Rock Lakes - Serene Lake Hike 6/1-6/2 2021

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Rock Lakes - Serene Lake Hike 6/1-6/2 2021

Post by SalamanderSam » June 4th, 2021, 2:28 pm

Shellrock Trailhead to Rock Lakes to Serene Lake
Type: Out and Back
Trail Condition: Good (snow melt made trail wet but not muddy)
Bugs: None
Snow: 4500’ and above

I heard the Roaring River Wilderness had recently been opened up by the Forest Service after the fires last summer. With a few open days on our schedule, my wife and I decided to go check it out.

Although I knew that snow would likely be up on the ridges still, I figured it could be navigated fairly simply with a map, compass, and the ever helpful Avenza Maps. We parked at the Shellrock Trailhead instead of Frazier Turnaround, we heard afterwards from another hiker that this was a good move, as Frazier Turnaround still has a good amount of snow on the road.

Our plan was to hike from Shellrock Trailhead to Frazier Turnaround, hike on the Grouse Point Trail #517 to the Serene Lake junction, camp at Serene Lake, and then finish the loop through Rock Lakes and back down Shellrock Lake trail.

After passing Shellrock Lake, I soon realized I had very much underestimated the amount of snow that would be on slopes of the tree covered ridge. Above the 4500’ mark, we started walking almost exclusively on snow pack. Jess was continually giving me the maybe-we-should-turn-around look, while I encouraged her gently that we were almost to the Turnaround. The fact was that I was pretty much right. Our feet got wet, but we were able to follow the trail to the junction on top of the ridge. The snow on the slopes of the ridge was at least 4-5 feet deep in most places, but on top of the ridge the ground was mostly clear of it.

Still, I thought better of my original plan to hike along the ridge, opting instead for a quicker descent into the lower elevation Rock Lakes. Like clockwork, once we dropped below about 4500’, the ground cleared of snow and we made quick work of the trail. We set up camp at Lower Rock Lake for the night.
The next day we woke up and headed up to Middle Rock Lake, no problem getting there.
The trail from Middle Rock Lake to Upper Rock Lake was covered with some snow, similar to the snow on the ridge. Jess and I decided we just didn’t need to see it.

From there we hiked out to Serene Lake. No problems on the trail from Rock Lakes to Serene Lake, it was a beautiful day and although no views of Mt. Hood, the South Fork Roaring River valley was awesome to see. We had Serene Lake to ourselves, I couldn’t have asked for a better place to spend an afternoon. I highly recommend.
We hiked back to the car that afternoon, the trail will probably continue to get wetter with the snowmelt. Be careful and be prepared for some snow walking if you go anytime soon!

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Re: Rock Lakes - Serene Lake Hike 6/1-6/2 2021

Post by naturallog » June 4th, 2021, 3:07 pm

Thanks for the report on conditions! And great photos, Serene Lake looks like a lovely spot.

I know the feeling of encountering the consistent snow and wondering if it's worth pushing onward. Sounds like you guys were able to make the right calls and have a great early season trip.

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Re: Rock Lakes - Serene Lake Hike 6/1-6/2 2021

Post by leiavoia » June 4th, 2021, 3:31 pm

Thanks for posting this. This was my Plan-B for last weekend, but i ended up going up to Cast Lake / Mt Hood. Similar snow conditions there, but the lake was still icey on top.

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Re: Rock Lakes - Serene Lake Hike 6/1-6/2 2021

Post by greenjello85 » June 4th, 2021, 3:51 pm

Nice report and pics! Great news that it's open again! I didn't even know the roads were open yet

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