Are you looking for an excellent late winter-early spring snowshoe that contains beautiful waterfalls, amazing mountain lakes, towering mountain peaks. Yet you don’t want to be under constant risk for avalanche danger. Note: there is one section with some avalanche danger on the way up but that section is fairly short. Then Philadelphia Mountain via the Lake Serene Trail is an excellent choice for you to go to.
The route up is spilt up in two sections; the ever popular Lake Serene Trail; and the off-trail snowshoe up to the technically easy but rarely visited summit of Philadelphia Mountain. The Lake Serene Trail is a highly popular but for good reasons. The maintained trail up to Lake Serene passes by beautiful waterfalls at first before rising steeply up a number of switchbacks to the amazingly beautiful Lake Serene. This trail is very popular at almost any time of year. The off-trail bushwhack is not very popular giving the peak bagger is chance for peace in serenity while they are rising for the summit of Philadelphia. Even on the busiest day it is rare that more that 3 parties of hikers head for the summit of Philadelphia.
Getting ThereVIA THE LAKE SERENE TRAILHEAD: Located right between Milepost 35 and 36 Mount Index Road will be on the southside of Route 2. Turn on Mount Index and then veer right once on the road to the Lake Serene Trailhead. There will be a sign marking the turnoff to the Lake Serene Trailhead from the Mount Index Road. Keep in mind that a Northwest Forest Pass is required for the Trail and the well marked trail will be on the righthand side of the trailhead.
This route starts off on the very popular Lake Serene Trail. This very popular trail up is usually very busy, especially on weekends and sunny days. That being said the trail passes through the great terrain including under numerous waterfalls. Bridal Veil Falls can be seen from a bridge as well as the fact that the falls has a steeper spur trail that leads right to the foot of the waterfalls. Once past the falls the Lake Serene Trail then rises up over a number of steep switchbacks nearly 2000 feet to the foot of Lake Serene. In high avalanche conditions there is one section of the trail that does pass through an open slope so use caution if going on a day with avalanche danger and head early in the morning.
Once you hit the height of land just before dropping down thirty feet to Lake Serene you want to head uphill. You will be leaving the highly popular Lake Serene Trail to a summit that is rarely visited. It is highly recommended you do this when snow-covered so you can avoid intense bushwhacking and having to maneuver over branches and other ground hazard. The route from the trail is all off route and more than likely a trail has not been booted in so even in spring bring snowshoes and prepared to boot up your own path.
You want to head up the ridge for the summit area. At first this section will contain moderate to steeper grade, but exposure on route is minimal. That being said a climber should be aware that the south side of the ridge leading to Philadelphia Mountain does contain cliffs so stay away for the south side as you are going up and pick your way up the ridge. The rise up the Philadelphia will begin to level out once you rise up the ridgeline. From there it is long ridge-walk which contains bumps up and down until the final rise to the summit. As for views there is no 360 panorama because Philadelphia Mountain is lightly forested on top. However there are plenty of spots along the and on the summit area where great pop out behind the trees. Some of these views are quiet open and very impressive.