Sunday, June 4, 2006

Bridal Veil Falls

Originally hike May 2nd, 2006 and just now getting around to posting the report

Bridal Veil Falls is probablly the most photographed waterfalls in Washington State . . . most often photographed at a distance from the Espresso Stop on Highway 2 just past the Index turnoff. The falls are spectacular from this vantage point and they make a great latte there. You can also hobnob with Sasquatch, take a rest break or enjoy camping or a picnic surrounded by the majestic snow-covered spire-like peak of Mt Index and the waterfalls. I always stop here for my last chance at a good cu of coffee before trapsing off into the wilderness. I've also always wanted to take the hike on up to the falls and see them close up. Got my chance Tuesday, another fine sunny day in the Puget Sound area.

Bridal Veil Falls is actually a series of major waterfalls fed from Lake Serene near the top of Mount Index. The hike to the middle set of falls is a steep 1/2 mile spur trail off the Lake Serene trail. I didn't have enough time for Lake Serene but I could take a look-see at the Falls, themselves. The trail is one of the most visited ones in the Skykomish Ranger District but on a Tuesday, I figured I'd try it nude. There were no cars at the trailhead as I got my obligatory nude picture with the trailhead sign.

Hiking starts out through second-growth canopy along an old logging road until it begins to climb onto Mt Index. About a mile and a half in you come to the spur trail to the falls. Straight ahead and a torturous 3.6 mile hike uphill to Lake Serene through 23 switchbacks . . . or a steep half mile hike up to a viewing platform on the lower falls.

Steep it was though the trail is well maintained and wooden staircases make the steep slopes much easier. Soon you're climbing through old-growth forest with great views of Highway 2 down below and the mountains all around.

I decided to head for the Falls first and then, if I had enough time, hike toward Lake Serene as far as the daylight could take me.

Of course, I had to climb over the protective fencing to check out the falls up close and personal . . . and catch the sunlight. These are the second from the bottom of four falls. I spent an appreciable amount of time up there exploring (and coming too uncomfortably close to slipping over the edge on wet granite). Eventually I headed back on down and turned left to check out the Lake Serene portion of the trail. I met one hiker overtaking me on his way to camping up at Lake Serene (which, by the way is still half frozen in June).

On that lower trail I got a idea of the size of the falls I was just at in the above picture. Another half mile down the trail you hear the roar of another waterfall and then all of a sudden come across it as the trail passes the base.

They are not as thundering powerful as Bridal Veil but nonetheless beautiful. My sunlight will be blocked by the nearby towering peak soon, so I start on my way back enjoying a slow amble along known paths now. Not a bad hike.

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