Portland, OR: Rock & Serene Lakes

Discover real wilderness just two hours from Portland.
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Discover real wilderness just two hours from Portland.

While Mt. Hood is still encased in ice, wildflowers replace the snow surrounding the lower-elevation, forest-rimmed Rock and Serene lakes on this 12-miler in Oregon's Clackamas Wilderness.

Hike to Rock & Serene Lakes

Start at the Shellrock Lake trailhead and hike .5 mile north amid flowering rhododendron and beargrass (May to June for both) to the outlet of Shellrock Lake. Cross on small logs and curve around the lake’s southeastern shore to the junction with the Frazier Spur Trail.

Head north for 1.1 miles to a T-junction and head right (north) to the Serene Lake trailhead at the Frazier Turnaround. Turn left (west), descending through old-growth hemlock forest for .8 mile to the Rock Lakes junction. Fork left (southwest) here for a .7-mile out-and-back to Middle Rock Lake, sparkling in a forested basin below 5,397-foot Frazier Mountain. Return to the junction. After .1 mile, a side trail drops northeast to Lower Rock Lake with a single campsite if you’re ready to stop.

Back on the Serene Lake Trail, continue two miles. As you approach Serene Lake’s overgrown outlet, follow the spur to the lake’s north shore and an isolated campsite with front-porch views. Next day, find the Cache Meadow Trail beside a rotting, moss-covered picnic table on the western shore. Climb 700 feet in a mile before leveling out at a T-junction. Stay on the Cache Meadow Trail and climb a ridge to 4,983 feet and a northward view of four Cascade giants: Hood, Adams, Rainier, and St. Helens.

Descend to Cache Meadow. Just before the trail enters another meadow that edges Cripple Creek, turn left at an unsigned trail junction (look for a “517” plaque 20 yards up trail). Pass through another meadow and begin a climb to the junction with Indian Ridge Road. Go right (northeast) on this old logging road to the Frazier Spur Trail; Mt. Hood looms straight ahead and Mt. Jefferson rises to the southeast. Backtrack to Shellrock Lake, then back to your starting point.

Trail Prep

GEAR UP REI, Clackamas Town Center; (503) 659-1156; rei.com

MAP Mt. Hood ($12, natgeomaps.com)

INFO USFS Zigzag Ranger District; (503) 668-1700; fs.fed.us/r6

-Mapped by Eli Boschetto, Bosco Mountain Photo

Trail Facts

  • Distance: 19.3



Location: 45.127125, -121.970527

Hike north from Shellrock Lake trailhead.


Location: 45.133251, -121.972656

There are two options at the Shellrock Lake outlet: 1) Continue straight (N) to secluded campsites; 2) Turn right over outlet (E) to find more lakeside camping and the Frasier Spur junction.


Location: 45.13359, -121.971714

Potential Campsite


Location: 45.134692, -121.969625

Large campsite with easy lake access


Location: 45.13652, -121.970467

Large campsite and junction with Frazier Spur trail: continue north, finding tree blazes marking the route.


Location: 45.135934, -121.972436

Lakeside campsite


Location: 45.136683, -121.973155

Cross rockfall slope and skirt lakeside brush. Next, bushwhack 20 yards to secluded campsite.


Location: 45.137409, -121.972747

Secluded, lakeside campsite


Location: 45.147073, -121.971162

Turn right (north) at T-junction and head to the Serene Lake trailhead at the Frasier Turnaround.


Location: 45.148246, -121.969775

Enter Frazier Turnaround campground; proceed straight ahead, looking for signed Serene Lake trailhead on left.


Location: 45.148579, -121.969485

Serene & Rock Lakes trailhead; turn left to follow the trail west and hike through an old-growth hemlock forest.


Location: 45.149631, -121.974163

Tackle small creek crossing.


Location: 45.149479, -121.981791

There are two options at the Rock Lakes junction: Fork left (S) for Middle and Upper Rock Lakes; fork right for Lower Rock and Serene Lakes.


Location: 45.146702, -121.981262

Middle Rock Lake outlet with large campsite. Continue left (southeast) around shore for additional campsites; turn right (southwest) over outlet for faint trail to Upper Rock Lake.


Location: 45.145499, -121.980858

Nice campsite with fire ring.


Location: 45.144958, -121.981067

Secluded campsite


Location: 45.150796, -121.981952

Bear left at the Lower Rock Lake junction to continue along the route. Bear right to reach Lower Rock Lake.


Location: 45.151677, -121.980783

A single campsite is located on Lower Rock Lake.


Location: 45.150902, -121.982585

A large pond covers the trail at this point; divert around brush on right.


Location: 45.149294, -121.984074

Creek crossing.


Location: 45.149207, -121.986136

Pass a marsh with a large pond on the right side of trail.


Location: 45.153974, -121.993272

Here, pass a large rockfall slope.


Location: 45.149858, -122.004638

Continue straight at the Serene Lake junction. Optional: Turn left (S) for north shore access and campsites.


Location: 45.149309, -122.003976

Lakeside camping option.


Location: 45.149059, -122.005839



Location: 45.148187, -122.005554

Large campsite with old bench. Look for signed Cache Meadows Trail to continue loop. From here, the trail swings right, heading north. Optional: Continue straight to reach a secluded campsite.


Location: 45.146468, -122.004949

Secluded campsite at end of trail.


Location: 45.144743, -122.014718

After climbing 700 feet in a mile, turn left (southeast) at T-junction to reach Cache Meadows.


Location: 45.141235, -122.003813

Viewpoint at 4,983 feet: You'll spot Mts. Hood, Adams, Rainier, and St. Helens.


Location: 45.134337, -121.994298

Cripple Creek crossing.


Location: 45.133678, -121.994655

Cache Meadows


Location: 45.131904, -121.994961

At this unsigned junction, turn left (southeast) before crossing creek into meadows. Hint: to find the junction, look for a "517" plaque 20 yards up trail.


Location: 45.130656, -121.993837

Meadow campsite


Location: 45.138966, -121.981646

Reach the junction with Indian Ridge Road; turn right (northeast) for one mile to reconnect with Frasier Spur, and return to Shellrock trailhead.


Location: 45.144396, -121.973416

Look for Mt. Jefferson to the southeast. Next, continue straight to Waypoint 9 and turn right to reach the trailhead.

Serene Lake

Location: 45.149192, -122.003839

The deep, blue waters of Serene Lake invite weary hikers and backpackers to a cool dip.

Shellrock Trailhead

Location: 45.127138, -121.970279

Start the trail for the Rock and Serene Lakes loop at the lower Shellrock Lake trailhead.


Location: 45.13062, -121.973734

The Shellrock Lake trail climbs gently through some of Oregon's prettiest old-growth.

Shellrock Lake

Location: 45.13554, -121.972232

Numerous campsites can be found along the shores of Shellrock Lake.

Middle Rock

Location: 45.146226, -121.980515

Middle Rock Lake is just a short detour off the Rock Lakes loop trail. Find several camp sites around the southeast shore.

Lower Rock

Location: 45.151643, -121.980622

A lone camp site occupies the end of the spur to Lower Rock Lake.

Cascades View

Location: 45.141171, -122.003689

From a high viewpoint, spot Serene Lake below, and Mts. Hood, Adams, Rainier, and St. Helens lining up on the horizon.

Cache Meadow

Location: 45.132997, -121.994269

Summer flowers fill Cache Meadow in Cripple Creek Valley.

Mt. Jefferson

Location: 45.144712, -121.973026

Descending Indian Ridge, spot Mt. Jefferson to the southeast.

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