October 22, 2012

Rock Lakes Basin a welcome rarity in the Mt. Hood area

Serene Lake from Viewpoint

Lake Basins make some of the best destinations for a hiking or backpacking trip, especially if you like to cast a line in search of a brook or rainbow trout. A typical lake basin, at least by name, usually contains several lakes. Side trails to the lakes make for great day hikes from a base camp. Unfortunately, compared to other regions in the Cascades of Oregon, these lake basins are woefully lacking around the Mt. Hood area.

Middle Rock Lake
There is a lake basin south of Mt. Hood and the Salmon Huckleberry Wilderness called Rock Lakes Basin. The 7.7 mile loop trail within the small area is suitable for either a scenic day hike or a weekend stay. It passes the three Rock Lakes (Upper, Middle and Lower) and the largest of all the lakes, Serene Lake, rises to a viewpoint above Serene Lake and skirts Cache Meadow and its shelter.
Lower Rock Lake
Hiking the loop counter clockwise, Rock Lakes are about a mile from the trailhead, lying both north and south of the loop trail. Side trails lead to Middle and Lower, while a short hike past Middle leads to Upper Rock Lake.

Back to the main trail, in another two miles is Serene Lake. All these lakes have good fishing, caught best with lures and flies. Camping spots at Serene Lake exist in greater numbers than at the other lakes.
Camp at Serene Lake
Past Serene Lake, the trail climbs to a viewpoint looking down to Serene Lake and across a ridge to Mt. Hood. The trail then descends to Cache Meadow, where a covered shelter greets hikers, offering a nice spot to stop and take in the surroundings.

In two miles, the loop ends back at where the hike started.
Can you spot the pika in this pic?
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