estacada, Oregon that features a lake and is rated as moderate. The trail offers a number of activity options and is best used from June until October. Dogs are also able to use this trail but must be kept on leash.
dogs on leash
Went on a Friday in mid August and there were 5 parties at the lake. Left on Saturday and passed 10 parties coming in. If you want quiet, avoid the weekends.
Very long trek on a straight path down to the lake, then quite a few switchbacks DOWN to the lake , so prepare yourself for some huffing and puffing back up. Pretty place.
The only reason I give two stars is because of the beautiful lake. All the sites and books I checked out before this trip said it is not a crowded hike. True enough we only passed two people on the trails but the lakes were so packed I don't think everyone who hiked up found a campsite and their were lots around the lake. When I go backpacking I prefer it not be as busy as the local strip mall. Very disappointed! The books and websites need updating.
The most mixed review imaginable. I've been here a few times now and feel I know the area well. Serene Lake really lives up to it's name... when you have it to yourself. But Sadly the word got out and that's never the case now. I went up this past weekend and had the same experience I have had the last three times there.
It starts with a TERRIBLE drive down a road that is barely passable by anything but jeeps and lifted vehicles. To put it in perspective despite cautious driving that took over an hour to go 3 miles I still bottomed out my Traiblazer twice, and put a partial rip in one tire (thankfully it held until we got out, no idea how you would get help if you needed it). When we finally arrived at Frazier Turnaround at about 11:30 it was literally already full! If you haven't been here before this is a special problem as the road in is barely wide enough to fit one vehicle so there's no real place to park on the side somewhere or turn around and drive out for fear of running in to someone driving in, in which case one vehicle may have to drive backwards up the trail up to a mile just to get to a pulloff! Luckily a group getting ready to hike noticed and offered to give us there parking spot and have them park us in since they weren't camping.
The hike itself is good, steep at times but manageable by anybody in decent shape. Definitely hit each of the lakes as they are all beautiful, signage is surprisingly pretty good so you won't have to worry about getting lost much. There's a few campsites but the best are all at Serene Lake anyway so just stop for lunch and then continue on your way.
When we got close to Serene Lake finally we could already hear music blaring and instantly made me rethink the entire trip. When we finally got to the lake we found where all the people from the cars were. Literally every campsite was taken and most already had people doubling up to try and accommodate everyone. On the bright side most people are willing to share if you ask nicely. Of course then there are the two groups at the far end of the lake with speakers BLASTING club music so lopud you could hear it everywhere in the area. Keep in mind I'm 27, live in downtown Portland and am by no means an old cranky fart, but Serene Lakes charm comes from it being hidden in the woods, all it takes is one camp of (I kid you not) 13 18-24 year olds with no respect for the rest of the people to ruin what would otherwise be a surreal experience.
The lake itself is the most pristine body of water you can imagine. The bluest water, huge underwater trees and boulders you can easily see and lined with boulders and Firs. It's also home to a group of beautiful Brook trout. If you are planning on fishing however I should note that the largest fish in the lake is probably about 8 inches. They also tend to hole in the middle of the lake so fishing from shore will likely land you 2 or 3 fish in an entire day. There's rumors and old locals who say it used to be home to larger Brooks but those days are long past.
All in all it is a lake that should be seen and in years past a backing must. But now my suggestion if you want to Serene lake do the following:
Park at Shellrock Lake Trailhead and take the longer hike in. Frazier Turnaround is by far the sketchiest thing I have ever done in a car and with limited parking there's a chance you may get in and be stuck turning around and driving back up the trail an hour without even getting to get out! If you want to camp get there EARLY, grab the first site you see and then take a bag with you and circle the lake to see if there's a different site you want. I have watched multiple people pass on the first few sites to circle the lake and have everything be taken by the time they came full circle. Also, even if it's 900 degrees it gets COOOLLLDDD at night well in to the 40s even on the warmest days, be prepared. If you are comfortable with a long hike though, make a day of it and just take the hike in and back out to avoid fighting for campsites and dealing with boomboxes blasting at 2 am.
Hiked this with my 2 teenage boys. It was a workout for me, but worth the quite beautiful lake. only 2 other people were there. we are planning on camping next time.
nice hike. steep switchbacks, great lake, a ton of bees (August - the place literally hummed) and too many people. get there early to get a campsite (late arrivals had to share space or camp on the lake trail).
I started from Shellrock lake trailhead, so it was a lot of uphill for around 6 miles
If you want a three mile with one steep switchback start at the Mt Frazier Turnaround off Fr5830.
Know your salmonberry and huckleberry by sight to enjoy along the trail and at the lake.
DON'T FOLLOW THE DRIVING DIRECTIONS - unless you like scary bad roads. Find directions to the Frazier Mountain Turnaround or to Shellrock lake (if you want a steeper, longer hike).