Cascade Valley was one of the first trails I biked when I moved to the mountains several years ago, and it convinced me that I needed a dual suspension bike. It has a few stretches which are teeth-rattling bumpy. Cascade Valley, I will admit, is a lot smoother and more enjoyable on skis than on bike.
One of the attractive features of living in this country is the variety we get from summer to winter. We can enjoy skiing the trails and a few months later we’re hiking and biking them.
As you can see in the photos which were all taken at approximately the same location, the contrast between the seasons is dramatic but beautiful at all times.
Besides hiking and biking in the summer, there is another option as well and that’s horseback. When biking on Cascade a few days ago, there was plenty of evidence of heavy horse usage. Banff Trail Riders offer a horseback trip which starts at Norquay, camps at Stoney Creek, and ends by going along Cascade Valley to Minnewanka pack station.
The horses tend to pulverize the surface of the trail, so it’s not as firm as trails which don’t see horses. It’s a lot of fun dodging the horse poop, too.
The floods of 2013 washed out about 200 metres of the Cascade Valley trail around Km 7, and it was replaced with a higher elevation stretch which is 700 metres long. The entire trail is not any longer, though, because at the very end near Stoney Creek, the trail was washed out for the final 500 metres, so the length of 14.4K is still about the same as pre-flood days. This hasn’t affected tourism in any way; at least not negatively, for the Hunter Chalets always seem brim with tourists like all the time.
Rather than going to the end of the trail, at Km 13.3 I detoured down to the warden’s cabin and the old Carleton house which still stands in a picturesque spot on the banks of the river.
A well-known skiing personality in the Bow Valley, Mike Carleton lived his early years as a child in the little house. His mom Dorothy, the pretty lady pictured on the plaque, still lives in Banff. I finally had the pleasure of meeting Mike last winter at the Lake Louise loppet where he was volunteering. You can read more about Mike and Dorothy Carleton in the comments of a blog post which I wrote a couple winters ago The little house in Cascade Valley.
The warden’s cabin is a lovely place to stop for lunch on a sunny winter’s day. The veranda will offer some welcome shade on a hot summer’s day while you watch the ground squirrels cavorting in the sun.