Cascade Valley at its best

Cascade Valley beyond the 6K bridge and campground is single trackset

After finishing with an appointment in Canmore around noon, I had a multitude of choices for skiing this afternoon. Canmore Nordic Centre? Goat Creek? Mt Shark? Redearth Creek? The new tracksetting in PLPP was tempting, but I didn’t want to drive that far. 

Double trackset to the 6K bridge

All would have been excellent choices, as indicated in the trip reports, but I hadn’t skied to the end of the Cascade Valley trail for a few years, so it won out. Little did I know it was in the process of being trackset today. 

Cascade Valley at 13.2K. On Kait’s left is the trail to the warden’s cabin.

As Darrell said in his report, “What a treat!” Just like everyone else who was having a great day in the empire, I couldn’t have picked a better day to ski Cascade Valley. The sky was blue, the air was calm, and the snow was cold. The air temperature at the trailhead was -5°C. I took a snow temperature at the end of the trail and it was -9°C. Wax and forget it. I didn’t have to herringbone anywhere. 

Kait was enjoying her first ski on Cascade

This morning’s new tracksetting had set up nicely and was already firm and reasonably fast. The old track was still on the other side and it was even faster, so I skied most of the way to the 6K bridge in it. Lots of skiers had already been as far as the bridge, but not many had ventured beyond. 

There were no rocks to be seen anywhere. I caught up to Kait just as she was stopping at the turn-off to the warden’s cabin at 13.2K. Her first time on the trail, she wanted to check out the warden’s cabin and the old house. I suggested for her first time going down the steep, narrow trail to the cabin that she might want to walk. 

Starting out on Lake Minnewanka road

I continued on for another 1.2K to the very end. The tracksetting used to continue for another 500 metres but the 2013 floods wiped out the trail. There is a skier-set track for MAAD and Chuck to follow which has lots of fresh snow on it. 

End of the trail at 14.4K

On the return, I took the ungroomed trail past the corrals and warden’s cabin. Too late for the sun so I didn’t linger. After reaching the high point(2.2K from the end), I had almost 5K of pleasant, enjoyable stay-in-the-tracks downhill.

I didn’t stay in the tracks while descending the fastest parts of the big hill at the end. A bit too wavy for my liking. When climbing a hill, the waves aren’t noticeable, but rocketing down at speed, they are pronounced. 

I reset my GPS at the end of the trail and it registered exactly 14.4K for the return trip. The only time I got out of the tracks was to take a picture of the bison sign. You can read a recent article about the bison: Banff Bison Herd Feeling Right at Home.

One of the features of this trail is the little house on the banks of the Cascade River at 13.4K which I wrote about in a previous blog post… The little house in Cascade Valley.

Cascade Valley is not one I’d recommend for a beginner skier. The hill at the beginning is 1.7K with 110 metres of elevation. You might climb it okay, but it’s pretty adventuresome coming down. For beginners, stay on the paved Lake Minnewanka road and ski the easy Upper Bankhead trail which is trackset and has wonderful scenery. 


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  1. I was wondering if that was you, Bob. I just caught a glimpse of you as I was coming off the bridge. I was paying more attention to getting lined up for that tricky little hill that goes down into the campground. Just curious, what were you using for wax? With the varying temperatures along the trail, I found I had to re-wax a couple times and never really found the perfect combination.

    I applied two layers of VR45(-2/-8) and covered it with two layers of VR40(-4/-12). -Bob

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