Where the Mount Hood National Forest reaches south one can find scores of hiking and backpacking options. What makes this area of the forest ideal for many is that there are generally fewer visitors (when compared to Mount Hood) so the experience may likely be much more serene. And perhaps this is why this destination is named as it is.
Serene and Rock Lakes are quiet and pristine subalpine lakes, only accessible by foot. The length of the hike is such that it can be completed in just a day, but several campsites scattered along the shores of Serene Lake and a couple at Middle and Upper Rock Lakes make it possible to enjoy the stars and recharge overnight. The adventure officially begins at the Frazier Trailhead but this is after surviving an infamous 4-mile passage on rocky and uneven Road 240*. Although it is passable in a low-clearance vehicle, high clearance is strongly recommended.
Reaching the trailhead is a relieve, and after a welcomed 1-mile descent down the trail you’ll be rewarded by reaching Middle Rock Lake and nearby Upper and Lower Rock Lakes. Take a break here or continue toward Serene Lake, another 2 miles. From Rock Lakes the trail continues up hill via several switchbacks. The change of pace is strenuous but comes with beautiful views of Mount Hood at several locations. Soon you’ll reach the northwest tip of Serene Lake and from here, either scout out your campsite and take a dip, or continue on to complete the Serene Lake loop. If choosing to continue, prepare yourself for further gains in elevation and subsequent declines, but anticipate the most rewarding views yet. Not only will Mount Hood come into view again, Mount Adams, Mount Jefferson and Olallie Butte make appearances along the route. Whether making the trip a there-and-back to Serene Lake or making it a loop, enjoy the diversity of forests and meadows, ups and downs, subalpine lakes and views of our Cascade volcanoes.
*To avoid Road 240 all together begin the hike at Shellrock Lake Trailhead. Although the hike will be slightly longer, passage in the car will be much more relaxed. See driving directions for details.