18 September 2015
Bridal Veil Falls, Lake Serene Trailhead (#1068)
6.0 miles, 1000 ft. climb to 1600 ft. max elevation
Today was Adventure Friday, as my Little Hiking Buddy and I now call our weekly hikes together. Given the cloudy forecast, I opted for a waterfall hike to keep us in low-lying terrain. Since this was the same strategy for the last couple of weeks, I wanted something distinctively different for us both to enjoy today. After all, waterfalls are always a kid-favorite, at least they’re LHB’s favorite.
As always, we were not only challenged by the length and difficulty of the trail, but also by the distance of the trailhead from Big Hiking Buddy’s school (and the speed in which I can safely drive back to pick her up at the end of the school day during the start of Friday afternoon rush hour). If you’ve ever been to Seattle, you will understand how poorly rain, fog, start of weekend traffic, highway construction and congestion mix together, especially along the I405 corridor. Nevertheless, I thought it was time to venture beyond our neck of the woods and visit Stevens Pass. Even though the trailhead was almost 1.5 hours from our starting point, it was worth every mile and minute of potentially stressful driving.
The drive to Bridal Veil Falls, located in the Mount Index area of Stevens Pass, was beautiful! LHB and I were completely bedazzled by old railroad bridges and existing train tracks winding through bucolic farms highlighted by the vibrant fall foliage and framed by the distinctive peaks of the Northern Cascades. Even though we live in an area dotted with farms and filled with its own logging history, driving through here was like taking a step back in time. It was an even greater bonus to see it all again on the return trip.
We saw two larger groups of hikers set off on the trail just as we arrived at the Lake Serene Trailhead a little before 10am. Bridal Veil Falls is a popular hike, particularly during the weekend and throughout summer, so we were lucky to see only a handful of folks heading out. LHB and I set up in no time this morning and made our way up the trail, which started along an old road of mild grade for the first mile.
Although not technically challenging at that point, the trail offered much stimulation for LHB as it followed Bridal Veil Creek through pebbled waterways under the protection of moss-covered trees. There were so many points of interest for LHB today! She explored fallen trees, “climbed” under a boulder to see how small she could be to make it her den, crossed over a few streams by way of shaky logs, as well as jumped across rocks with great confidence. Along the way up we crossed 28 “streams,” saw four “waterfalls,” and two spider webs, according to LHB’s count.
Unfortunately, I made a navigational error just before the true path up to Bridal Veil Falls, steering us toward the wrong end of one of the junctions in the trail. We ended up bushwhacking our way through overgrown brush on a steep, rocky strip up to what seemed like a dried out waterfall. Wait, what? This was THE Bridal Veil Falls! It just couldn’t be (and thank goodness, it wasn’t). But, the rock face itself was a site to behold, with dews dripping off moss-covered edges just within our reach. Thankfully, it wasn’t a total disappointment – then again, nothing in nature ever is!
Alas, we backtracked our way out of the boot trail and headed in the right direction (where the signs later directed us). The final portion of the trail up to the Falls was narrow and rocky; where it wasn’t, it was filled with endless flights and turns of STEEP wooden stairs. We stopped just before the last set of stairs to take our lunch break, as I thought we were far too short on time to make it to our intended destination. But, I was wrong! LHB was revived by a sandwich, grapes and chocolate; and she quickly bounded up the trail. When she turned the corner along the wooden walkway and saw the lower end of the falls, LHB took off running and yelling back to me, “It’s so beautiful! Thank you, Mommy!”
Bridal Veil Falls is a magnificent site to behold and stand under. It feels completely surreal to have water dramatically flowing over the 100-foot rock face and into the gushing creek just beneath your feet down towards an unbelievable panorama of mystic mountains. I wish we hadn’t gotten lost so that we would have had more time to enjoy and explore our endpoint, but at least we had fun on our hike and made it all the way to the gorgeous Falls. LHB was just elated to be there, which completely made my day. After a few more minutes of play, we headed down the stairs and rocky trail as quickly as we safely could and made it to the car within no time. We even missed the traffic on the way back, ending up at BHB’s school 40 minutes before the bell rang. LHB was so full of energy still that she talked and sang the entire drive back, yet was content to wait in the lot until school was over. It was a perfect day!