Serene Lake Trail

MODERATE 49 reviews
#25 of 155 trails in

Serene Lake Trail is a 7.7 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.

Distance: 7.7 miles Elevation Gain: 1,679 feet Route Type: Out & Back

dogs on leash

camping

fishing

hiking

nature trips

walking

bird watching

lake

views

wild flowers

bugs

over grown

hiking
snow
3 months ago

hiking
bugs
5 months ago

hiking
bugs
5 months ago

Went backpacking this weekend with a group of kids....to save miles for the kids we took the Frazier campground road. However, it is slow going, lots of rocks, narrow, etc. Unless you really need to save miles, I would recommend going the shellrock lake route-probably just as fast once you factor in the drive time. And still some bugs-adults weren’t too bothered but the kids were... Otherwise very pleasant trail, many beautiful lakes.

hiking
bugs
over grown
5 months ago

Great for easy backpacking - I did a long loop that made it about 12 miles. Lots of spots to camp. About 2400ft elevation gain the whole loop. Took my dog and a friend who had never carried a pack before and we spent a night at serene lake, parked at the shell rock trail and went up about 4.5 miles, then did the long way back the next day. Beautiful. Highly recommend. Did see a bear, however. Make sure you put up your food and be near aware. LOTS of bugs! Bring your spray. Also had a lot of fallen logs to climb over. Forgot our trekking poles - big mistake.

hiking
bugs
rocky
5 months ago

hiking
bugs
7 months ago

We took Dry Ridge trail #517 to #518, which includes the serene lake trail. By the lake there’s a large fire pit and a picnic table. The water itself is gorgeous, and it’s a great place to camp or stop for a meal.

hiking
snow
7 months ago

We did this trail yesterday, the whole 12 miles in the counterclockwise direction. We took our time, stopped a few times for 15 minutes, and it took about 7 hours. It was great, mostly easy with some moderate stretches. Part of the reason it took so long was that rhe trail is about 1/3-1/4 covered in snow right now (June 3rd). Most of the time we were able to follow the trail easily, though at the Frazier Mountain Summit the snow was prolonged enough that we did lose the trail and had to use our compass to navigate back until we found the trail again. Nearly no bugs, lots of mud (wear waterproof shoes!), several river crossings and one great view of Hood.

snow
8 months ago

Road still covered in snow! Couldnt even make it to the hike.

hiking
muddy
9 months ago

backpacking
Tue Oct 23 2018

Great to backpack, but it's a little extreme to call this one "moderate" in difficulty. People talk about a rough road and 4x4s only, when there's no real reason to take the 4x4 road. Start from Shellrock Lake, and it's a dead-easy 6mi of friendly, even trail with minimal (mayyybe 1500 ft) gain. As of fall 2018, there are very few sections with roots/tough footing/blow-downs. Unless you're (mentally) unstable or have a new 4Runner you want to try out, there's no reason whatsoever to shave-off 1.9 dead-easy miles by attempting a Gresham "truck nuts" approach. I drove to Shellrock in a 40 year-old German convertible and it was fine. Your 1999 Honda Civic with the huge muffler, ground effects, and the 4ft fin on the back? It fine. Trust me. I mean, no one likes it and--contrary to popular belief--that bass *will not* get you women, but your sick whip?? It'll do just fine, bra. So let's rate the difficulty, as these reviews make this wonderfully peaceful, friendly, and mellow trail sound like trying to do Dog, Defiance, and Devil's Rest in the same day with a 60lb pack (and yup, that's called the TripleD: only really bored Mazamas, tweekers, and--for whatever reason--mechanical engineers like doing that.) So if the PCT from Mexico to Canada is an 11 on the 1-10 scale of backpacking difficulty, and you were bored/silly enough to want backpack Defiance (9), then this is maybe a 3.5. Maybe. Mind you, on this scale walking to PSU from the Pearl with your Jansport full of books is a 1, and Mirror Lake with a tent, a bag, a sixer, and Cheetos (no Tom/Dick/Harry) is a 2. The Serene Lake backpack is great, easy to drive to, and most any first-time backpacker could make it. If you stopped every 30 mins for rest, you'd be fine if you started before noon: it's only 6mi to the lake. Also, so many little baby lakes and mellow camp spots are peppered throughout this hike. Even if the 8 or so decent lake spots were taken, there are a ton more cool flat spots within a mile of the lake that'd be great if you just ported h20 in your Camelback. Oh, and take the wonderful "long way out" heading west out of Serene Lake on the return and use the Grouse Point trail to then head back east. It adds another mile or two and maybe an additional 6-700ft of overall gain, but is equally mellow given enough time. Anyway, loved this backpack. It'd be a go-to for taking first-time backpackers who wanted to do something that was quiet and friendly, but gave you that (priceless) feeling of being more than 10 miles away from a Plaid Pantry. For a challenge, might be cool as a snowshoe. 5 stars. And I'll include a complete trail map from the Shellrock Lake start point in my profile photos with a title if that's of use to anyone.

backpacking
Fri Aug 31 2018

Took an overnighter trip on Tues-Wed. Wonderful view and not too crazy of elevation climbs as we went counter-clockwise at the loop after starting at Shellrock. Easy enough distance to be out and back within 24 hours. We brought a hammock and spent a long time resting at Serene Lake. Wonderful spots all around for making camp. Starting at Shellrock and doing the loop brought our mileage to 12.3.

hiking
bugs
Fri Aug 17 2018

Did this with my 7 year old boy for his first backpacking experience. We took Frazier Mountain Road to get to the trail head, which was definitely sketchy - I would not take that route without 4wd. The trail was well maintained - just a few large fallen trees we had to scramble over or under, but there was no issue losing the trail. The lake itself was beautiful, and there were a good amount of people there on a Friday / Saturday. There is one camp site with a picnic table, but the one we stayed at had good logs we could use for sitting and as a table. The yellow jackets were TERRIBLE. They were everywhere. We saw several nests near or on the trail that we had to avoid, but were able to keep from getting stung. Otherwise it was a great and challenging trail for my boy's first backpacking experience.

backpacking
Tue Jul 24 2018

Because I don't have a four-wheel drive vehicle I started at shellrock Lake trailhead and made it a two day hike. The hike up to Fraizer Turnaround is really pleasant and Shellrock Lake was a lovely way to start a hike. My friend and I camped at middle Rock Lake for the night which had quite a few bugs but otherwise was very nice. The hike to Serene lake the next morning was fun with some challenges like significant elevation gain and navigating lots of fallen trees with a big pack. We only encountered one person and on a Monday in July had the lake to ourselves most of the day. Serene lake itself is idilic, crystal clear water with a nice open valley to make sweeping views. There are cool rocks in the middle of the lake to play around on and large boulders on the south side of the lake to jump off into the adequately deep water. My friend had some trouble with overly friendly bees but otherwise there were fewer bugs than any of the other lakes. In summary, the Rock lakes were nice and the camping was comfortable but a day trip to Serene Lake was definitely the highlight of our trip.

backpacking
Mon Jun 25 2018

The lake was beautiful, but getting there was rough. Cars with high clearance only. Even then it was a bit sketchy. A lot of fallen trees on the path to scramble over or under as the case may be. But all those obstacles made for a very peaceful evening

hiking
Sun Mar 18 2018

Great hike! super beautiful with all the fallen trees!

hiking
Mon Aug 21 2017

Went on a Monday in late July. Only one there. Lake was very serene.

Sun Aug 13 2017

Beautiful little mountain lake. We just did the 12-mile loop from the trailhead below Shellrock Lake. There are some tough climbs but the Friday night we spent there was great. Looked like it was getting crowded when we left Saturday afternoon.

backpacking
Sun Aug 14 2016

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.

Mon Oct 26 2015

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.

camping
Sun Aug 30 2015

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.

camping
Tue Aug 18 2015

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.

Sun Oct 27 2013

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.

hiking
Mon Aug 26 2013

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).

hiking
2 months ago

hiking
2 months ago

hiking
4 months ago

hiking
4 months ago

hiking
4 months ago

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