North ridge with subpeaks

[More Canadian catch-up. — ed.]

Mount Louis and friends

Cascade Mountain is a a prominent peak near the Lake Louise ski area, just across the Bow River from Banff. After a full day and an unpleasant encounter with an aggressive park warden related to camping where I should not have, I needed something easy and mindless, and Cascade, with a trail to its summit, fit the bill. I drove back up from legal camping, parked at the ski area, and got a comfortably late start jogging the dirt through the ski area, then the broad trail down to 40 Mile Creek. I almost regretted not starting by bike, but the legally bikeable portion was too short to be worth it. I was feeling reasonably fresh, so I didn’t mind jogging the wide trail, which leads frustratingly away from the summit.

Upper mountain with Brewster behind

Where the trail crosses a bridge over 40 Mile Creek, it narrows somewhat but remains well-maintained, climbing north in a series of switchbacks to a broad ridge. The unofficial trail ends at something-or-other, maybe a minor lake, but a clear unofficial trail turns back southeast toward the peak, climbing more steeply along the ridge and eventually emerging above the trees. Here the trail splits into multiple routes, the most prominent of which traverses right across grass before climbing through some talus. The best route probably stays closer to the ridge, as one would expect, but I followed the beaten path before realizing it was not the best. Cutting back to the ridge, I found easier travel to a small sub-summit, then a few scrambly steps descending the other side to a saddle where the various trails reconvene.

From the saddle, the trail variously follows the east ridge or traverses south of it to avoid cliffs. It is generally easy to follow, but there are a couple of braided sections where people have taken different routes through small cliff-bands. I passed several groups on their way up, and one large one on its way down just below the summit. I had the peak to myself, finding a perfect bench just beyond the summit cairn looking south. The ridge extends north, with several points that look nearly as high as the official Cascade. I knew it had been traversed recently, but was not interested in a big or challenging day, so I ceded my bench to a couple of girls, traded photo duty, then took off jogging down the now much more crowded trail. At the saddle, I followed the main trail traversing around the bump, then contoured back to the ridge for easier travel down to the trees. From there it was a pleasant run down the switchbacks, then a hot slog along the road/trail to the ski area. I took my time on the last part, though jogging some of the flats, then continued north to Lake Louise to shower and meet a friend in the luxury of Legal Canadian Camping.

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